Motivation Monday

Last Monday of October.  Did you reach any of the goals you set from the beginning of the month?
I know I did.  I wanted to stay more on top of writing and I think i accomplished that throughout this month.  It may not be the best writing in the world, but I think the more I put it out there, the better it will get.

Here is your quote to get you started this week:

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Albert Einstein

For example, endlessly pedaling away on a bike or walking on a treadmill day in, day out, not getting any results but still convincing yourself that “cardio” is the key to losing weight.  Try changing up your routine.  Add something new.

Are you taking care of your body part 2

Ok so in my last post I covered what you should do before your workout and hopefully you’ve come away with some new found knowledge that you need to take care of your body. Now remember gains or losses made in the gym come with recovery, not with how much you abuse your body. With that said a great way to recover after an intense workout is foam rolling, trigger point therapy, or self myofascial release. These are pretty much all the same thing.  Foam rolling is more generalized to major muscle groups, while trigger point therapy is more localized.  There are many types of rollers and massage balls.  For a good resource, check out this site for trigger point therapy.  There is a lot of great info as well as lots of great products, especially The Grid. 

Anyway back to what the TP therapy is all about.  This therapy will ensure that you’re ready for your next workout. Maybe you’ve heard about this in a magazine or someone talking about it around your gym. Odds are, if you ask a trainer about it, they’ll know all about it.  Or hopefully they’ll know about it.   
Here are some basics about foam rolling or trigger point therapy:
A foam roller is basically a long tube of high density foam that you lay a major muscle group on. These major muscle groups basically consist of the back, glutes, quads, and hamstrings. As for the massage balls, they can hit smaller muscles, and more local areas of tightness.  Think, pec minor, rotator cuff muscles, hip rotators like piriformis. 

Now all you have to do is roll around until you find a place where there’s pain or discomfort. Now here’s the worst part; I want you to stay there.
Confused? Yea I thought so. Usually we want to shy away from pain. This is different. Think of it as a deep tissue massage. I want you to press the foam roll right into the spot that hurts. After about 45 seconds to 2 minutes of what may be one of the most uncomfortable things you’ll ever experience in a health club, the pain will dull down from something unbearable to a subdued barely noticeable discomfort, perhaps even go away entirely.  
What you’ve just successfully done is break up knotted muscle tissue, restoring proper function to the region. Feel free to continue this process on all of the major muscles, and you’ll find when you get up you feel like you just had the best massage of your life. I will warn you, some areas, specifically the IT band (side of your thigh) are more painful than others. 
So lets review what’s been covered over the last 2 posts:

Start every workout with a dynamic warm-up by following the SEMI guidelines; perform your routine for the day knowing you properly warmed up, and then at the end, treat your muscles to some foam rolling and I promise you, your body will thank you in the end.

Are you taking care of your body?

I would say 75% of people that just walk into the gym do not even bother going through a proper warm-up before they workout, and I would say almost 100% of those people end up with some sort of injury over the course of a given year. 

A proper DYNAMIC warm-up is essential to getting the body in a ready state to perform the task at hand, your workout.  That workout could be anything, ranging from intervals on the bike or treadmill, squatting in the power rack, or picking up dumbbells and strength training.   Now in my experience in the gym, 4 scenarios play out.

Scenario 1:  You jump right onto the hamster wheel (aka the treadmill) and start moving along until your “prescribed” 30 minutes are up.

Scenario 2: You walk over to the dumbbell rack and start throwing weights around, paying no mind to damage you’re doing to your body. 

Scenario 3: You do a few stretches, chest, hamstrings, quads, and off you go to your workout.

Scenario 4: You do a dynamic warm-up, one that almost feels like a workout, and prime your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints for the workout ahead.

Answer this question: Which one describes you?

If you answered Scenario 4, congratulations, you know what you’re doing.  Keep up the good work.  There’s a great chance you won’t injure yourself during your workout.  On top of that, you probably have a great deal of flexibility, mobility, and stability. 

As for the rest of you, you have some learning to do.

A warm-up is more that doing a little jogging or biking.  It is even more than stretching a couple of muscles.  It’s all about getting the blood flowing, the heart pumping, and the joints moving.

