Friday Fit 5 week of 1/27/17

Hey guys hope you didn’t miss me too much  last week. Sorry to leave you hanging but there are a lot of exciting things in the works.  Don’t worry though I am back this week to bring you the 5 best articles I came across this week.

  1. Worn out from the week?  Well here are 13 happy quotes to help you lift your spirits for the weekend.
  2. Nutrition guru Dr. John Berardi from Precision Nutrition gives his thoughts on the low-carb/steady state cardio fitness combo here.
  3. Who doesn’t love Avocados?  Well here is how you can grow your own and have all the delicious guac you want.
  4. Stop complaining about whatever.  Zach Even-esh reminds us why life is good this week.
  5. Check out this list of 15 reasons it’s better to work out at home.  I know a few people who would be sold after point 1.

That’s it for this week.  Enjoy the last weekend in January.  Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.

 

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Why you must include single side exercises in your trainimg

 

Single side exercises (unilateral movements) are a must for anyone looking to lose weight, increase strength, and prevent injuries.  Single side exercises challenge the body in ways bilateral movements can’t.  If you are looking to break through a plateau or just trying to deal with your aches and pains then stick around to find out how unilateral exercises can help.

Bilateral exercises such as squats, dead lifts, bench and over head press are awesome lifts to build strength as they allow us to move massive amounts of weight.  Over time though our bodies get used to these movements not only resulting in plateaus due to adaptation, but muscle imbalances due to our bodies cheating the movements to get the work done.

These muscle imbalances can lead to you getting jacked up due to not using the right muscle groups to perform movements (muscle dysfunction).  When we build strength we don’t want to build strength on top of muscle dysfunction.  This is like making an investment in a company that is filing for bankruptcy.

So how do we prevent muscle dysfunction and break through plateaus?

Enter unilateral exercises.

I love unilateral exercises for a variety of reasons.

They are great for regressions

I love using unilateral movements as a regression.  For example I love using a split squat to teach a person how to squat.

The split squat requires you to balance while performing the squat movement. Balancing forces you to learn where your weight should be on the foot as you squat.  If you are not on the right part of the foot you might fall over.

As a result of being on the right part of our foot, a chain reaction occurs of proper knee placement and glue activation.

It also helps to build volume in each leg that way you can be ready to squat heavier weight when it comes to bilateral squat exercises.

They are challenging

In order to get strong, or lose weight we need to challenge our bodies.  Unilateral movements are great at challenging our bodies.

Balancing on one leg while performing a movement greatly taxes our central nervous system.  Doing things like pistol squats (single leg squats) can be a great progression from bilateral squats that help you get stronger.

At the same time only working one side eliminates help from the other side.  For example with a barbell military press your dominant arm might shoulder more of the load and work harder during the lift.

If you incorporate a single side press you can’t rely on that other side to help you out and build strength in the weaker arm. This is what helps to eliminate muscle imbalances making your stronger and bullet proof.

Great for the core

Unilateral exercises force you to stabilize in your hips, shoulders (if pressing), and most definitely your core.

The job of our core is to protect our spine and to keep us erect.

Unilateral exercises force our core to stay up right and not rotate.  If you want to protect that low back staying up right and not twisting the wrong way is vital when we perform movements in the gym and in life.

Performing unilateral exercises have helped me tremendously in my lifts and overall movement. These exercises have helped train through sticky points so that way when I come back to that weight/movement I feel pretty solid and strong.

After all isn’t that what training is all about?

Here are a few of my favorite unilateral exercises:

  1. Split squat
  2. Single leg dead lift
  3. Single leg hip bridge
  4. Single arm floor press
  5. Single arm over head press
  6. Lunge variations (forward, backward, side lunge)
  7. Skater jumps
  8. Split jumps
  9. Single arm kettlebell/dumbell clean and press
  10. Single arm kettlebell/dumbell snatch
  11. Turkish get up
  12. Single arm rows
  13. Single side carries
  14. Side planks

These exercises can be used to warm up, for strength work, or accessory work.

