Category Archives: Training

12 Days of Fitness 2019: Day 8 – Dispelling 5 Common Training Lies

(This is part 8 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

As a fitness professional, it is my job to not only work with people but educate them on the how, why, and what about fitness. In my 25 years of being a fitness professional I think I’ve heard and seen it all. Every once and a while something will surface that gets a lot of press and notoriety that people take for gospel. Most times, it’s something that was bad news in the past that’s just been repackaged to look new and sound better. It’s not. So here I’ve put together 5 of the top fitness/training myths that continue to pop up from time to time and ruin most people’s journey to optimum health and fitness.

  1. You have to confuse your muscles. If you’ve ever bought into the hype about muscles getting confused (P90X people), pay attention. This idea of “muscle confusion” was fabricated by some clever fitness marketing gurus eager to sell their products. Simply put, muscle confusion states that you have to change up your workout from session to session or from week to week – different exercises, varying rep ranges, and switching up rest periods – in order to get leaner, faster, and stronger. And by never giving your body a chance to adapt to a specific routine, you’ll never plateau and consequently never stop making improvements. Not exactly. Spend too much time with any one specific stimuli and your body will adapt to it less and less. But actively changing things up from time to time will yield much better returns – no confusion.
  2. You can lose tons of fat and gain muscle at the same time if you train hard enough. In an ideal world, yes. But in the real world, no. The only types of people who can simultaneously pile on muscle and melt fat are beginners, those who are just coming back to the gym after a long hiatus, very obese individuals, or folks on performance-enhancing drugs. Unless you’re one of the above, you’ll be spinning your wheels if you really want to try and go down this route. Prioritize one over the other and keep up the intensity in the gym regardless of your goal.
  3. Cardio will burn fat. Steady-state cardio is not inherently a fat loss modality. By itself, it does have mild benefits for cardiovascular health, but it’s not going to get you the lean physique you’re striving for. The more cardio you do, the more efficient your body becomes at burning calories. Sounds like a good thing at first glance, but if fat loss is your goal, this is the opposite of what you want. Moreover, study after study has shown that exercise protocols involving steady-state cardio have led to negligible weight loss and that aerobic exercise by itself is not an effective form of weight loss therapy.
  4. More volume is better, no matter how you go about it. Translation – more total work is the answer. No. There are people who love to tell you that they spend hours in the gym when in reality the total work they’re actually doing is questionable. Training volume is a critical component of exercise and one that can be easily manipulated. In fact, it’s one of the greatest determinants of muscle growth, much more than any other component of exercise. But the “more is better” mantra is never the goal with exercise. Consistency and progressiveness are.
  5. As long as you exercise, you can eat whatever you want. This is one of my favorites. You ALWAYS have to be mindful of not only what but how much you eat. Exercise is NEVER a permission to eat whatever or how much you want. Most exercise sessions burn a lot less calories than you think (ignore treadmill counters, fitness trackers, or popular fitness threads). The long term effect over time is that you’re typically burning more than being sedentary which will have a positive effect. I will tell you that here is where most people fail. They’ll work out, modestly at best, and then buy a smoothie or their favorite coffee drink that they feel they’ve earned. That’s a big no.

And that’s the problem with much of the information you read – we take an ounce of truth and turn it into two tons of BS. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you tomorrow for Day 9 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #16 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Day #2 – Cholesterol Myths You Need to Stop Believing
Day #3 – Festively Fit: Staying Fit Over the Holidays
Day #410 Fitness Myths That Need to Die
Day #59 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Feeling Full
Day #6The Cult Of Supplements And The Dangers Of Multi-Level Marketing
Day #7 – The First 5 Things Nutritionists Will Tell You To Cut From Your Diet

 

 

12 Days of Fitness: Day 4 – 10 Fitness Myths That Need to Die

(This is part 4 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

A New Year means more people come to the party and with them they carry on believing in old views about fitness and weight loss. Science gets ignored and myths prevail. Good results sometimes require debunking bad ideas. Far too many enter the New Year with old ideas. They still believe fitness myths that were probably debunked years ago. The following are 10 myths that live on because their friends, coworkers, family members, and popular media continue to endorse them.

