What to expect when you first get (re)started at the gym…part 2

I hope everyone is still going strong with their New Year’s resolutions.

If you have fallen off, it’s not too late and I want to let you know that the party is far from over.  This is not a one and done type of thing.   So don’t sit there and think that you have to wait a entire year to get back on that horse and get going again.  You can restart any time you feel ready.

For those of you still on track, congrats!!!!! Keep up the great work.

At this point you should have made it through the first couple weeks.  This means you have survived the worse of the soreness and tightness that comes with getting started (read more about that in part 1).

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Now that you have gone through your exercises a few times, these movements should start to seem a little more familiar and easier to do.   This is great and exciting sign.  It tells you that your body is becoming stronger and learning how to move efficiently with your exercises.  In the industry we like to call these GAINS!!!!

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Gains come easily in the beginning because exercising and living a fit lifestyle is a shock to our body.  We see usually see gains quickly when it comes to our strength and when we start noticing new muscles in the mirror.  But these beginner gains don’t last forever.

Over time our body gets used to the stress of exercise the gains are harder to come by.  This is when we start to dial up the difficulty of our routine.  Maybe we add in another workout day if we feel that we are starting to recover faster (less sore/tired) from our last session.  As for the exercises them self we can make those harder by adding more reps, resistance (weight), or in difficulty (such as going from a 2 legged squat to a 1 legged split squat).

I don’t mean to discourage you from training.  But this is why people love exercising in the beginning (after the soreness of course).  It is because everything works!

It is when we hit that speed bump, and the results come slower that we start to believe that what we are doing isn’t working anymore.  This can cause us to either give up, or start looking for the next thing that offers quick results.

We need to keep in mind that a fit and healthy life is a marathon and not a sprint.  Stick to your plan.  It is normal to have peaks and valleys and even plateaus (especially after the beginner gains) but in the end it is all about long term and sustainable results.

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Quitting or changing your training plan completely is an over reaction that will actually set you further back from achieving your goals.  Often times all that is needed is a small tweak to your program to get your gains train back on track.

 

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Low calorie vs. Calorie Quality, which is the diet answer?

I hope everyone is still going strong and doing well with their New Year’s resolutions.

If you are trying to lose weight this new year than you MUST have a nutrition component as part of your plan.  There is no way you can simply out work a bad diet (trust me I have tried).  In fact a proper diet accounts for 80% of what is needed for you to reach your weight loss goal.

When you go about selecting your nutrition plan you will see that there are two schools of thought out there, and it is like the Hatfield and McCoys between them and their advocates.

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On one side we have the low calorie crowd, and on the other the calorie quality crowd.

Today we will explore what the two camps are all about, and decide which is the best route for weight loss.

Low Calorie Diets

Low calorie diets operate with a simple equation of calories in/calories out.

When calories consumed are greater than calories burned you get weight gain.

When calories consumed are less than calories burned you get weight loss.

And when calories consumed equals the amount of calories burned then we maintain weight.

On paper this looks simple and that is why many people love this philosophy, because it is easy to understand.

With that being said there are some good things and some things I agree.

I totally agree with the fact that if you eat more calories than you burn you will put on weight.

But when it comes to weight loss it is a little more complicated than simply counting calories in vs. calories out.  The reason for that is we need to consider our metabolic rate.

Your metabolic rate is the speed that our body breaks down nutrients (food) to be used for chemical reactions in the body.  (We will get more into this when we talk about calorie quality).

The thing about the weight loss equation is that your body’s metabolic rate moves based on your caloric output.  This is why people see weight loss initially on a low cal diet, that is until their metabolism catches up to even out the deficit.

I know what you are saying “well when my metabolism catches up why don’t I just lower my calorie and increase my caloric output to create a bigger deficit?”

The reason that will only work for a little while, and can also become dangerous.

What happens is you end up creating such a huge deficit gap (eating less, working out more) that your body will go into starvation mode and actually hold on to every calorie you consume so you can survive.

Our brain tends to be a selfish organ (it thinks it’s important because it runs the show), and if necessary will divert calories from everywhere else in the body to survive.

Calorie Quality

Now let’s look at the other side of this feud…. calorie quality.

This approach takes a little more knowledge about calorie types and their effect on the body.

When choosing calorie quality there are two things we want to avoid

  1. Fried foods (Trans fats)
  2. Foods high in processed sugars

Up above I mentioned that we would get back to chemical reactions in the body.  Well I am a man of my word.

