Posts Tagged ‘strengthcoach’

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I was training with a buddy of mine from Saipan a few weeks ago, and as is the case with everybody I workout with I ask what their training is like. He goes on by saying that he has been dealing with some chronic low back pain.

No surprise there.

Almost everybody at some point is going to experience some type of LBP.

After delving into the situation a little bit more as we were midway through our workout,¬† I asked him if he sought out a professional to help alleviate his LBP. He went to several physical therapists, chiropractors, and a few personal trainers, and they all basically said the same thing, “Just stretch your hamstrings.”

You can imagine my disbelief when he said that.¬†That kind of information is about as useful as a used condom. Mind you, these so called “professionals” are supposed to be the real deal in their community. It’s one thing to be incompetent in what you do, but I find it utterly repulsive to be held in high regard and still be an incompetent douche bag (<—yeah, I said it).¬† It’s people like them that give fitness professionals a bad name.

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Look, there are multiple factors that can cause an individual to experience low back pain ‚ÄĒ hip deformity, poor mobility, spinal misalignment, tight hip flexors, weak glutes ‚ÄĒ but in most cases, stretching is almost never the answer.¬†In fact, stretching actually makes matters worse.

What You Should Do

 

Your body is smarter than you think. That tightness you’re experiencing… it’s your body holding on for dear life because it’s out of whack.¬† Certain muscle groups (in this case the hamstrings) create a “protective tension” to try and provide some level of stability that is lacking elsewhere. Stretching those “tight” muscles destabilizes them, which will further increase your chance of becoming injured. So uhh…you’re basically just screwing yourself going through the same mundane stretching routine day-in and day-out.

Something as simple as a side plank, can get you feeling brand new¬† ‚ÄĒ it works like magic (seriously, it does).

Pretty cool huh? Like I said, just like magic.

To put things into perspective, when the muscles surrounding your spine is lacking adequate stability, it’s going to look elsewhere to garner some tension. That is why it is imperative to know why your hamstrings and/or low back is tight in the first place. While there are some people who absolutely need to improve their range of motion through various mobility drills and foam rolling techniques, it’s ignorant to assume everybody needs to do them because they’re feeling tight.

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Become An Insider

My biggest pet peeve is somebody asking me for “fitness advice”, but ignoring it and then doing the complete opposite.¬†Seriously?!?!?!

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The most pertinent issue with regards to fat loss is adherence.¬†Adherence is the most difficult thing for most people ‚ÄĒincluding myself.¬†We all have different goals (get stronger, lose body fat, build muscle),¬†but no matter what your goal is, adherence is that X Factor.¬†It’s going to keep you afloat.

For simplicity’s sake, I’ll skip on the whole¬†what to do to maximize fat loss¬†because let’s be honest, majority of us already have a general knowledge of what to do and the foods we¬†should minimize, if not avoid. That’s not the problem. The problem is adherence coupled with a “I don’t give a F**K mentality.”

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When it comes to fat loss we’ve all made mistakes before¬†and evidently we still continue to make those same mistakes. I’d like to call these mistakes, the dark side. It’s like what Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Crash Dieting

As the saying goes, the best diet is the one you can stick to. ¬†In hindsight, I should have ditched the whole notion of¬†“strict dieting” because it’s not sustainable. ¬†I’ve tried it and I felt miserable. I made my clients try it and they felt miserable. ¬†Sure, there are outliers who can stick to intense diets, but improving your quality of life is suppose to be enjoyable.

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Research has shown¬†‚ÄĒ and I’ve seen this myself¬†‚ÄĒ¬†that the vast majority of people who lose weight, almost inevitably gain it¬†back and more. This is typically a result of strict dieting or as I’d like to put it, the all-or-nothing approach. ¬†Unfortunately, this is the way most people diet ‚ÄĒ¬†they go on a low calorie, carb restricted diet, coupled with exercise. Consistency is key and with extreme methods, they never pan out in the long run. Moreover, it will wreak havoc on your metabolism making it more difficult for you to lose fat.

We’re all in this for the long run, so adding in a little more flexibility as opposed to strict (crash) dieting, goes a long way. ¬†The quality of the food you eat should never be overlooked, but they pale in comparison to being consistent with a diet. ¬†Put it this way, if you do not see yourself maintaining¬†your current diet, then it won’t work for you. ¬†Sustainability is the key for long-term success.

Neglecting Your Health

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At the end of the day, we’re only human, and what I mean by that is that we all want results…FAST! Our natural inclination is to want everything right this minute. Well let me tell you, nothing deteriorates your health quicker¬†than training¬†to lose fat in a short amount of time. ¬†It doesn’t matter how slow your progress will be, just as long you keep going. Consistency is key.¬†Keep this in mind:¬†the faster the fruit ripens, the quicker it rots.

Remember the story about the tortoise and the hare? Slowly does it every time.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if your health is out of whack then the last thing your body wants to do is lose fat. While it is necessary to set a deadline to create urgency, ¬†it is also a detriment to your health to rush through it. Losing weight or dropping body fat isn’t the problem ‚ÄĒ it’s keeping it off. Looking at the hierarchy of importance, your health is at the top of the list, so don’t be in such a rush to lose X amount of weight or X amount of body fat because through my experience of training different people, the slower you lose it, the more likely you’re going to keep it off.

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May the force be with you.

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‚ÄĒperforming 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.

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Try this:

I think I speak for every qualified trainer and coach out there‚ÄĒthe¬†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‚ÄĒlimiting factor for the goblet squat‚ÄĒbecause 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‚ÄĒsimply 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‚ÄĒthere is no validity. The only thing it does is make the exercise (unnecessarily) harder‚ÄĒit does not translate to improved proficiency in a¬†prescribed¬†movement.

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Photo Credit: tnation.com

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