  1. Lifting weights makes you bulky. To be fair, my industry has come a long way in dispelling this one. But you’ll still get people, particularly women, who believe three-pound weights will build a lean, toned physique while anything heavier will likely lead to tighter pants. There are literally mountains of science-backed benefits linked to resistance training, like improvements in strength, mood, anti-aging effects and metabolism. Look it up. I’m not lying.
  2. The key to results: Eat a lot less and exercise a lot more. This one is so widespread. It’s convincing because it’s only partly true. You do need to be mindful of what you’re eating and for many that simply means eating a lot less. And most likely you need to exercise more frequently. The trick is not to tackle both at the same time, especially not at full speed.
  3. Keto is the best diet for weight loss. Another year, another diet. Just in the low-carb category, we’ve gone from Atkins to South Beach to Paleo and now to Keto. We could create separate timelines for everything from low-fat to vegetarian to fasts and cleanses. Do you see the ridiculousness? With each new fad, we learn yet again that no single diet is right for everyone, while some aren’t a good idea for anyone. When it comes to a lot of these popular diets, most people don’t completely understand the challenges of a particular diet. Stop following blind faith and believe in good ol hard work!
  4. A good workout burns a ton of calories. As someone in my industry who I admire, Gray Cook says, “First move well, then move often.” Burning calories is a byproduct of your physical activity. It will happen. But labeling any workout good or bad by the number of calories burned and you’re not getting the idea. You generally don’t burn a ton of calories in a workout. In fact, unless you are monitored with gas exchange equipment, it’s a best guess.
  5. Cardio is the only way to lose weight. Visit any gym on any day in January and you’ll be hard-pressed to find an open treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, or stairclimber. It’s a sure sign that the general public still believes cardiovascular exercise is the premier way to drop pounds. After all, a cardio machine keeps a running count of the calories you’ve burned, like exercise is a video game and the goal is to get the highest score. Of course cardio exercise can burn a lot of calories. But there’s a catch: You have to do a lot of it.
  6. Stretching will loosen tight muscles. Humans evolved to move, not spend long hours sitting. We sit at our desks at work, on our couches at home, and in cars. The problem with traditional stretching is that it only pulls on a given muscle, with no consideration for the mobility or stability of the joints surrounding it. A more practical approach: improve range of motion and joint function.
  7. Big muscles are built with big weights. Bigger muscles are typically stronger, and stronger muscles are typically bigger. But the science of muscular hypertrophy is actually more nuanced. Load is just one of the major drivers of hypertrophy. You also need time under tension, which is achieved with moderate to high rep ranges and controlled movements, and volume. The more total sets and reps, the greater the training effect.
  8. Every workout needs to be all-out. Never judge the quality of a workout by how fast your heart is racing or how much you are sweating. What’s even more dangerous is going full throttle when you struggle with less than 50%. Learn to progressively increase workout loads and how beneficial it is to cycle your workouts.
  9. Deadlifting hurts your back, and squatting is bad for your knees. The only people who believe this are those who have never done either exercise properly. The squat and hip hinge movement patterns are vital for health and performance. The best training programs include multiple examples of both. You will receive greater benefit from either or both exercises, than skipping them altogether.
  10. Hiring a personal trainer will fix everything. For so many, contracting a personal trainer is a get-out-of-jail-free card. It means you can cheat on your diets, skip workouts, do whatever you want, etc. After all, you hired a trainer, and that should be enough, right? Don’t you wish. Having an experienced trainer, not some glorified cheerleader, for you will be the one stop solution to getting everything and more out of your fitness journey.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you tomorrow for Day 5 of the 12 Days of Fitness!

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #16 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Day #2 – Cholesterol Myths You Need to Stop Believing
Day #3 – Festively Fit: Staying Fit Over the Holidays

 

 

 

12 Days of Fitness 2018: Day 9 – The Best Exercise You’re Probably Not Doing

(This is part 9 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

Gym, or PE programs in schools are not what they use to be. Back then, we participated in physical activity; good old fashioned physical activity. I remember competing in the President’s Physical Fitness Challenge, performing physical tasks like sit ups, pull-ups (chin-ups), running shuttles, and of course, push-ups. The push-up is a great stand-alone exercise that many say that can’t do very well if at all so they avoid it. It’s time to reconsider that thought.

Push-Ups Get No Respect.