There are three macro nutrient types that we need to know. Protein, Fat and carbohydrates.

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If we look at all three carbohydrates and fats work as fuel sources for the body, while protein helps us build tissues (such as muscle) and is the building blocks for a lot of other structures within our body.

Protein rich foods don’t offer us a ton of energy which makes them great for anyone trying to lose weight.

What we really need to pay attention to here are how carbohydrates and fats work in the body.
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Carbohydrates are our main source of energy.  Carbohydrates are quickly broken down to sugars which act as an immediate source of energy.  An excess amount of sugar levels can lead to sugar being stored as fat in the body to be used as energy at a later date.

When selecting carbohydrates we want to find carbohydrates that have very little processed sugar, and are high in fiber.  Fiber tends to help balance out the effect of sugar in the body.  Because fruits tend to have high levels of fiber, it balances out the natural sugars found in them making them a healthy carbohydrate.

Unlike carbohydrates, fats (lipids) take a long time to be broken down in the body.  When they are broken down though the offer a bigger abundance of more clean burning energy. (Here is a great link to help explain the difference between carbs and fat a little bit more)

Now people who believe in calorie quality believe you can eat as much as you want, as long as it is good quality foods.  And this is where the feud lies with the low calorie people.

Verdict

Some may see this as the cheap way out but it’s a draw.  Both sides make good points that need to be considered.

I am all about the quality of nutrients you eat.  I find when I focus on nutrient quality rather than nutrient quantity that my caloric intake does in fact go down due to the better food choices.

On the other hand though, If I eat consume more calories than I burn (whether they are healthy calories or not) then I most definitely gain weight.

I believe the answer is that there has to be a balance.  While you have to make sure your calories are coming from good sources, you also need to make sure you are not having too much of a good thing.

If you consider those two principles you can get out from the middle of this endless feud and be on your way to making progress.house sale.jpg

Have any tips, questions, reaction to what was said?  I would love to hear about it in the comments section below.

 

What to expect when you first get (re)started at the gym….. part 1

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had a great start to theirs so far.

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I hope many of us have hit the ground running in an attempt to make good on our resolutions.

For some of us that might mean starting (or restarting) a workout regimen to lose those couple of extra pounds, or just to live a healthier lifestyle.

If joining a gym or starting a workout regimen is something new to you it can be scary not knowing what to expect.

I am here today to help give you some guidance to let you know what to expect as you work to make your resolution a reality.

Before Day 1: You set your goal.  Make it as specific and meaningful as possible.  The more emotional meaning you attach to your goal the more motivation it will provide.  A great example would be

“I want to lose 20lbs so I am healthier and can play with my kids.”

This kind of goal will be your road map and your motivation to stay on track and be successful.

Day 1:  You are excited, yet nervous to get started.  You might be afraid that:

  1. People will judge you
  2. You don’t know what you are doing

All of these things are your head and are resistance to the change you want to make.

No one will be judging you based on how you look, or the fact that you are a beginner.  Everyone is focused on their own goal that they don’t have time to judge.  Plus they can also relate to their first day in the gym.  If anything they are empathetic and are more likely to help steer you in the right direction.

For the second excuse I suggest hiring a qualified fitness professional.  They have the knowledge and experience to design the right program to meet your goals.

If you choose not to hire a professional make sure you go to the gym with a plan.  This will help you to not waste time as you know what to and where to go.  This will help you feel confident at the gym, and make you look like what you are doing.

I suggest starting with simple exercises before moving to more advanced ones.  Body weight movements such as squats, push ups, pull ups, crawls, ring rows, and planks are great exercises to start with.

Day 2: The soreness is real!!!!!!  No you are not hurt, your body is simply reacting to the new stress you placed on it.  Even the most simplest things like walking, going up and down stairs, and sitting down feel difficult.  I remember feeling that if I were to drop my wallet that I would just consider it gone forever, no matter how much money was in there.

I know that you will feel like you don’t want to move, but moving and drinking water are actually the two best things you can do alleviate soreness.

I suggest stretching and going for a 20 minute brisk walk, or a light jog.  This is a great way to actively rest and get the blood pumping through the body.  Trust me you will feel better.

