Thursday, December 24, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
1. Spot Reduction Myth - I would say that one of the most common statements I hear in the gym is, “I want to get six pack abs. What’s the best exercise to do so?” The truth is that spot reduction training has never worked and never will. Muscle and fat are two separate tissues. You can’t strengthen one to remove the other. It would be the equivalent of saying, “I am going to make my biceps stronger by doing calf raises.” Better visibility of the abdominal musculature requires bodyfat reduction. The only way to lose this bodyfat is to burn more calories than you take in. This is called the law of thermogenesis. Basically, this law states that calories are a unit of energy and fat is the storage form of that energy. So, you must be at a caloric deficit to shed those extra pounds around the midsection. The bottom line is, eat less and move more. I recently attended a conference that had many of the top trainers in the field presenting, and one of them commented that he was recently asked which exercise is best for the abs. He replied, “Table pushaways!” So, as it turns out, instead of doing a million crunches after your workout, you may be best suited doing some high intensity interval training on the treadmill.
2. Women Get “Bulky” By Lifting Weights - This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Women get “bulky” by eating too much, not by lifting too much. Matter fact, resistance training has been shown time and again to aid in weight loss by increasing the resting metabolic rate. Check this out. This means by including resistance training (mainly circuit and interval training) in your routine, you will burn more calories just by existing. Simply put, women do not have the amount of testosterone and growth hormone required to get “bulky”. Those freakish women who look like men are “supplementing” their testosterone levels.
4. You can Lose Weight By Diet Alone – Nope again. When losing weight by diet alone, up to 40% of the weight lost can be lean body mass (muscle and bone). Check this out. So, for weight loss, you should use a combination of exercise AND diet.
6. Resistance Training Will Stunt a Kids Growth – False. Eric Cressey wrote a great article about it here.
You have to get fatter to get stronger? Mariusz beggs to differ.
Well, there you have it ten myths exposed. Are these the only myths? Nope. I'm sure more will come about soon enough.
Thanks for reading.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
I’m going to preface this post with the fact that I am a personal trainer. Not a physician. This post is based on the scientific research and observations that I have personally done. I encourage everyone reading to consult with their physician before starting an exercise program.
First, I’ll start off by explaining what congestive heart failure is. Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition where the heart fails to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. This usually will result in a condition known as cardio myopathy (enlargement of the heart). Basically, what happens is the heart is unable to pump out all of the blood that enters it, causing it to swell.
Here is a picture of what a normal heart looks like compared to an enlarged one:
There are six main causes of CHF. They are:
Ischemic Heart Disease 62%
Cigarette Smoking 16%
Valvular Heart Disease 2%
*It should also be noted that smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are all major causes of Ischemic Heart Disease.
The old school of thought was that a person with CHF would be doomed to spend the rest of their time bed ridden. Now we know that is not the case. Exercise has been shown to not only increase quality of life, but also quantity of life in individuals with CHF. Further more, it has been shown that adding resistance training to a patients rehab protocol very beneficial in helping to increase their quality of life. For more research on resistance training and CHF, click here:
It is very important that the CHF patient seek out professional advice when it comes to their exercise programming. Here is one thing to keep in mind, currently; there are no requirements to determine who can be a personal trainer, and who cannot. Any Joe Schmoe can buy a weight set and call themselves a personal trainer. So, it is very important that the patient do some research and make sure that his or her trainer is qualified to write their program. Here are some certifications to look for:
National Strength and Conditioning Association – CSCS or CPT
American College of Sports Medicine - HFI
National Academy of Sports Medicine – NASM – CPT
Thanks for reading!
Friday, November 20, 2009
1. Misuse of the word “Tone” – Muscle tone does not have anything to do with the way a muscle looks. Muscle tone is the amount of tension that is on a muscle at rest. Again tone does not equal definition. Losing fat does! So, the next time your trainer tells you that they can “tone you up!” Fire them.
2. Household Cats – Seriously….I hate them. Don’t get me wrong, the lions and tigers that chase wildebeests across the plains of Africa are awesome. It’s just the ones here in America that poop in boxes aren’t so awesome.
3. Stupid Comments – I recently had someone tell me that “weight lifting” was bad for me and was going to cause damage to my joints. Keep in mind this person had a protracted shoulder girdle, posterior pelvic tilt, and a waist measurement of well over 40 inches. I have two responses to that. Lifting weights doesn’t injure people, lifting weights WRONG does. And, I’d rather go see the orthopedic surgeon than the cardiologist.