While other bodyweight exercises like chin-ups and dips boast devoted fans from all corners of the fitness industry, the lowly push-up is likened as the spoiled step-child of the training world. Most women can’t do them and those that can, can’t do them correctly. Men seem to have an easier time with them but they’re not immune from head shaking either. Arms flare out; core sags; partial reps are performed. Why is an exercise so simple and effective performed so inconsistently if at all with both sexes? It doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

 Understanding the Push-Up

The push-up is as much a core strengthening exercise as it is an upper body exercise. The abdominal muscles are king when it comes to spinal stability during push-ups. The rectus abdominis is the primary stabilizer for preventing hip sagging, while the obliques do most of the work to prevent lateral shifting and twisting. Push-ups of course are also about arms and chest as well as the back. Hand position plays an important role. A narrow base push-up position significantly increases stress on the elbow joint, but also involves higher muscle activation in the triceps and pecs. Internally rotated hand positions were also shown to produce greater and potentially injurious forces on the elbow joints. Depending on your goal, you’ll want to do different push-up progressions.

Common Push-Up Errors

Ask 10 people to perform a push-up and you’ll likely see 10 different presentations but including some of these most common errors:

  • T-Set Up – hands are positioned high and wide
  • Caterpillar – hips sag and back is tilted
  • Stopping short – just as the name implies, not complete reps

In all three instances, there are distinct muscle weaknesses/imbalances that need to be addressed before push-ups can be safely completed. Most “egos” don’t allow or permit those things to be addressed so you have a bunch of people performing what they think are push-ups. There are literally hundreds of exercises you can do in the gym to build a healthier, stronger body, but sometimes the basics are the best. Of course, you don’t need to stop what you’re doing and start doing push-ups but perhaps it’s time to give the much-maligned push-up a second look.

See you tomorrow for Day 10 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – Weight Loss Once and For All
Day #2 – 10 Pieces of Equipment Everyone Needs to Work Out at Home
Day #3 – Are You Afraid of Eating Fruit?
Day #4 – Healthy Foods?
Day #5 – 21 Ways to Combat Emotional Eating
Day #6 – 8 Reasons Why Your Workout is Failing You
Day #7 – The Problem With Added Sugars
Day #8Dieting Made Simple

12 Days of Fitness 2018: Day 2 – 10 Pieces of Equipment Everyone Needs to Work Out at Home

(This is part 2 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

With the New Year quickly approaching, some of you may be thinking about your new workout routine and how to stay as consistent as possible to hit all your fitness goals. Perhaps you’re going to join a gym or start working towards that first 5K. But have you ever really considered training at home? For one, it’s incredibly convenient. Two, there’s no need to know how to use all of that equipment. Three, it’s your house, your rules. I could go on and on about the benefits of exercising in your own home but one thing is for sure, with the small purchase of a few essential and cheaply priced items, you’ll have more than you’ll ever need. And for one more, they’re also highly portable which means you can take them wherever you go.

  1. Stability Ball I can not say enough about the effectiveness of stability, or exercise balls. This item is first on the list for a reason. It acts as a serious core training device but can also be used as a bench/seat for a multitude of exercises. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MYSFUVZ/?ref=exp_loc_pl_jeffreysharrison
  2. Resistance Bands Resistance bands are an excellent way to get a full-body resistance workout in without ever touching a dumbbell. These bands address an important component of resistance training, the eccentric movement, and help make the possibilities of your workout endless.  https://www.performbetter.com/First-Place-All-Purpose-Exercise-Band
  3. Medicine Ball Medicine balls are a great mode of resistance for building core strength and coordination. There is a wide range of exercises that can be done with one and come in many varieties. (i.e. those that bounce) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00R3N0BDS/?ref=exp_loc_pl_jeffreysharrison
  4. Exercise Mat Exercise mats are absolutely essential to your home workout collection. The exercise mat allows you to do endless floor exercises comfortably and travel really well. https://www.performbetter.com/First-Place-Folding-Gym-Mat
  5. Jump Rope Simple and basic, the jump rope is great for conditioning and coordination, and can be an amazing tool for high-intensity interval training. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07881CYCK/?ref=exp_loc_pl_jeffreysharrison
  6. Kettlebell Kettlebells are unique and simply amazing. They are a great tool for functional exercise that combines strength and cardio. Kettlebells recruit more stabilizer muscles than dumbbells and barbells because of their off-centered weight. An absolute must-have for your home gym. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0061ZLTYY/?ref=exp_loc_pl_jeffreysharrison
  7. Foam Roller Foam Rollers are a great tool for self-myofascial release. The foam roller helps break down lactic acid, aids muscle soreness, increases flexibility and mobility, and helps you recover faster to get back to training. https://www.performbetter.com/search?keywords=foam%20roller
  8. Pull-Up Bar Pull-ups are the best exercise for building overall upper-body strength and quite possibly the hardest bodyweight exercise to build up to doing with no assistance. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Pure-Fitness-Multi-Purpose-Doorway-Pull-Up-Bar/26909661?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=0&adid=22222222227019597489&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=40331928872&wl4=pla-78294396392&wl5=9007392&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=online&wl12=26909661&wl13=&veh=sem&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI18K9tJPu3gIVE-DICh2X0QzGEAQYASABEgK72vD_BwE
  9. Dumbbells The quintessential piece of resistance, dumbbells provide a much greater workout let alone selection of possibilities than any barbell. https://www.performbetter.com/First-Place-Rubber-Encased-Hex-Dumbbells
  10. Ab Roller Wheel Quite possibly the best method of training the abdominals. There are many spin offs or alternative options but don’t be fooled. This one is the best. https://www.performbetter.com/Exercise-Wheel