Day 3:  Yes I know the soreness is worse!!!!  Do the same thing as Day 2.  Move and stretch.  You might also feel an increase in hunger.  This is good.  It is your body requiring more energy for exercise.

Day 4:  The soreness should start to subside enough to train.  Just note that this will be like Day  1 and start the cycle of soreness again.

This cycle of soreness will continue after each workout for about 2 weeks.  This is due to the fact that exercise is still new to us.  If you are dieting on top of training (which you should do) you will also find your self to be grouchy as your body will be going through withdrawal from all the bad stuff we used to eat.  Sounds like a fun combination right being grouchy and sore.

You will see as you continue to go through your routine that your soreness will become less, and that you will be able to train more often.  This is due to your body getting stronger and used to the exercises as well as us getting mentally tougher to deal with the soreness.

If you are able to weather the storm in the beginning you will see that the exercises become easier and you slowly see the results you desire.  Getting started is about conditioning the mind just as well as it is about conditioning the body.  But if we set great goals and attached meaning to them I am confident that you will make it to the other side of the storm.

Stay tuned for part two where we will discuss what to expect after the first week or two of training.

Just getting started and have questions about what to expect, or your training program?  I am more than happy to help.  Leave your questions in the comments below and I will answer them.

 

Why you need a fitness coach this new year

Christmas is over.    The Christmas tunes are off and I officially have the Jimmy Buffet music on full blast to keep me thinking warm thoughts in this 20 degree weather.

With the end of Christmas we set our sights on the new year.  

Many of us will be making resolutions to get our year started off on the right foot.  Typically many resolutions are health based and usually sound something like:

“I want to lose x lbs”

“I want to start working out x times a week”

“I want to eat better”

Many people will set out to accomplish these resolutions on their own.  But this often is a recipe for disaster and leads us to give up just after a couple of weeks.

We start coming up with excuses that we don’t have time, it’s too boring, I’m not seeing results, I’m too sore, I think I’m hurt, I don’t know what I’m doing, etc. 

Enter the fitness coach.

Hiring a fitness coach can help you solve all these problems.  Here is what a good coach should provide:

  1. Help you set strong goals and tie an emotional meaning to them
  2. Make workouts entertaining
  3. Be tough, but encouraging
  4. Make sure your program are safe and effective for you
  5. Ensure you are performing exercises properly and safely
  6. Make sure your nutrition is dialed in
  7. Hold you accountable
  8. Cut through the fitness clutter out there
  9. Be able to apnswer questions
  10. Keep you focused on your goal, despite distractions
  11. But ultimately be a partner with you on your journey.

A good coach is an investment.  But  is an investment that will return dividends not only when it comes to your health, but will positively effect your happiness and self-esteem from the progress you will see along with the sense of accomplishment of sucking with something that is tough.

You finally can have that happy and healthy New year you talk about every year.  That is why this year instead of going it alone you should hire a fitness coach.

2017 Christmas list

Happy holidays everyone!

Christmas is almost here.

I love Christmas at my families.  It’s a fun laid back day full of presents and family bonding over video and board games.

It’s a Festivus miracle to actually get my dad to sit down and play video games.  He is very old school and the outdoors type, making it very entertaining trying to watch him play.

Speaking of presents I thought I would share my Christmas list with you…. Because we all know that I have been extra extra good this year, and I know Santa definitely reads this blog.

  1. Super Nintendo mini- you’re off the hook on this one Santa. Girlfriend covered this one already 😀
  2. French press- had it for the first time last year.  Probably best cup of coffee I ever had…so yea
  3. Espresso machine- upping the caffeine game to a whole new level
  4. 45lbs weight plates- I must lift heavy things at home
  5. AB wheel- because Abz!!!!!!!
  6. 62lbs kettlebell- my clients got too strong this year
  7. Bit coin-$$$$$$
  8. World peace- I think this one is mandatory on every list
  9. Gains- feed me more

Last but not least…..

Health and happiness to all of you

Happy holidays everyone.

Leave your Christmas list in the comments below.  You never know who may be reading 😜

8 reasons why you shouldn’t skip your workout during the holidays

Thanksgiving is over and Rudolph has been on TV.  That means one thing.

It’s officially the holiday season.

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The holiday season is a busy time of year.  On top of work/school whatever little free time we already had is now spent with family, wrapping presents, holiday parties, travelling, and everyone’s favorite…..shopping for presents.

