Friday Fit 5 week of 2/24/17

What an awesome week it’s been here in CT weather wise.  Not that it’s been a horrendous winter, but there is something about 60 degrees and sunny that makes you want to come out of hibernation.

In fact in writing this drinking my coffee on the patio of my favorite coffee shop.  Drinking a mix of a Raspberry Chic Creme flavored coffee and Vanilla flavored coffee.  Don’t worry no actual creme, all black.

But it’s great.   Something about being outside with the birds chirping has me thinking about hitting the links soon and that always puts a smile on my face.  Either that or I have just been so vitamin D deficient that  my body is happy to see some sunlight.

Well enough small talk let’s get into why you’re all here this week’s 5 best fitness articles.

1) speaking of nice weather my buddy and fellow fitness coach Pete did a vlog about ways to get fit outdoors.

2) Definitely will have to make these bacon avocado fries happen soon

3) start you days off right by avoiding these 10 breakfast foods

4). Maybe make this instead.

5) and finally let’s break down the bear crawl with the Prehab Guys.  One of my favorite exercises for strength, flexibility, stability and conditioning.  Try them like this or this.  You’re welcome 😉🌶🌶🌶
That will do it for this week.  Enjoy the beautiful weather

How to unleash your super powers

If you have been following me for some time you probably see that I have been posting some great tips to help you get fit. I wanted to take the opportunity this week for you guys to learn a bit about me, my journey, and how it has led me to helping others achieve their goals.  I feel it is important for my readers to know who is giving them their advice.

Here is my story

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Like many kids I wanted to be Superman growing up.  You bet I tied a towel around my neck and pretended I could leap tall buildings in a single bound, be faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and be able to bend steel with my bare hands.

In real life though instead of battling against bad guys, I was battling against my weight. I grew up with back problems and asthma which made getting strong, fast, fit, and happy hard to do.

It was safe to say I was against anything fitness related growing up because it was uncomfortable and because of that I became lazy.

My greatest excuse was using my asthma to get out of our warm up jog in 7th grade gym class.  I almost failed gym when they found out I was supposed to use my inhaler before class, I just conveniently forget….OOPS!

Thankfully I loved playing sports.  It wasn’t until high school that I got serious about football and began taking fitness seriously.   I wanted to play, and someone who was weak and slow just wasn’t going to be out on the field for strategic and safety reasons.  So I decided to change that and began lifting.

At first it was hard and uncomfortable, but amazing thing started to happen.  I felt like I was becoming a superhero.

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No longer did it feel like I had cinder blocks around my feet when I ran,  Or hand an anchor around me when I tried to jump.  I found I had more energy, felt less pain performing movements, and even became confident in myself and happy.

It was hard work but the results were well worth it.  Going through the process taught me a lot about toughness, and taking pride in earning your accomplishments.

Over time I began to enjoy the grind and it has become something I love to do.

I share my story with you because I wanted to show you that trainers aren’t Greek Gods carved from marble eating broccoli and cauliflower out of the womb.

We all have a story, a reason why we got started with all this fitness stuff in the first place.  For me I was tired of living in pain, overweight, and having things like my asthma hold me back from things like a gym class jog.

It wasn’t easy by any means.  It took a lot of hard work along with trial and error to get where I wanted.

 

I am living proof you don’t have to settle.  I was lazy, soft minded, and out of shape until I got angry and tired of it holding me back.  The moral of the story is that you have the capacity to change your situation.

I am here to help people unleash their super powers and take back their lives.

It all starts with mindset.  If you have the right mindset it doesn’t matter what you do in the gym.

I know it can be easy to get lost doing this fitness stuff.   There are a million exercises and training styles, each trainer preaching how this one is better than that one.  But none of them work if you don’t have the proper mindset.

Tweaking what you do in the gym is easy.  But with the wrong mindset it is easy to run away at the first sign of failure.

That is why I coach.

That is why I write this blog.

To teach and inspire you to accomplish your goals.  Because I care.  I know how you feel.  I have been there.

But at the end of the day it’s not about me caring.  YOU have to care as well and invest the time and effort into eating right, training, doing your homework if you want to achieve your goals.

It won’t be easy, but it can be done!

 

Do you have a story to tell?  We would love to hear it.  Let us know in the comment section below what motivated you to get started.

If you happen to be one of those people who I mentioned who are lost click on this link to receive your personal map to accomplishing your goals. 

 

Friday Fit 5 Week of 2/17/17

Hope everyone enjoyed their Valentine’s Day with their loved ones.  I had to work Tuesday evening so my girlfriend and I actually ended up celebrating on Monday.  It was great we were able to go to any restaurant we wanted, no reservation necessary.