BONUS: 11. Weighted Vest

I’d feel odd if I didn’t throw the weighted vest on this list as an honorable mention. The weighted vest isn’t for everyone, but those looking to add hands-free resistance and a lot of difficulty to their workouts will enjoy this. https://www.performbetter.com/Uni-Vest-Weight-Vest

See you tomorrow for Day 3 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – Weight Loss Once and For All

 

All About the Sweat

Sweat. It’s wet; it’s gross; it gets everywhere. If you truly exercise at all, you will experience it. And if you don’t, there are a few factors as to why. Avoidance of sweat is not always a good strategy while sweating profusely is not either. Let’s get a better understanding of this natural mechanism and appreciate it for what it is.

Why You Sweat

Sweating is the body’s natural process to cool itself down. Sweat can be caused by an emotional response such as anxiety, an illness or physical exertion. When you exert yourself during exercise, your body’s core temperature begins to rise, and this is detected by temperature sensors throughout your body. Your central nervous system—specifically an area of your brain called the hypothalamus—processes this information and signals over two million sweat glands to release (water) sweat. Sweat is mostly water, but it also contains sodium and other minerals. It works by way of evaporation when it reaches the surface of your skin. The water exchanges heat from your skin for the cooler temperature of the air. The blood that runs under your skin is cooled and pumped to the core of your body, helping you maintain an ideal body temperature of 97.9 to 99.1 degrees. To further understand how the process works, think back to a time when you had a fever. During a fever, your body temperature spikes above normal levels. Once the fever breaks, your central nervous system wants to return your body to its normal temperature as quickly as possible. The result is a period of profuse sweating. Just like the harder you work during exercise, the more you will sweat, giving your body a greater cooling effect. Humidity also plays a role in sweating. Humid air is saturated with water, making it harder for sweat to evaporate into the air. This causes the body to release more sweat. At a certain point, your body might not be able to cool itself, resulting in heat-related illness.

Why Do I Sweat More Than Others?

Some people sweat more than others. To many people, sweat is a sign that they’re out of shape, but that is not always the case. People who carry around extra weight most likely sweat more than others. They have to work harder to complete a task than those who don’t carry extra weight, causing their body temperature to rise more. That said, plenty of people are heavy sweaters. As you improve your conditioning, your body becomes more efficient and is better able to regulate its body temperature. When you consistently train, you might notice that you begin sweating more quickly and intensely. This is not because you’re out of shape but because your body has become a more efficient at cooling itself down. Finally, there is the genetic factor. Some people are simply heavier sweaters than others just as there are those who sweat minimally if at all. But let me remind you, sweat is a natural method of your body cooling itself off. To not sweat is not a trait to aspire to have.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

Understanding Sets and Reps

Numbers. They’re such a part of our lives and all have different values and significance. When it comes to exercise, more specifically weight training, numbers can become one of the defining differences between accomplishing a goal or missing it completely. Take for example sets and reps. Most will exercise with a number(s) in mind but do they truly know what they represent and are they using them according to their goals? Let’s take a deeper look.