With all these things going on it is very easy to skip your workout.  Well today I am here to tell you why that is a bad idea.

  1. Your health doesn’t take a break over the holidays.
  2. Survive your holiday party.  If you are looking to lose weight, training the day of and after your holiday party is a great way burn and use the extra calories we consumed.
  3. Don’t break you rhythm.  Once we broken it is hard to get going again.
  4. Don’t waste all the hard work you put in all year.  Just taking off a few weeks can set you back in trying to accomplish your goals.
  5. Get a head start on your New Year’s Resolution.  It may seem like cheating but I checked the rules it’s totally legal 😉
  6. Eliminates stress.  There is good stress and bad stress.  Bad stress can cause the body to gain weight.  Exercise is a great way to eliminate bad stress, something there is no shortage of during the holidays.  This makes exercise even more  vital so we don’t gain weight, and also don’t go postal.
  7. It’s a great distraction.  Have family around you can’t stand?  End of the year work piling up?  Whatever the problem is when we exercise we forget about all that.  Instead if we are working out hard enough we are focusing on moving properly, and just trying to survive “the suck” that we forget everything else for an hour.
  8. Give yourself a gift.  Haven’t you been good this year?  We give everyone else a gift why not give one to ourselves.  This one you don’t even have to wrap.  All you need to do is block out an hour a day to take care of yourself.  You deserve it

Have another reason we didn’t list?  We would love to hear it.  Let us know in the comments below.

Where do we draw the line when it comes to functional fitness?

Functional fitness has become an exercise phenomenon, but has it become a bastardized term?

Over the past month I have started going to the local globo gym twice a week to get my heavy lifts in.

Over my first month I have seen some pretty interesting exercises taking place.

Just today I saw a person doing jumping rotational lunges with a row, sit up hold bench press, ridiculous BOSU ball exercises, jumping jack presses, and shoulder raise to press variations.

On one hand I am happy to see people getting off the machines and moving their bodies in different ways.

On the other hand it is alarming to see some of the things people are doing in the gym in the name of functional fitness.

Functional fitness has become an industry buzz words that makes training sound really cool and gives an excuse to include an exercise in workout, or dare I say program.

The appeal of functional movements is the fact that because you are moving more joints and involving more muscles you are burning more calories, building strength all through out the body in short time efficient workout.

Sounds great right?

Problem is there is no consensus on a true definition, allowing for everything and anything to be considered “functional”.

Some would argue that a functional movement is anything that mimics things that you face in your everyday life.

Others define functional movements as multi plane, multi joint movements.

I don’t disagree with any of these definitions, the problem is where do we draw the line in order to say that this constitutes as functional training and what doesn’t?

I mean does something like this constitute as functional?

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It most certainly is an impressive feat of balance, coordination and strength.  But when would you see this in real life?

I mean if I rubbed my belly and patted my head would that be a functional exercise? It uses multiple joints and I am moving in two different planes of motion.

At some point the ridiculousness has to stop, and exercises have to go back to having a purpose in your program.  Not just be in your training because it is “functional.”

We also need to think about keeping people safe.

I know people want want to perform the “cool” movements that provide fast results and leave them feeling “worked out,”  But what happens is that the movements get bastardized because their is so much going on in some exercises and people don’t know basic movement.

You have to earn the right to start doing “functional movements” by first mastering the basics.

Squats, push ups, trx rows, dead lifts, and carries are all basic movements, which are highly effective and also happen to be functional (by anyone’s definition).  Problem is they just aren’t all that sexy.

The reality is the unsexy stuff is the most effective to building strength, losing weight and helping you move and feel better.

As you get better that is when you have earned the right to progress and go onto harder movements that align with reaching your goals and will also keep you safe.

If you are able to accomplish that you will be able to draw your own line when it comes to functional fitness and decide what is worthwhile and what is just bull.

Be part of the conversation.  Weigh in and leave a comment. We would love to hear your thoughts on functional training.

Machines vs. Free weights

When it comes to building strength one of the most common questions people ask me if it is good to do machines, and if so which ones?

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“Come with me if you want to live”

This question always makes me laugh because it sounds like something out of the Terminator.

The bottom line is if you are looking to lose weight and build strength free weights such as dumb bells, kettle bells, barbells and even our own body weight are better options over machines.

Lifting free weights require us force us to use more muscle groups than just the ones performing the movement in order keep our core and other joints stable.