For example I love using side lunges as a warm up for squats as in stretches the groin, but also gives me that feeling of pushing the knee out so it tracks over the toes.  I love using split squats as accessory work on squat day to work each leg individually.

What are some of your favorite unilateral exercises that you use to burn fat, get strong and prevent injuries?  Let us know in the comments section below.

Looking to  lose weight PERMANENTLY the right way?  Then visit me here  to find out how I can help you via online or in person fitness coaching.

 

 

The one movement everyone should be training

The Turkish Get Up is the one exercise everyone needs to be doing.  No other exercise builds joint stability, increases mobility and challenges our core quite like the get up.  It’s time to get up and make some space around you because I am going to show you how to do this awesome movement today.

The Turkish Get Up is one of my favorite exercises and one of the first things I try to progress my clients to.  It is a total body movement that requires patience and coordination while it challenges our strength and increases our hip and shoulder mobility.

It works 5 out of the 7 basic human movements (it incorporates a hinge, squat, push, twist, and floor work) so you get a lot of bang for your buck with this exercise.

Because it works everything I love using it as a warm up, in my workouts or as a cool down after a high rep kettlebell session.

The concept is really simple get off the ground with a weight over head.  But try doing 10 reps alternating side and you will be sweating, out of breath in no time and your shoulders and core will be screaming.

It is a great total body strength builder since it is a long slow movement and it puts the whole body under tension for a long time.  Trust me that weight will get heavy quick.

If you are looking for a good time, here is how we do it:

The Turkish Get Up begins with us lying on our back.  We have one hand up like we are at the top of a bench press (we will call this the weight hand from here on out).

The leg on the side of the weight hand will be folded close to our butt like we were doing a hip bridge.  This foot does not move.  I want you think of it as being stuck in cement.

You are set up correctly if you look like this:

get up start.jpg

To start the movement I want you to think about rolling on your non-weight shoulder and punch your weight hand to the sky.  As we begin to move I want you to keep in mind to never take your eyes off your weight hand throughout the entire movement.

Once on the shoulder I want you to work your way up to your fore arm on the non weighted hand and punch the weight arm up to the sky even further.  You should begin to be in a semi-seated position.

From here we will work to our hand so we are sitting up right.

Here is where the move starts to get tricky.  Once in this upright position I want you to press through the heel of your planted weight side leg and push your hips to the sky. As we bridge I want you to sneak your non weight leg underneath the bridging leg so you are in a kneeling position.

Once in the kneeling position work yourself up right so you are in a lunge position with the weight over head.

Now stand up.

get up all.jpg

Congratulations you are only half way done!  Now you need to work your way back down.  To do that you are going to retrace your steps in reverse.

Kneel down

Put your non weight hand on the ground

bridge and kick your back leg to a seated position

lower your body down

work your way on to your forearm, shoulder and finally laying flat.

The idea of the get up is to move around the weight in your arm, not the weight around you.  If you do it right you should feel your shoulders and core on fire.

The biggest mistake is people rushing this movement.  Take your time and be sure to hit each position.  I like to tell my clients recite the order in your head.  Once you said the step fully you can then move to the next part. This ensures proper pacing.

We want to work on being strong in each position.  Each position forces us to engage different muscles to stabilize our bodies and the weight overhead.

This movement can be done with no weight (closing your eyes with no weight makes this really challenging), barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells (try bottoms up kettlebell to make it even spicier), I have even seen this turn into a circus trick where people have been used as weight.

get up.jpg

Now it’s your turn. I would love to hear how you incorporated it into your training and what item you used for weight.  Have fun, train smart and be safe!

Friday Fit 5 week of 1/13/17

Happy Friday the 13th.  Be on the lookout for black cats, ladders, and our good friend Jason.

But now into the 5 best fitness articles I came across the interwebs this week.