The Obvious

Repetitions, or reps, are simply the number of times you perform an exercise. For example, in weight training when you do a bicep curl for 10 reps, you’re lifting the weight 10 times. Sets are simply a group of reps. The ultimate goal with sets and reps is to stimulate a change, whether it be to increase strength, muscle growth, power, or endurance. It’s important to note that all four desired outcomes require different stimuli and no one set of reps are going to take care of all four. So what scheme is one to use to maximize their workout goals?

Start at the Beginning

It’s become more cliché but no exercise plan should ever start without a goal. Too many “go through the motions” and then blame exercise not working for them. They come up with generalized goals like wanting to lose weight or increase muscle size but have no real specific approach to how they’re going to get there. When deciding on sets and reps schemes, a goal must be clearly defined. Following are some specific guidelines on where to start:

Training for Strength. When your goal is to increase strength, you need to lift heavier weights for fewer reps. For example, those with a strength goal might use five sets of five repetitions. With the relatively higher loads for these reps and sets, you will want to take longer rest periods (1-3 minutes). The neuromuscular system responds to heavyweights by increasing your ability to lift those heavy loads.
Training for Muscle Hypertrophy. A typical approach to reps and sets for those looking to build muscle (the main goal of bodybuilders) might be three sets of eight to 12 reps, at loads that reach failure point (or near) on the last few repetitions. Muscle requires metabolic stress to increase in size. This means working the muscle to the point where lactate builds and muscle suffers internal damage. Size increases occur when you rest, eat appropriately and the muscle repairs, growing larger in the process. This sort of training requires a higher number of repetitions in each set in order to stimulate that breaking point, sometimes called “training to failure.”
Training for Power. “Power” is the ability to move an object at a high speed. In other words, force equals mass times acceleration. Power training requires practicing the acceleration part of a lift, then resting and repeating. In power training, you lift moderately heavy weights, accentuate the concentric first movement of the exercise, then rest sufficiently to recover before doing that rep or set again. Training sessions include six or fewer repetitions for a higher number of sets, about 10 to 12. The goal here would be to get better and stronger at these particular movements, and also increase the weight used in the exercises.
Training for Endurance. Endurance weight training requires more repetitions in each set, perhaps up to 20 or 30, with lighter weights. You may want to consider why you’d set this as your goal. What is the day-to-day function that requires muscular endurance? For example, a runner might want more endurance in their legs or a swimmer in their arms.

But of course most will begin with a basic fitness program that looks to target both strength and muscle building. When deciding on reps and sets, somewhere in the range eight to 15 repetitions for two to four sets will help you accomplish both. Choosing eight to 12 exercises is also a good idea, as is making sure to hit your lower and upper body, and your core. At this stage, don’t lift too heavy or too light (you should feel fatigued by the last rep, but it shouldn’t be overly difficult) to ensure a good foundation before trying more goal-specific workouts.

Making Sense of it All

Bottom line. Exercise is meant to cause a stress; a physical stress to cause change. The bigger the stress, the better the result. Manipulating the sets and reps that you use (a concept known as periodization) is the best bet with creating consistent gains and decreased boredom. Other concepts such as rest periods and tempo of lifting are for a different discussion but even manipulation of those two variables are of importance. The most important key as with any exercise program is to stay safe and injury free. Even light weights at low reps can be hazardous. Sets and reps are merely a guide to help you along the way.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

When To Push, When Not To Push

Exercise is good! There is no doubt to that statement. Can one do too much? Absolutely! In times when one is feeling too good or just being stupid, too much exercise can and will become counterproductive to the original course. But how much is too much and what about all this rhetoric about pushing it to the limits? Do you need to always keep the pedal to the metal so to speak when it comes to exercise or is there a happy medium?

