Posts Tagged ‘Workout’

assessment

A few months back I hit the three year mark as a trainer. This was a big milestone for me considering I’m in an industry where the vast majority burn out within 1-2 years (sometimes even less). Although I’ve only been in the game for three years, I’ve learned quite a ton and gained a unique perspective.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned:

1. There’s a lot of hard work involved

 

This should come as no surprise. It’s really silly to think you can skip steps and avoid the process — like there’s some magic formula. Quite frankly, that type of thinking is repulsive. Pay your dues. Everyday. The vast majority that don’t “make it” fail to understand the simple concept of hard work.

To go against this grain just spells entitled douche bag.

2. Professionalism goes a long way

 

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As a kid, the one virtue that was drilled into my head over and over again was humility (thanks Ma). You’re not superior to your craft and others. That’s why I continually stress the importance of never looking down and thinking you’re above everything or anyone.

Let me tell you, when it’s time to shut my mouth and learn, I take my trainer hat off. I can make a legitimate argument that that’s what paid dividends to my success early on.

If you want to standout, conduct yourself like a professional — serve as an example and an inspiration.

3. You can’t help everyone

 

I can’t stress this enough. When I first started out, I wanted to help everyone. The reality that quickly took place, however, was the complete opposite — I learned the hard way that you can’t help someone who doesn’t genuinely want help.

There is a fine distinction between someone who says they need help, and someone who actually wants help. With that in mind, it’s virtually impossible to help everyone that crosses your path. This was such a tough pill for me to swallow considering my optimistic nature.

So… in the grand scheme of things, actively seek out people who actually want help.

4. Have positive interactions

 

This, in many ways, ties into the second lesson mentioned above. Being good at what you do is a given — no way around that.  It’s essential that you do your work and get really, really, REALLY good at it. However, further down the road, having positive interactions and building relationships makes a bigger impact.

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As a frame of reference, my former employer back when I used to teach P.E. was such a huge influence in my life he and I became good friends. In fact, he was the one that made the intro to the owner of the gym I currently run my business in. Some would label that situation as luck (which is sort of true), but this is a perfect example of where preparation meets opportunity.

5. Be clear and concise

 

Understand that people are inherently skeptical, and trying to impress them doesn’t do any good. On many occasions, I’ve had my clients nod their head whenever I tried to articulate the reasoning behind a certain drill and/or exercise — it’s safe to say they didn’t know what the hell I was saying. With that said, you have to understand that everybody caters to simplicity. In the realm of strength and conditioning, minimizing trainer jargon and becoming proficient in your communication skills is paramount.

The best trainers and coaches in the world are the ones who are able to convey their message as if they’re the client.

Think and act like a trainer, but speak like a client.

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Become An Insider

While I’ve always had an open mind, there were instances in the past where I just wanted to bang my head into the wall over the the antics I see in commercial gyms and on social media. Nowadays, I try to understand the reasoning behind their approach, albeit a challenging task.

How you train or what you advocate is your move. Every exercise has its place due to the concept of specificity.

That being said, if we’re talking about exercises that are the most bang for your buck, it’s no question that you’ve got to hammer down movements that are going to make you strong — and exercises that exhibit high levels of muscular recruitment are going to be your best bet.

Here are four exercises to rule them all.

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1. Prowler/Sled Push

 

What can I say? They’re the best way to lean out without losing strength and muscle (provided your nutrition is on point).

From a conditioning standpoint, these babies rule — which is why they should be in your training program. If the zombie apocalypse does happen, at least you’ll know that you’re in excellent condition to be a survivor.

2. Loaded Carries

 

I always get asked, “What does this exercise work?” Instead, they should be asking what doesn’t this exercise work. I’m convinced that nothing packs on more muscle than loaded carries. In addition to improved hip stability, walking with a heavy load forces you to engage your core, your upper back, and arms. It’s also worth mentioning that it does a heck of job in improving shoulder function.

3. Deadlift

 

It’s no secret that the Deadlift is highly regarded as the king of all exercises. You’re essentially working everything from your head to your toes. With that in mind, there are many schools of thought on how should you pull. Powerlifters will argue that the Trap Bar Deadlift are for sissies, and others will say Sumo is cheating.

Here’s what I have to say about all of that:

Squidward

What we need to start taking more into consideration is our unique individual anatomy. People vary dramatically in structure. Some might not be able to pull a conventional deadlift.  Similarly, there are others who might be more well-equipped to pull from a sumo stance.

I believe the deadlift is a big movement that should stay in your training program year round, however, you have to choose which variation is suited best for you.

Conventional Deadlift

Sumo Deadlift

Trap Bar Deadlift

Landmine Deadlift

4. Bulgarian Split Squats

 

I know what you’re thinking, and yes — I would’ve said the same thing in the past, but hear me out.  I have such an immense adoration for this exercise simply because they rarely cause me or my clients any problem.  In fact, I’ve found them to almost have a universal application.