Anyways here are the best articles I found this week to show your body some love.

  1. Who doesn’t love Instagram?  Great way to see what our friends are up to and see some pretty cool things.  Well be careful there are a lot of fake experts out there as well, especially when it comes to fitness and nutrition.  Here are are a few reasons why you need to be aware of them.
  2. It’s been said that food is the best medicine. This article provides a great list of foods you should eat and avoid if you have migraines.  Perfect for someone like me who has migraines run in their family.
  3. It is bound to happen that you are going to hit a plateau in your fat loss journey.  Here are 10 great tips from Muscle and Fitness to help you break through those plateaus.  Number 5 is one that is often over looked.
  4. I love using resistance bands in my workout for warming up, prehab work, strength/power work, conditioning and stretching.  Muscle and Fitness shows us how to incorporate 4 different types of bands into our routine.
  5. Many people are getting ready for vacations this holiday weekend.  Here are some tips to stay fit while traveling.  Didn’t know about number 4. Think that one is pretty cool

That’s all folks.  Enjoy your weekend.

How to change resistance without increasing weight

For those of us who workout at home running out of the necessary weight is a reality, and just buying more isn’t always an option. So how is it we can still stimulate the response we need in our workout to  lose weight and get strong without loading up the bar?  Well pull up a chair because today I am going to share with you a couple different methods to help increase resistance without adding weight.

Progressively overloading our bodies with stress is how we get stronger. At some point you will have face this good problem(good because it means we got STRONG) of running out of enough weight to create the stress necessary to challenge us.

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I face this problem as I work out at home with kettle bells and my set only goes so high. Not to toot my own horn,  but I have gotten to the point that I am too strong or efficient with movement to perform some exercises with my bells.

I am sure many others face this problem whether it be at home or when they run out of dumbbells at the gym.

It would be easy to just say hey buy some heavier bells, but that can be expensive and unfortunately I don’t have a money tree in the back yard that I can raid, and most gyms won’t buy equipment for just one person.

So what to do?  Well below are some ways we can still challenge our bodies without increasing weight.

Maximal power out put

This is a great way to build strength with  light weight.  Kettlebell guru Pat Flynn talks about this a lot in his blog and videos  on why this makes the kettle bell such a great strength building tool.

Kettle bells don’t get heavy enough to be as heavy as a loaded barbell. Because they are lighter than our maximal loading we can make up for that and we try to move them quickly and as explosively as possible.

Instead of trying to lift the most amount of pounds, you are trying to exert the most amount of force onto an object as quickly as possible. It requires a lot of strength to create the force necessary to accelerate and then to rapidly decelerate an object.   This makes exercises like jumping for max height/distance an effective strength builder and fat burner as well.

Resistance Bands

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Resistance bands are a great way to add more resistance and intensity to a lift.

Resistance bands are affordable and very versatile as they can be used for not just strength, but power and mobility work as well.

Resistance bands are unique strength builders because unlike weights the tension does not stay constant throughout the duration of the lift.  Resistance bands increase in resistance is gradual, providing it’s greatest resistance at the end of the lift (the lock out).

You can add  bands to just about anything to add more resistance.  I have seen them used by themselves, on barbells for squats and dead lifts, and even around kettle bells to increase the force at the top of the kettle bell swing (lock out) as well as the eccentric (negative) part by speeding up us throwing the bell back down to reset causing us to absorb the force.

Even just adding a mini band around the knees during a squat can be effective in increasing resistance.

Decrease stability

Having a solid base is vital to efficiently move the most weight.  Unfortunately when we become efficient at something we don’t get stronger or lose weight because we are not being challenged.

Some ways we can challenge our stability is through our stance.  For example lunging and split squats are great as it decreases our base of support forcing us to work one leg at time.

This requires us to work harder to balance and engage our core so we stay up right and straight.

This is also useful for upper body exercises.  Ever try doing a push up with only one foot on the ground? It challenges your core more to distribute the weight evenly and in doing so distributes more weight on our arms making the movement “heavier”.

(Read more about single side exercises here)

Change Tempo

 

Tempo is the speed in which we perform an exercise.  Many of us try to perform an exercise as fast as possible.  But have you thought of controlling the movement?

You can control negative, positive, and even hold the positions to add intensity.

Try a tempo squat or push up where it takes you 3 seconds to go down, 3 second hold in the bottom position, and requires 3 seconds for you to come back up.  It makes these movements extra spicy that build a ton of strength and mental toughness.