When To Push

In my many years of being a fitness professional, I’m convinced that many have no idea what it means to increase their exercise intensity let alone understand what that means. In simple terms, intensity is simply a term used to describe how hard you’re working. It can be measured subjectively (“Man that kicked my ass!”) to being measured objectively (heart rate, time of rest periods, watts, etc.). What matters most about intensity is that if you’re someone who exercises regularly expecting some sort of result, you need to have an objective measure of intensity. Whether it’s for health reasons, aesthetics, or performance, at some point you have to push beyond the “comfort zone”, a term used to describe where most find solace in their exercise routine. The issue with “comfort zones” is that nothing happens there. The individual who exercises by just going through the motions falls into this category. Some would say something is better than nothing and while that is only mildly true, most who exercise do have a goal or agenda that will yield something. Going through the motions and not pushing a little more effort is going to yield zero to minimal results. So how much do you push and when do you do it? First, establish a goal. Why do you exercise? Next, establish what it is you wish to accomplish through exercise. Be leaner? Decrease blood pressure? Be stronger? Run faster? Third, determine that your exercise needs are met by the exercises you choose to engage. Once you have established all three, then you can look at how to push and increase your intensity. Maybe it’s five more minutes on the treadmill at a slightly higher speed. Or it’s an increase in reps of a strength training exercise. Or it’s a decrease in time with more work being done. There are simply thousands of ways to push it but it has to be objective and measurable. Then you can truly track and see progress.

When Not To Push

Aside from the obvious, exercising through pain is never a good thing. Pain is your body’s signal that something’s not quite right. But I will also warn you that muscle soreness and pain are not one in the same. How do you know? Well, experience will tell you a lot but most times the complete range of motion of a muscle is not completely inhibited. Being sick is also a good sign to not push it as not all sicknesses require a cessation in an exercise program. There are going to be days that are harder than others and that’s to be expected. Listening to your body is a skill that gets perfected over time – knowing when to take it easy or a day off. When you start to think of every little thing to “skip” or “delay” a workout, chances are good that although the intentions were good initially, they quickly became lost and excuse making becomes the norm. Exercise is a stress; a stress that evolves and adapts. If you don’t evolve, the impact, the positive effect of exercise, becomes lost.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

12 Days of Fitness 2017: Day 10 – 10 Weight Room Mistakes

(This is part 10 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

The weight room doesn’t have to be your nemesis. A well-structured strength and conditioning plan can help anyone, male or female, build strength, power, endurance and durability that will pay massive dividends. But a handful of costly weight room mistakes can sabotage your efforts. Here’s a list of 10 common mistakes I see many people make while training.

  1. Skipping a Warm-Up

One of the most costly mistakes often happens as soon as you walk into the gym. If you skip your warm-up, you miss out on an opportunity to improve mobility and flexibility, and you increase your chance of injury. A proper warm-up should:

  • Raise the body’s core temperature
  • Mobilize and stabilize joints such the hips, shoulders and ankles
  • Preview movement patterns you will use in your workout (e.g., Squats, Lunges, etc.)

Don’t be the guy or gal who does a few arm swings and toe touches and thinks you’re ready to go. Do yourself a favor and take 3 to 5 minutes to perform a thorough warm-up. That means foam rolling, mobility drills and a few light sets of your first strength exercise to get your body ready.

  1. Performing Too Many Isolation Exercises

Life requires fluid, full-body movements. So why on earth would you spend time in the gym working one body part at a time? Instead, pick multi-joint strength movements like Squats, Deadlifts and Push-ups, along with powerful exercises like Jumps, Sprints and Throws. In fact, put them together to build unparalleled explosiveness with post-activation potentiation.

  1. Never Deloading

Many “meat heads” pride themselves on pushing to the brink of exhaustion, but always teetering on that line can halt your progress. Every once in awhile, you need to take a step back to take two steps forward. Deloading is a planned training period during which you don’t work quite as hard, thus allowing your body and mind to recover so you can keep getting stronger. If you’re training hard at least four days per week, you should take a week-long deload every four to eight weeks to recharge your batteries.

  1. Training to Failure Too Often

Your workouts should build you up, not break you down. There’s no faster way to leave yourself feeling broken down than training to failure too often. Luckily, you don’t have to train to failure at all to get bigger and stronger. As a general guideline, always leave one or two good reps in the tank at the end of each set. You’ll recover faster and still make progress. A surefire way to avoid training to failure is to pick the right number of sets and reps for each exercise. Big, heavy exercises like Squats and Deadlifts lend themselves to fewer reps and more sets, while lighter exercises like Push-Ups and Pull-Ups work best with more reps and fewer sets.