^^This Guy Says I'm Gonna Hurt Myself^^
4. “Ab” Exercises – Most people wake up in the morning sit all the way to work and then sit all day at work. They spend most of their time with the hips and torso in the flexed position. So, why do all these trainers and infomercials continue to make their customers do more sit ups and crunches? The primary function of the obliques, rectus abdominus, and transverse abdominus is to absorb force and stabilize the lumbar spine. Not to bring the rib cage closer to the pelvis. We already do plenty of that anyways. So, hear’s some things not to buy:
Here's What to do:
Thanks Mr Cressey, and thanks to everyone for reading. I'm sure there are a lot of other things I could put on this list, but I'm ready to get my weekend started!
Friday, November 13, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Found this article online and thought it was great.
Things That Are Good For You
By Dan John
Everybody knows that certain things are “good for you.” In fact, I am usually amazed at the lists that people can spout off in just a moment or two without really thinking about it. Like my quick list:
- Don’t smoke
- Wear a seatbelt
- Floss daily
- Eat veggies
- Get eight hours of sleep.
This is not a bad list and, to be honest, follow that short set of five and you will do well to insure a healthy life. Those of us who lift weights usually have a short list of movements that are “good for you.” Yet, whenever I enter “FastFitness 24/7 Spa and Supplement Superstore,” most of the guys are doing Bench Presses, Curls and Lat Pulldowns. Yet, if I sit around with strength coaches, fitness professionals or people that bring fear to the heart of mere mortals, they rarely do those three movements.
So, what are the “Big Five” that most people recommend? You won’t like the list:
- Good Morning
- Bent Over Row
Why am I sure you won’t like this list? Simply, because I never see the average gym rat doing any of these movements! Or, and this can simply be sad…if I do see people “squatting” in most gyms, frankly, my dear, those aren’t squats! These movements require a bit of introduction for the body and need usually a few days of orientation to get right. But, wait, what’s that last one?
Planks? Yes, Planks. Recently, at a workshop, a guy kept asking me about lunges. “Do your athletes do lunges?” No. “Do you do lunges?” No. Finally, he asked the real questions: “Why don’t you guys (strength coaches) hate lunges? Okay, he had me. Like planks, lunges are “one of those exercises.” You know, the kind that Jane Fonda does. The kind of exercise that you see the manic aerobics instructors screaming “go for the burn” and “feels good, alright” doing with a roomful of mirrors and a disco ball. Then, in the quite of the night, you try them and fail. And the last thing we want to do in a gym is to, one, look like an idiot, and, two, perform poorly looking like an idiot. Planks are the worst kind of exercise…they are miserable and just don’t look that hard!
So, let’s make a goal: one, let’s not look like idiots, and, two, let’s perform these lifts well.
Let’s start with the bane of most lifters life in the gym: squats. Years ago at a clinic, a young man told me “squats hurt my knees.” I asked him to demonstrate a squat. I said simply, “Squats don’t hurt your knees, what YOU are doing hurts your knees.” Squats can do more for total mass and body strength than probably all other lifts combined. Doing them wrong can do more damage than probably all the other moves, too.
Let’s start simple. Find a place where no one is watching and squat down. At the “bottom,” the deepest you can go, push your knees out with your elbows. Relax…and go a bit deeper. Your feet should be flat on the floor. For the bulk of the population, this small movement…driving your knees out with your elbows will simplify squatting forever.
Next, try this little drill: I have the athlete stand arms length from a door knob. Grab the handle with both hands and get your chest "up." Up? I have the athlete imagine being on a California beach when a swimsuit model walks by. Immediately, the athlete puffs up the chest which tightens the lower back and locks the whole upper body. The lats naturally spread a bit and the shoulders come back "a little." Now, lower yourself down. What people discover at this moment is a basic physiological fact: the legs are NOT stuck like stilts under the torso. Rather, the torso is slung between the legs. As you go down, leaning back with arms straight, you will discover one of the true keys of lifting: you squat “between your legs.” You do not fold and unfold like an accordion; you sink between your legs. Don’t just sit and read this: do it!