A dynamic warm-up is exactly what it sounds like.  You are actively moving around and heating up muscles and joints of the body to prepare them for your strength training routine.  Remember those dorky exercises that you used to do in high school gym class?  The arm circles and jumping jacks?  Yea, those are a small part of a dynamic warm-up.  There are a lot of ways to ensure your body gets properly warmed up and ready for exercise.  Without these, it would be like trying to start up an old car and pushing the engine to the max.  Sooner or later, it’s going to fail and breakdown. 

Here are few guidelines for a great dynamic warm-up: Remember S-E-M-I

Specific: warm-up the muscles and joints your using for the day. 

Easy to accomplish: the warm-up is only a warm up, have fun with it!  Don’t over think it and    make it complicated.

Movement based: focus on mimicking the movements in that days routine. 

Increases blood flow: any good dynamic warm-up should get your heart pumping.

So let’s break that down a little bit. 

If your workout has a ton of explosive movements in it(Olympic lifts, plyometrics), then some good warm-up ideas could include jumping rope, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, burpees/squat thrusts, and maybe a few low box drills. This keeps it relevant to the workout ahead, and relatively simple thus preventing a waste of energy that would be needed in the warm-up, while still get the much needed muscle prepared for what’s to come.

Let’s say your routine contains mostly controlled speed strength moves. Whether it be an upper body/lower body split, full body workout (which are better for you) or a body building routine, you would want to warm-up the muscles and joints specific to that day’s workout.  If you were doing a leg routine, you’d want to go with some full range body weight squats, hip mobility drills like spider man climbs, hip presses, or kettlebell swings with a warm-up appropriate weight (find a qualified KB instructor before trying).   As for an upper body routine, something as simple as pushups and a few bodyweight rows with a TRX are a great idea to get the shoulder moving(ps shoulder mobility is super important  Better range of motion = less chance for injury).  Adding in mobility exercises like stick-ups or snow angels can also help. 

Notice how we change the warm-up to be relevant for what we’re doing in the workout. This is definitely not a case of “one size fits all.”

Try this warm-up
-Overhead squats (with or without a broomstick of some sort) x
-Walking or stationary lunges (add elbow to opposite knee for more advanced exercise)
-Caterpillar/Inchworm (with or without pushup)
-Spiderman Climb
-Thoracic Mobility (from hands and knees)
-Leg Swings (on back with arms out to side, swing one leg side to side w/o shoulders leaving ground)
-Scorpion Stretches
-Finally some animal based movements for total body warm-up and conditioning.  For example, Apes, Dog, Bear, Crab, Tiger/Cougar

Guarantee you’ll be ready to rock.

Regardless of what’s in your routine, make sure to pay attention to mimicking the range of motion you will be using, and feeling the increase in blood flow to the intended areas.  This will decrease your risk for injury.  Less chance for injury means more chances to work out and less use of pain killers. 

Look for part 2 when I talk about foam rolling.

Motivation Monday

You live longer once you realize that any time spent being unhappy is wasted. -Ruth E. Renkl

Positivity and optimism leads to positive results. Why spend your time being unhappy and negative? Act positive and good things will come.

Wow, I actually did that?

So its a Friday night, and my son is sleeping already(early night for him) and I decided to clean up my documents folder, or at the very least organize it a lot more, being that I have lots of workout programs for my clients, for myself, or just some just for fun that haven’t really been used. 
Anyway, looking over where I was 3 or 4 years ago in my workout designs, I would have smacked myself in the face.  “Really, that’s what you’re gonna do?”
I guess my inexperience played a factor in the kinds of workouts i was churning out, but still…WOW!!

My workouts now are a lot better now.  At least I think so, you may have to talk to some of my clients to really find out.  My organization is better, the goal of the session is more pronounced, and just the overall vibe from the program is better.  I guess that’s also experience, but Ive also committed to learning a lot more about many different things.  Since I’ve started my career, I’ve stayed not only on top of research through NSCA articles, but also new trends in fitness, like TRX, ViPR, kettlebells, and group training.  I think that non-stop drive to learn and be taught has helped me grow as a trainer. 

How have you changed over the past 3 or 4 years?  Different habits? Different opinions?  Different lifestyle?
Maybe you’ve tried to lead a more healthy lifestyle? 

Let me know