  1. Wearing Improper Footwear

Did you know that what you wear on your feet can have a huge impact on how you move? Your workout footwear can greatly enhance—or reduce—the effectiveness of your exercises. For example, wearing running shoes to Squat or Deadlift is a common mistake. The soles of running shoes are cushioned to reduce impact while jogging. But when you’re lifting a heavy barbell, you want a solid heel so you can produce force into the ground. The squishy soles of a running shoe reduce stability and limit how well your legs produce force. Instead, opt for a flat-soled shoe or a heel-elevated shoe with a hard sole.

  1. Sacrificing Form for Weight on the Bar

As fun as it is to throw around heavy weight, you need to remember that it nots how much you lift, but how you lift it. Lifting heavy weight is one of the fastest and most effective ways to become stronger, but never at the expense of proper form. If you get hurt in the gym, all your efforts were for nothing. Be sure to take the time to master the technique before loading  exercises with heavy weight. Train under the guidance of a certified coach or trainer whenever possible, and use spotters when appropriate.

  1. Doing Too Much Cardio

Cardiovascular endurance is certainly important but doing a whole bunch of cardio just to do cardio isn’t going to cut it. Always know and understand the “why’s” to your workouts, not the blind allegiance to a particular method.

  1. Not Doing Enough Cardio

On the other hand, doing no cardio at all is a bad idea. Even though most of us need strength and power more than we need endurance, it’s a costly mistake to ignore aerobic conditioning entirely. That’s because all recovery is aerobic in nature. Your oxidative energy system is responsible for regenerating ATP, the body’s main energy source. Intense exercise requires lots of ATP, and if your oxidative system is poorly developed, you’ll take a long time to recover.

  1. Neglecting Unilateral Exercises

Big lifts like the squat and bench press are fantastic strength movements, but make sure you follow them up with unilateral exercises like lunges and rows to reflect the one-sided nature of life.

  1. Not Putting Your Phone Away

A lack of focus will derail anyone’s workout, and nothing does that faster than a smartphone. When you walk through the gym doors, your only priority for the next 60 to 90 minutes should be about getting better. Nothing on Facebook or Instagram will help you lift more weight or get more explosive. To avoid distractions, use a notebook instead of your phone to track your workouts. If you use your phone to listen to music, arrange a playlist ahead of time so you’re not fidgeting with your phone mid-workout to find a song you like.

See you tomorrow for Day 11 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – Top 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Exercise
Day #2 – The Dangers of Dieting
Day #3 – The New Rules to Strength Training
Day #4 – How to Stay in Shape When You’re Busy
Day #5 – How Natural is “Natural Flavoring”?
Day #6 – Understanding Food and Nutrition Labels
Day #7 –  Minimalist Fitness
Day #8 – 7 Common Myths About Fat Loss
Day #9 – The Food Pyramid: The Demise of the American Diet

 

 

12 Days of Fitness 2016: Day 3 – 10 Fitness Fibs You Tell Yourself

(This is Part 3 of a 12 part series to provide you with some useful health and fitness info over the holiday season)

The world is rife with bad and misleading information, none of which is more evident than when it comes to health and fitness, particularly exercise. “Experts” spew this bad information and the internet makes it painfully easy to become a believer in all this nonsense. The result is a legion of exercisers who regurgitate this bad information to the point where they believe it to be gospel. It’s time to stop some of this madness.