Now, you are ready to learn the single best lifting movement of all time: the Goblet Squat. Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell and hold it against your chest. With a kbell, hold the horns, but with a dumbbell just hold it vertical by the one end…like you are holding a Goblet against your chest. (You see…Goblet Squats). Now with the weight cradled against your chest, squat down with the goal of having your elbows (pointed down because you are cradling the bell) slide past the inside of your knees. It is okay to have the elbows push the knees out as you descend.
There is the million dollar key to learning movements in the gym….let the BODY teach the body what to do. Listen to this: try to stay out of it! Thinking through a movement often leads to problems…let the elbows glide down by touching the inner knees and good things will happen. The more an athlete thinks, the more the athlete can find ways to screw things up. Don’t believe me? Shoot a one and one with three seconds to go down by two points…get back to me later when you decided “thinking” was a good idea.
I’m not sure I should tell you this, but I think Goblet Squats is all the squatting that most people need. If the bar hurts you in Back Squats (I won’t comment), your wrists hurt in Front Squat (swallowing my tongue here) and the aerobics instructor has banned you from using the step boxes for your one legged variations, try the Goblet Squat. Seriously, once you grab a bell over 100 pounds and do a few sets of ten in the GS, you might wonder how the toilet got so low the next morning.
Let’s just keep that dumbbell at hand for just a minute. The biggest problem I see with most people’s Deadlift is that they simply have forgotten how to pick things up off the floor. I have been told to “not use my back” when picking things up. That’s like saying “don’t use your tongue” when talking. You know…you can do it…but it is just not very efficient.
Stand tall and hold the one end of the dumbbell again…this time, though, hold it at arm’s length pointing straight down to the ground. The bell should be slung right between your legs. These are called “Potato Sack Squats” and it is a great reminder of how to Deadlift. Imagine picking up a Potato Sack from the floor…you want to get down and get your arms around it. Let the bell descend to a point between your feet. Keep your head up and chest proud and simply lower the bell touch and return.
Now, why don’t you Deadlift like that? It’s the Deadlift…the world’s simplest lift! Well, grandma’s voice is probably in your head yelling “don’t use your back.” To move on, step on two boxes or even thick 45 pound plates. Descend down again and touch the ground between the two boxes. That is as far as you will probably ever need to go.
Now, always make sure when you Deadlift to use 45 pound plates…or plates that leave the bar at the same height as a 45. I have my young athletes do a set of ten Potato Sack Squats, then step over to the bar and try to get the same feel of descending to the bar. After that, it is pretty simple. A couple of key hints:
- Keep the weight on the heels. To test this, slide ten pound plates under your toes until the balls of your feet are on the plates. It is going to stress your hammies and gastrocs (hey, free stretch!) but push the ground away through your heels. I insist on teaching my athletes to “Push your heels to China.” It seems the Chinese National Coach is now teaching his athletes to push their heels back to me. I am worried about deforming the earth.
- Use the standard “opposite hands” grip from Day One in the Deadlift. I do suggest, though, that you switch your grip often until you find which way allows the most weight.
- Your arms are steel rods in the Deadlift. Lock ‘em out and leave ‘em.
- Keep your head up. Many of my athletes upped their Deadlift in one workout by having the chin lead to the ceiling. When ten people tell me something worked in one day…I believe them.
Most people who do the Good Morning doom themselves to a lifetime of bad mornings. A few months ago at the after party of a strength clinic…imagine something like the after party of a big movie opening, but eliminate free food, free booze, and good looking guys…a buddy asked me about Good Mornings. According to the story, I said: “I can do Good Mornings, you can do Good Mornings, but that fat dude over there in his overflowing sweatshirt and fanny pack, he can’t do Good Mornings.”
So, what’s the big deal? You toss a barbell on your back and lean forward. Besides the chiropractor industry applauding, what’s so wrong with this picture? First, know what we are trying to do here: I teach GMs as a hamstring move, not a lower back builder. Why? It’s simple, really, I want my athletes to walk next week. So, before you begin…two things.
First, stand up and place your hands in the “V” that is formed where your torso meets your legs. You know what I am talking about…
Simply push your hands into the V and push up butt back as your hands “disappear” into the folds. That is the movement of a Good Morning. Yes, keep your head up, shoulder blades pinched back, and hold a big chest, but the movement is simply “increasing the V.” If you do it right…even with no weight…you will feel the hamstrings stretching. This is good.
I strongly suggest learning the movement with a broomstick first. A nice little adjustment is to stand with your back against the wall and push your butt BACK into the wall. Then, scoot out a few inches and push back again. Keep moving away until you literally can’t touch the wall any more. THAT is the position that I recommend you go into on the Good Morning.