Unlike machines which have us move on fixed planes and often times isolate a certain muscle group, Free allow us to move freely and train muscle groups and chains of muscle groups that allow us to mimic real life movements.

The thing is it can take a while to get proficient at free weight movements, and one wrong movement can lead to an injury.

This is where machines have the upper hand.

I believe machines are great for people just starting out and need to build strength.

Free weights have the ability to move all over the place if you lack proper form or joint stability.  One bad rep where the weight is not controlled can lead to muscle tweaks and tears.

Machines operate on fixed patterns which work to stabilize the weight for you, keeping you safer.

The fixed pattern offers a low learning curve to strength building as well.  Most machines are very easy to hop on and start going to work on with very little coaching required.

Everyone’s goal should be to work up to performing exercises with free weight.  The problem is because machines are easier people stick with them and perform the same movements and never progress.

The lack of progression will cause you to plateau regardless if you are looking to lose weight or build strength.

If you are just starting out with strength training I suggest you start with a combination of machine exercises and body weight stability exercises.  This will help to build strength while building core and joint stability for free weights.

Here is a sample beginner full body machine workout can follow to work their way up to free weights.

A1)3×10 Leg press

A2) :30 plank hold

(super set these two movements)

B1) 3×10 Chest press

B2) :30 wall sit

(super set)

C1)3×10 Rows

C2):30 lunge hold each side

(super set)

 

 

 

Training log 6/20

Well it’s official started week 1 day 1 of the program yesterday.  Got through all my testing last week.  Hit 280 for 5 on my deadlift and 125 for 5 on my over head press.

Now keep in mind these are not true 5 rm maxes.

With this kind of testing it is not about grinding through the reps.  I am not sacrificing form to squeak out one more.

Instead I am looking/feeling for changes in bar speed and form.

Jim Wendler even suggests that it is better to start off lighter than try to push heavier.  The hardest part is taking the ego out of it.

Anywho………

Yesterday started the program.  I just got an airdyne (for $100) over the weekend.  Did my first 20(ish) minute ride yesterday  morning.  Boy did that suck.

The first 10 minutes were OK, but needed to break a lot the second 10.  Guess my legs are that out of condition.  The airdyne is a necessary part of the program not just for conditioning purposes, but recovery as well.

Later on I hit the gym for my squat and bench day.  Everything felt good lifting.  Wasn’t sure how things were gonna go after working a double at my second job the day before.

I have also noticed that since starting to lift heavy again I have been wanting to nap more lately.  Not sure if it is because of the humidity we have had, or if they are muscle growth naps.

Have my second day of riding the bike, which I am so looking forward too (sarcasm alert) and a body weight circuit lined up for today.

I will check back in next week to let you know how things are going.

Why there is a time place for everything.

I finally broke down and did something I never thought I would do again……   I joined a gym.

I swear I only did it because I need access to heavy weight.

I am starting my off season rugby training program.  This is a time devoted to developing size and strength.

This means I’m getting back to the basic strength exercises of squat, dead lifts, bench press and over head press.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I am coming off a training phase based around a minimalist training program that used kettlebell and bodyweight exercises done either in a complex or a circuit.

The complexes allowed me to move fluidly and do a lot of work in a short amount of time.

That training style was more ideal for my in season needs.  At this point I needed to make sure I worked good movement to prevent bad movement habits from developing.

Bad movement can lead to poor on field performance or even an injury. 

 The kettlebell and bodyweight movements were just what I needed to recover, and maintain strength to prevent those things from happening.   
The kettlebell and bodyweight movements allowed me to address mobility, stability and retrain movement in ways I felt the barbell couldn’t.

At this point in my training I feel the barbell others me a better chance to increase my raw strength.

This doesn’t mean the kettlebell and bodyweight movements are completely out of my training, they just aren’t the focus.

The kettlebell and bodywright stuff are used on my non lifting days to help me recover, build volume, work as accessory exercises and keep me feeling athletic.

What I am trying to show you if that you don’t have to be married to one style of training all the time. 

There is no “bad program” out there.  But there is a time and place for everything.

Your training needs to reflect your goals.  As your goals change, so should your training.

I am excited to be back in the gym and touching heavy barbells again.  The time away from the barbell has me excited to get back to hitting a lifting routine.  

Don’t worry though, those complexes will be back in time for the fall season.