  1. “I know how hard I’m working by how much I sweat.” Sweat is a natural body function to cooling the body from rising body temperatures. This can be caused by exercising; it can also be caused by sitting in a heated room; a state of nervousness, etc. People differ in their ability to sweat but it has no correlation with the effectiveness or intensity of the exercise.
  2. “The more I work out, the faster I’ll see results.” You can exercise all you want, but if you fail to pay attention or give as much credit to nutrition as you do exercise, it’s an endless battle. You can’t out exercise a so-so approach to nutrition and simply working harder, longer, or faster can have some serious negative consequences.
  3. “I’ll only do cardio because I need to lose a lot of weight.” It shouldn’t be a shock that the leanest (not thinnest) bodies in the gym are found in the weight room but for too many people it’s still a hard pill to swallow. Cardio is not the best way to leanness (dropping body fat); resistance training and nutritional control is.
  4. “I’ll start working out as soon as I lose this weight.” Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? While weight loss should never be the primary reason you start working out, no time is better than the present to start making better, smarter choices, one that should include regular exercise.
  5. “I can eat whatever I want because I work out.” Exercise is not a permit to eat more food. Yes, depending on your goal (i.e. bodybuilding, endurance event, etc.) you may need to “beef up” your caloric intake to compliment your training but chances are as a recreational exerciser you don’t burn nearly enough calories working out to create a necessity for more fuel.
  6. “If I’m not sore the day after my workout, I didn’t train hard enough.” Muscle soreness is not dependent on the success of a workout session. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the result of either one or more of the following: new muscles movement/group used; new muscle fiber type used; increased resistance/load pattern; poor nutrition recovery habits; sickness. If soreness is how you base your workout success, you need to rethink your methods.
  7. “Even though I’m still hurting, I’ll work through the pain.” There’s smarts and then there’s common sense. Pain is never a good thing. It’s the body’s mechanism for warning you that: 1) something’s not right and 2) a natural healing process has begun. Listen to your body. Working through pain only prolongs recovery time or worse, leads to bigger issues.
  8. “I’m doing “X” crunches a day to flatten my abs.” The only reason this one still exists is because like dieting, a whole industry is built on misleading you for continued profit. Here again is all you need to know – everyone has a six pack; everyone’s abdominal muscles are flat; the two reasons people will see or obtain a “flat” stomach are genetics and the layer of body fat between the skin and the muscle wall. And sit ups no matter how many numbers you do will change that.
  9. “I like to jump right back into my work out after taking time off.” The biggest mistake many people will make come January is an absurd assumption that they can pick up from where they left off with their exercises program. Whether it’s a few weeks, months, or years, you have got to give your body time to acclimate from going from nothing to increased physical activity.
  10. “I stick with weight machines because they are safer.” There is a risk of injury no matter what you do when it comes to exercise. If you chose an option because you like it, that’s one thing. Do not let fear of the unknown dictate your exercise selection. You may be selling yourself short.

See you tomorrow for Day 4 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better

 

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day 1 – Why Not Eating Enough Won’t Help You Lose Weight
Day 2 – 5 Ways You’re Self-Sabotaging Your Workouts

12 Days of Fitness 2016: Day 2 – 5 Ways You’re Self-Sabotaging Your Workouts

(This is Part 2 of a 12 part series to provide you with some useful health and fitness info over the holiday season)

Fitness is my business and nothing can be more frustrating than witnessing those who actually make the time to exercise but are wasting their time in their approach. Simply showing up and going through the motions doesn’t count let alone is not very effective. If you can make the time, make the most of your time. Exercise in whatever form is only as good as the effort and consistency you put forth. Here are some of the most common mistakes I have seen throughout the years in the hopes that I can create awareness if you are guilty of them yourself.

  1. Swinging Weights. This is a very common mistake, often caused by lifting weights that are too heavy. The endless benefits of resistance training can only be achieved if you’re controlling your movements. Whatever exercise you’re doing, be sure to control each motion of the exercise in order to maximize results. Control is key as is injury prevention.
  1. Holding on the Treadmill. Cardio is an excellent form of exercise but most are missing out on the majority of the calorie burn. The treadmill is one of the most popular pieces of cardio equipment but when you grip on to the sidebars of the treadmill, you’re sacrificing your calorie burn. Instead, either swing your arms as you go or if you need a grip to maintain your balance just make sure it’s a very light one.
  1. Too Much Waiting Around. In this era of smartphones, too much time is wasted checking messages or status updates – or by checking one’s self in the mirror. Socializing is one thing but the more time you spend between exercises the more you’re allowing your heart rate to return to normal. Keeping your heart rate elevated during a workout is essential to burning the most calories and/or building muscle. So get at it and stay at it.
  1. Stretching in Between Exercises/Sets. Stretching is an important component of any fitness routine to increase muscle recovery, prevent injury, and decrease soreness. However, when you stretch in between exercises you are hampering their ability to perform their best with the next exercise/set. Studies have proven stretching in between may actually decrease the amount of weight you are able to lift and weaken the stability of joints.
  1. Virtual Insanity. Most gyms/health clubs don’t need clocks, or calendars for that matter because you can always tell the time of day/day of week by what you’re witnessing. Doing the same exercises in the same way is not going to yield any different results. Muscles need to evolve whatever the goal; doing the same thing all the time will yield the same result – zero!

See you tomorrow for Day 3 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day 1 – Why Not Eating Enough Won’t Help You Lose Weight