I love back squats, but due to structural limitations, a lot of people are pretty much in quick sand whenever they try to get under the bar and squat — they’re not going anywhere. This is why I’m convinced that the Bulgarian Split Squat is a far better option than conventional squatting. Even with proper form in a back squat, you’re bound to run into some problems whether it’d be hip, lower back, or knee issues. Moreover, you can virtually load as much weight as you can, but with less loading on the spine.

If not these, front squats are my second option.

Honorable Mentions: Pull-Ups, Weighted Push-Ups, Kettlebell Turkish Get Ups

I’m aware that this is a very short list.  But make no mistake that proper execution of these movements will yield big time results.  Vary the intensity and stay consistent.

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Become An Insider

I never realized how tiring traveling can be. I think the one thing I dislike most about traveling is that my routine gets messed up. I’m a routine kind of guy, so when that gets out of place, I don’t feel as productive. Keeping up with my training becomes a bit more challenging and staying on point with my nutrition just goes down the drain.

With that being said, it’s good to be back!

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If you were to tell me seven years ago that in seven years I’d be running my own fitness business and networking with some of the top minds of the fitness industry, I’d be lost for words. I was in Anaheim this past weekend and I had the opportunity to meet a lot of great trainers and coaches. Best part was that I was able to catch up with my buddy Josh Landis, and I got to meet up with Dean Somerset and Tony Gentilcore again for their awesome workshop.

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So…today’s post is all about exercises that really suck.

With regards to exercise selection, there’s obviously nothing wrong with varying your workouts or trying to isolate specific muscle groups.  For instance, I love to lift heavy ass weights just as much as the next person, but if it means wrecking myself in the process — it’s not worth it.  The same rule applies to exercise selection. If the movement you’re doing hurts, then don’t do it. You have to avoid what hurts.

What kind of a training effect would I get if I was doing high volume sit ups everyday or overhead pressing a barbell twice a week?  I don’t know about you, but my lower back and shoulders would be giving me the finger.

At the end of the day, the goal for every training session should be to maximize muscle fiber recruitment with minimal risk.  In other words, the rewards should far outweigh the risk for injury.

With that in mind, here are four exercises that really suck.

1. Sit Ups

We all know that having a strong core is important for developing overall strength, but that doesn’t mean doing a thousand sit ups like Rocky. Sit ups will wreak havoc on your discs. Imagine taking a wire coat hanger and bending it back and forth over and over.  Eventually the metal will break.   The same thing happens to your spine.  Dr. Stuart McGill notes that traditional sit-ups imposes huge loads of compressive forces on the spine, so repeatedly bending your spine will result in disc bulges.  You might get a nice 6-pack, but you’ll probably have some lower back pain to go along with that.

Do this instead: Stir the Pot

This has to be my favorite core exercise. Brace your core and squeeze your glutes to remain stable through the hips and lower back.

2. Upright Rows

I remember the first time I started performing this exercise.  I felt like a boss!  I mean come on, everybody else does it.  Arnold did it in the 70’s, and athletes all over the world do it as well.  Well let me tell you, nothing screams at your shoulders more than this exercise. I can tell you that most people will experience some type of shoulder discomfort if they were to implement this exercise in their program.

From a structural standpoint,  not all bodies are created equal.  Individuals with a type I acromion are the lucky ones who can pretty much upright row for days because they have a lot of space to work with.  Those with a type II and III acromion have a high impingement rate due to minimal space, so to put this simply — for most people performing the upright row is the equivalent of repeatedly banging your head against the wall.

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Photo Credit: tnation.com

Do this instead: Banded Face Pulls

In addition to working the shoulders, you work on building the entire musculature of the upper back with banded face pulls. Keep the shoulders low and chest high.

3. Barbell Overhead Press

If you can’t get your arms up overhead without dropping your head forward and excessively arching your lower back, then there is no reason for you to be adding load.  Loading a dysfunction creates more dysfunction, which will eventually lead to pain. So if your trainer or coach has you overhead pressing a barbell on day one without a proper assessment, here’s a tip: RUN!

From my own experience and training people from all walks of life, the overhead press doesn’t bode well for most people. For most general population folks, this movement might never be an option simply because the cost of doing business is too high — the risks far outweigh the benefits.

Don’t get me wrong, the overhead press is a fantastic exercise, but you have to earn the right to do it.

Do this instead: Landmine Press

I’ve grown quite fond of this variation because it’s a user-friendly exercise that can work the overhead pressing motion without compromising shoulder health and integrity.

4. Forward Lunges

Forward lunges are one of the most common exercises you will see almost everybody doing in the gym or outdoors.  It’s an exercise that I use to do a lot in the past, but I’ve found that all it really does is create a lot of anterior knee pain.

As Dr. John Rusin stated, “The forward lunge focuses on a hard eccentric quad contraction on the step leg to stabilize the foot and ankle, while still staying upright at the hip and trunk.” This is where most of the shear forces in the knee occur.

Do this instead: Reverse Lunges

From a coaching standpoint, I’ve found that reverse lunges are much easier to teach and are far more effective in terms of working the quads and glutes without the shear forces that it’s counterpart induces.

To put everything into perspective, your training should stimulate your body, not annihilate it.  You have to accommodate the activity to the structure. Peace!

Oh and one more thing… DON’T EVER DO THIS!