Shorten Rest Periods

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Shortening rest time between lifts will force you to perform reps in a more fatigued state.  This will make weights feel heavier because your muscles are tired.

Increase Range of Motion

Increasing the range of motion causes us to do more work as the weight or our body has to travel further to complete the lift.  This works great with exercises like the dead lift and push ups.

For the dead lift stand on a platform with the bar lower than usual than lift.  You will find pulling from a deficit to be much challenging as the bar has to travel further to reach lockout.

For the push up put your hands on either boxes or dumb bells so you can drop lower and really have to push more.

Max Reps

Performing an exercise for max reps is a great way to work  your 1 rep max, without using 1 rep max weight.

This is the entire theory behind Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program.  You max  each each workout by doing as many reps as possible on your last working set.

You don’t have to just follow 5/3/1 to do this.

Simply pick an exercise and perform reps until failure, or set a time limit and try to achieve as many reps as you can given that time.

You can do this with weighted movements or body weight movements.

I love using these for tests for tracking strength gains and work capacity.  It’s easy if you did more reps than last time you got stronger/fitter.

Some examples include:

Dan John’s 30 minute challenge where you see how many times you can dead lift 315 in 30 minutes.

Personally I love testing my clients to see how many unbroken/perfect push ups they can do.

There you have it.  Some ways you can easily add resistance without adding weight. Try some of these out and let us know what you think, or if you attempt some of the challenges let us know how you do in the comments section.

Did we miss something?  Let us know some ways you add resistance to your workouts without adding weight, or hit us with any other fitness related questions you want answered.

Stay tuned to this blog as well as I will be releasing a new easy to follow Intermediate strength program soon.  If you are interested use this link to sign up!  In the mean time visit me on Instagram: @sjg_sports to get a little snipit of what to expect.

8 reasons you are not getting a great night’s sleep

Do you struggle getting to sleep?  I mean how can something so easy, be so hard?  Really all it requires is for you to just lay there, dream, and breathe.  Then why is it so many people struggle getting to sleep?

Sleep is vital to keeping out bodies and mind healthy, yet is the most overlooked aspect of health.  Well put away those sleeping pills because today you are going to learn 8 tips to help you get a great night’s rest.

I am in the middle of getting my learn on at Housatonic Community College taking Dr. Toedt’s Anatomy and Physiology II class, where we are currently studying how awesome the brain is.

Today’s lesson was on sleep.

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Sleep is essential for the human body, yet many of us don’t get enough of it.  Our bodies need at least 8 hours of sleep (2 cycles of deep sleep) to get all it’s benefits.

Sleep does a lot more for us than making us less of a  grouch because we are cranky.

Sleep is the body’s opportunity to repair it’s tissue from the stress we place on it throughout the day (this is actually the strength building portion of our day, not the gym part).

Sleep also sorts through and stores vital memories in the brain from the previous day so we can learn new things.

Now that we see how important getting our ZZZZZZs are let’s focus ways we can improve the quality of our sleep.

Avoid caffeine before sleep time

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This one seems pretty obvious.  Caffeine is a stimulant that heightens our senses.

But did you know caffeine has a half life of 6 hours.  That means it will remain in your system and keep you up for 6 hours.  Make sure you have that last cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage 6 hours before you want to go to bed.

No electronic devices 1 hour before sleep

Just like caffeine, electronic devices act as a stimulate.  They specifically stimulate (and damage) our eyes and minds making it hard to calm down before bed.

No TV in bedroom

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This is one my girlfriend and I fight about all the time.

We just mentioned above how electronic devices stimulate us.  By taking the TV out of the bedroom we can actually train our mind that the bedroom is for two things

  1. Sleep
  2. Sex

Hot shower/Warm Milk

These two things have been shown to help relax the body.

Keep room at 68 degrees

Keeping the room from getting too hot/too cold can help the mind and body relax. Keeping the room at this comfortable temperature doesn’t overwork the body and brain dealing and reacting to the extreme temperatures.

Put a plant in the bedroom

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This was a great tip Dr. Toedt provided.  Putting a real plant in the bedroom will produce more oxygen.  When was more oxygen consumption a bad thing?

Block outside light and noise

Use shades, blind folds, ear plugs whatever to block out the things that may disturb you from getting sleep….well everything except that pesky alarm clock.

Read

Reading is a great activity to do before bed.  Not only do we get smarter, but it helps relax the mind, especially if you are reading a textbook for class

Dr. Toedt shared with us one more interesting fact that should make it even more enticing to follow these tips.  In a test involving drunk people driving and sleep deprived people driving (people who averaged 5 hours a night) the sleep deprived people were more dangerous.