  1. Who doesn’t love hash browns?  Here is a recipe for guilt free hash browns made with cauliflower.
  2. My friend Pat Flynn at Chronicles of strength gave 10 tips on how to lose belly fat. All great tips but I love number 8!
  3. Drinking water is a must…but it can get boring.  Here are what 13 foodies drink all day because water gets boring.  Let me know which is your favorite in the comments.
  4. I love strongman workouts.  They are simple, effective, and fun because it seems more like doing work than a workout. Breaking Muscle does a great job talking all about it here.
  5. Detoxes are a very popular with people trying to jump start their weight loss.  See what Ryan Andrews from Precision Nutrition has to say about detoxes here.

Hope everyone has a healthy, safe, and fun weekend.  See you all next week!

 

 

 

Everything you need to know to warm up correctly

Are you taking the time to perform a proper warm up before your workout? If you said no or aren’t sure, this might be the best thing you read all day. Today I am going to show you how to properly warm up to help prevent injuries and maximize your results in the gym.

Do any of these warm ups sound familiar to you?

  • 5 minute jog on the treadmill
  • Static stretch holds
  • A few toe touches, arm circles before loading the bar
  • Warm up?  Ain’t no body got time for that!

aint nobody got time for that.jpg

If any of those sounded familiar I am sorry to say I have some bad news for you. Your warm up is leaving valuable gains on the table and vulnerable to injury.

I have been guilty of using the above warm ups in the past.  But over the years I have learned a better way to warm up that has left me feeling better in my workout with less far aches and pains.  And now I want to do the same for you.

Last week I gave your a easy to follow template to properly structure your workout.  The first piece of any workout needs to be your warm up.

I get it you don’t want to waste time on your warm up.  It’s not a huge calorie burner.  I mean what benefits can a warm up have any way?

A proper warm up does wonders.  Not only does it help us prevent injury but it,  wake up our brain, gets us into our warrior mindset to attack our workout, and primes the body for the movements to be performed in our workout.

The most time efficient way that covers all the things mentioned above is the active dynamic warmup. A good active dynamic warm up will:

  • Raises body temperature
  • Increase blood flow to muscles
  • Wakes up the brain
  • Fires up communication between the nerves and muscles
  • Raises heart rate
  • Lubricates joints
  • Prevent injuries
  • Mimics movements that will be performed in the workout
  • Allow you to check in with your body to see how you are feeling
  • Take between 10-15 minutes to do

There are a lot of different kinds of dynamic warm ups out there, and none are wrong as long as they do the things mentioned above and get the body moving in all directions.

For instance a distance runners warm up and a power lifters warm up will be different, just as their workout will be different.Your warm up should reflect your needs, goals and the style of workout.

Below is the warm up I use for my clients and my personal workout.  It is based off of Joe Defranco’s agile 8.

  1. Foam roll (calves, outside thigh, inside thigh, butt, upper back)
  2. 5 walkouts to spider man with a twist on each side and 10 calf peddles walk it back in
  3. 10x Roll over to a v-sit or banded hamstring stretch (up and down/ swing side to side)
  4. 10x Cat and camel
  5. 5x kneeling twists r/l
  6. 10 hip cirlces fwd and bwd
  7. 10x Groiners each side
  8. 5x Squat thrust to twist to hamstring stretch
  9. 10x Lunge rocks each side

Here is a different style warm up that I might use for an athlete before a game/practice.

10 yards each exercise

  1. 20 jumping jacks
  2. 20 seal jacks
  3. Inch worm
  4. 3 step toe touch
  5. 3 step quad pull
  6. Knee Pull
  7. Cradle
  8. lunge with a reach back
  9. lunge with a twist
  10. Side lunge with a rock and alternating sides
  11. over the fence/under the fence
  12. High knees
  13. Shuffle L
  14. Shuffle R
  15. Skips
  16. Broad Jump

These two warm ups, while different in style, both get the body moving in all directions.  In each warm up you can see how we get the body moving forward, backwards, side to side, and twist at the joints in both our lower and upper body.  This gets us prepared for any way we might move in our workout/practice.

Personally I like to do an extended warm up after. This gets more specific to things related to my workout that day, or extra work I feel I need to address sticky points I found in my warm up.

Things like crawls, jumps, mini band lateral/monster walks, light kettlebell swings and squats, banded pull a parts, and a variety of get ups are a few of my favorites.

Don’t be scared to develop your own workout routine.  You need to find one that addresses your needs.  You know you have a good warm up if it gets the body moving in all directions, works specific movements to your workout, and gets you to start breathing hard and sweating a little.

I would love to hear about your warm up routine or any fitness questions in the comments section below.

Looking to lose weight, get strong, as well as move and feel better?  I am looking to add a few more online and in person clients.  Fill out the information on this page and you will be contacted ASAP.

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Steve is a NASM CPT and Crossfit Level 1 fitness coach who has a passion for building strength. He views strength building as the ultimate tool for weight loss, performance training, and rehab/prehab for injuries. Steve is currently studying to become a Physical Therapist Assistant. Steve runs his own concierge fitness coaching service in CT. Contact Steve at sjgsports@gmail.com for training to have your questions answered.

 

Friday Fit 5 week of 1/6/2017

I hope everyone had a happy and safe New Years.  Many of you are probably starting off on your health based resolutions this week.  Here are a few articles I think that might be able to help you out.cobb salad.jpg

  1. “I don’t have time to eat healthy” is not an excuse anymore with recipes like this Salad in a jar from Delish.com.  This is something perfect for anyone always on the go
  2. Great post and chat from one of my favorite people, Kettle bell guru Pat Flynn of Chronicles of Strength, does a great job why you shouldn’t be doing SO much cardio if you want to lose weight.  Read his post here
  3. Tom Kelso at Breaking Muscle does a great job of letting you know some of the common mistakes people make in their training, and how the can avoid them.  Number 6 is a biggie!
  4. Another delicious recipe coming at you this weekfrom Mindith Rahmat at Breaking Muscle.  This Butternut Squash, Bean, and Beef Bowl looks absolutely amazing.  Who said eating healthy can’t be delicious?
  5. Are you guilty of any of these 8 traits?  Well according to Success Magazine successful people waste their time doing those things.

There you have it folks, your Friday Fit 5.  Tune in next week for more articles to help you out on your fitness journey.

Need help trying to lose weigh or put an end to your aches and pains? I am currently in the process of taking on new clients interested in fat loss and feeling better.   I want to make sure you get your spot before my schedule fills up.  Follow this link to set up your complimentary fitness assessment.

 

Enjoy your weekend!!!!!

Your simple guide for structuring workouts

It is tough trying to put together your daily workout routine when you first start at the gym. That is why I am bringing you this easy to follow workout so you can get the most out of your training.

I am a nice guy and don’t want to see you just roam around the gym aimlessly going from one machine to the other.

That grows old quickly and combine that with a lack of results, it’s no wonder people give up on the gym.  I don’t want to see that happen to you.

Below is a basic template you can follow to get the most out of your training session.  Your workout should include:

  1. Warm up
  2. Main lift
  3. Accessory/Conditioning
  4. Fluff and buff
  5. Cool down

Your workout should not be anymore than 6-8 exercises.  Anymore than that and you are just overdoing it.  Some of my best workouts have only included 2 exercises.  So more is not always better.

Always start with your warm up.  This part is often the most overlooked and not always taken seriously. 

I understand that the warm up is not a big calorie burner and seems like a big waste of time, but it is essential if you want to get the most out of your training and Oh Yea! prevent injury.

Now that we have you all warmed up we can get into the meat and potatoes of the day, our workout.

Work big to small.  Your workout shout start with the exercise that are going to give you the most bang for your buck.

Exercises that work the most muscle groups are the most taxing on our bodies.   The most taxing exercises are the ones that help you build the most strength and burn the most calories, making this ideal exercises for anyone’s fitness goals.