Do you have any tricks that you use to help you get more sleep? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

Friday Fit 5 week of 2/3/17

I hope everyone had a great week and is ready for the big game this Sunday. Here are this weeks fittest links, Super Bowl edition.

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  1. We all know food is a huge part of any Super Bowl Party.  Here are 11 ways to keep your snacks healthy and delicious.  I can’t decide which looks the most delicious between number 4, 7 and 8.
  2. Do you think the Bench test at the NFL combine is great?  John Cena doesn’t think so.   What exercise would you replace the bench test with?  Thanks to my buddy and fellow trainer Pete for the article.
  3. Biotest suggests you should work these 5 exercises if you want to lift forever. I just wrote a blog post of exercise number 3 yesterday.
  4. Prevent burn out from all the hard work you put in with these 9 tips from Success magazine.  Number 9 really helped me to break a few of my personal slumps.
  5. And of course I couldn’t leave you without a delicious recipe.  Check out this Creamy Tomato Basil Zucchini “Linguini”.

 

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Why you must add loaded carries to your training and how to do them

Strongmen aren’t the only people who should be doing loaded carries.  If you are a stay at home mom looking for that exercise to give you the biggest bang for your buck , look no further than loaded carry.

What makes them so great is that they address everyone’s training goals and can be taught in less than 5 minutes. So go grab the nearest ginormous and keep it close by, because by the end of this post you are going to want to start carrying everything in sight.

There is no better exercise than loaded carries if you are looking to build total body strength, burn fat, and/or get in better condition.

Because they are such a simple exercise though they tend to get overlooked in our training regimens.

I mean think back to the last time you had to unload the car full of groceries, or carry your suitcase through the airport.  I bet it didn’t take long for you to feel your heart beat faster and your muscles starting to feel tired making the 40lbs bag feel like 1 million pounds.

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The best thing about loaded carries is we can begin developing strength, burn fat, and condition you without having to teach you a ton of technique because chances are (unless you are Richy Rich and have butlers do everything) it is pretty likely you have had to carry something in your life.

I like to think of carries like a walking plank.  They force us to engage our core because we need to have perfect posture as we walk, otherwise we risk dropping our object or injuring our back.

Time under tension is the chief rule of strength and muscle building.  This is what makes slow lifts like squats and dead lifts huge muscle builders.

In order to carry an object you have to be able to hold/support it through out the duration.  Carries will challenge the strength of  your  grip, arms, chest, shoulders, back, core and legs as we move our objects over a certain distance or for a determined amount of time.

Adding the movement aspect on top of taxing our muscles (remember strength builds muscle, muscle is our biggest fat burner in the body) causes loaded carries to be an insane fat burner.

Now the reason I keep saying that we carry objects is because you can carry just about anything, in a variety of positions.

What can I carry?

A few examples of objects you can carry include:

  • Kettle bells/dumbbells
  • Farmers handles
  • Sand bags
  • Back packs
  • barbells
  • yokes
  • stones/med balls
  • weighted vests
  • People
  • Refrigerator …………

How can I carry objects?

A few of the different carry styles include:

  • Farmers Carry
  • Suitcase Carry (single side farmers carry)
  • Over head carry
  • Single side over head carry
  • Waiters carry
  • Front Rack Rack Carry
  • Zercher’s Carry
  • Off balance carries in all positions (light one side, heavy on the other)
  • Different side position carries

I absolutely love the single side and different side position carries.  The unbalance due to the unequal loads/positions are great for challenging the core even  more so as it requires more effort to stay up right and straight.

Programming

Now there are quite a few ways you can program carries.

You can go light and for a long distance to build endurance and conditioning. I also like doing light carries in between exercises in a ladder.  For example

10-1 front rack squats do 20 yard farmers carry between each set.

You can go super intense with extremely heavy for a short distances (10-20 yards) to build massive strength and work on energy out put.  Try doing that for 5 rds with a long rest between sets and tell me that won’t jack up your heart rate.

I also like setting a timer for 10 minutes and carry a medium weight for recovery after a heavy lifting day.  It does a great job resetting the body and the repetitive motion of walking is awesome for flushing out the legs of soreness.

It should be easy to see why loaded carries need to be a part of your workout.  They are easy to do, accessible to just about anyone, build massive strength, burn a ton of fat, and get us in great condition.

What are you waiting for! Pick something up and get moving.

Do you use carries in your workout?  If you do let us know how you use them in the comments section below and let us know what your favorite carry is.