The BIG exercises include power movements such as jumps, med ball throws, and  thr more advanced Olympic lifts. Other big movements include your heavy lifts such as squats, dead lifts, and pressing.

These lifts force different us to use many muscles at various joints while moving a heavy load.  That is why we make all our gains with these lifts.

Pick one main lift for each day. Alternate your strength days between your upper and lower body.  If you are only training heavy 2x a week, pair a lower body exercise with an upper body exercise for strength (i.e. squats/bench or dead lift/over head press).

Power work can be done heavy (heavy olympic lifting) or light.  Incorporate light power work on heavy lifting days, as it serves as an extended warm up for our main lift.

Once you get the big lifts out of the way that is when we move on to the accessory and conditioning work.

Next comes your accessory and conditioning work.  Programming these two together can really get you sweating and breathing hard while getting strong….aka “that worked out feeling”.

Accessory exercises are meant to help build strength toward your main lift(s) of the day.  Try to stick with body weight exercises or exercises where use light weight (40-60% of 1 rep max).  The point here is to perform high volume of reps to grow your muscles.  Light weight and body weight movements allow us to accomplish that.

Conditioning can be anything that gets you moving.  Some of my favorites are sled pushes/pulls/drags, loaded carries, sprinting, rowing and the assault bike.  These are great things to use either on their own, or combined with your accessory work.

Programming my accessory and conditioning work is where you are able to add creativity to your workout.  Accessory and conditioning work can be done quite a few ways.  Circuits, super sets, interval training, complexes,as well as sets and reps (bodybuilding style), are just a few of my favorites.

When everything is done that is when you move on to the fluff and buff work.

Fluff and buff work your glamour muscles  This is where you do the curls for the girls so when the sun is out so are your guns.

Now I can already hear it.  “But Steve why can’t I do bicep curls in the beginning”  Well I am glad you asked…. check this out.

Isolation exercises like bicep curls don’t hit that many muscle groups.  If we look at our sample workout below we actually are training our  biceps when we perform the power clean and pull up.

Not only are you training your biceps with those two exercises, but also your bigger back muscles, core muscles, and leg muscles.  Because you include all these other muscle groups you are burning an insane amount of calories and building massive strength.

Lastly, after all that hard work you need to cool your body down.  You need to bring your body back to normal after going 100 miles an hour in your workout.

Unfortunately like the warm up, this is often an overlooked part of a workout.  It is important to return our body to normal after the increased demands we put on it from the workout.

After a high intense workout I might start my cool down with some plank holds to stretch hips and allow my core, shoulders and hip muscles stabilize and to teach my body how to regather itself.

The cool down is the perfect time to perform static stretches to work on flexibility and reset your muscles to their normal length post workout.

Below is an example of what a dead lift day (pulling day) could look like using our template:

1)Light power clean 3×3 (power)

2) Dead lift 3×5 (strength)

3a)10-1 pull up (accessory)

3b)1-10 push up (accessory)

3c)50 foot sled push (conditioning)

4a) 50 bicep curls (fluff and buff)

4b) 50 vertical crunches (abs)

Pretty good day right there.  Little pushing, pulling, hinging, squatting, conditioning and abs all in one training session.

This template offers you a simple, yet balanced way to attack your training.  It allows you to cover all your strength, conditioning, power needs in one session.  This template also provides you with a way to keep creativity and freedom to your workout to keep training fresh and interesting.

Let us know what template you use/or how this template works for you.  Happy training.

Like what you read?  Then subscribe to this blog.  New post to help motivate you and provide training tips every week.

Have suggestions for first timers in the gym?  Share in the comments below.

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Steve is a NASM CPT and Crossfit Level 1 fitness coach who has a passion for building strength. He views strength building as the ultimate tool for weight loss, performance training, and rehab/prehab for injuries. Steve is currently studying to become a Physical Therapist Assistant. Steve provides in-home personal training as well as on-line coaching. You contact Steve at sjgsports@gmail.com with any questions or comments you might have.