Do not make this a Yoga exercise. There is no need, beyond my need to laugh at you, for you to fall on your face. Don’t make this a stretching contest and try to go as deep forward as possible. Make it a lift. Surprise me with you ability to do it right.
Bent Over Rows
Stop right there. Yes, I know. I know that some guy named Arnold once said that Pullups are the greatest exercise for the lats, but you need Rows for thickness. I know. I know.
Here is an idea…let’s do them right.
Before you go any further with Rows, I want you to do a few sets of “Bat Wings.” Yes, I invented them…just after I invented the internet. Lay face down on a standard bench with two dumbbells on the floor. Now, here is where it gets confusing…I don’t care at all about your range of movement. I only want you to pull about the last four issues of flexion. If you were doing pushups, it would be from the floor to about four inches off the ground. All I want you to do is squeeze those bells as high as you can and cram your shoulder blades together. You can’t jump, bounce, swing, hop or do any of that crazy stuff that most guys rowing do. Do a bunch of sets of five.
The next day, that really cramped feeling muscle in your upper back is called the Rhomboids. Oh, and you’re welcome. You see, the development of the Rhomboids will save your shoulders, make you stand taller and lead you to a life of wisdom and wealth. Maybe.
Oh, why Bat Wings? It sorta kinda looks like Bat Wings at the top of the squeeze. If you look carefully…from the side. Sorta.
Now, back to Bent Over Rows: one of the things missing from those guys with twelve plates on the side doing wide grip bouncing leap shrugs that they call “Bent Over Rows” is any work for the Rhomboids. They will also soon be missing discs, but that is another story.
When you Row, get into that Good Morning “V” Position and strive to touch the chest. Ignore the part where you have long arms and focus on the last four inches “at the top.” A great Rowing exercise is “Two Part Rows.” Rep One comes up to the belly button and Rep Two comes up to the nipples. Really strive to feel how much more your elbows have to come up to make the lift.
I suggest doing Bat Wings at least every time you do a horizontal push like Bench Presses or Incline Bench Presses. And when you row, row. Finish the stroke!
Like most people, I hate Planks. It was Joshua Hillis who got me to start doing them and I discovered a funny thing. I hate planks.
Why? Well, there you are shaking from stem to stern doing nothing but holding a position. It is very hard to look calm and collected while shaking. So, let’s make it harder!
I have one simple drill to assess all kinds of issues with my athletes. It is a one minute plank done as follows:
The first twenty seconds, the right leg is raised as high as it can be raised towards the ceiling…an Arabesque right leg, if you will. Without leaving the plank position, do the next twenty seconds with the left leg Arabesque position. Finally, do twenty seconds of the plank. This is how to increase your life: that minute will feel like forever.
So, how do we assess what happened? Many of my athletes who have done far too many Bench Presses and hard baseball throws complain that the planks hurt their armpits. For these athletes, we need Bent Over Rows and Bat Wings. Lots of Bat Wings. If the athlete flops on to the ground and maniacally begins stretching the hamstrings or complains about hamstring cramping, I know that the Goblet Squat and maybe the Deadlift are needed for repairing the Posterior Chain…especially a thing called “Sleepy Butt Syndrome.” (Wake up your Glutes!) These athletes probably should be doing light Good Mornings every day as well as a daily light dose of Goblet Squats. If we just have a shaking torso and screaming in the last ten seconds, well, that’s easy: include planks as part of you workouts, usually after you do anything heavy.
The last issue with planks is simply an observation from my experience, but it is worth considering. I had some athletes complain about cramping calves on planks and I just couldn’t get my mind around it. In our discussions, it always seemed like the cramping calves were also the same athletes who were missing little things like meals, sensible diet practices, supplements, recovery aids and an understanding that nutrition may have some value for the athlete. Hence, the conclusion: my athletes who get calf cramps are missing something in their diet. Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, one or two smart meal choices and a multi-mineral supplement and the problem vanishes. This isn’t science, but experience has some value.
These five lifts, the Squat, the Deadlift, the Good Morning, the Bent Over Row, and the Plank, develop the parts of the body that will instantly impact your game on the court, pitch or field. These five lifts will transform your body. These five lifts are hard and take a few weeks to master.
Which is why you rarely see people do these five lifts…
For more info on Dan John, go to http://www.danjohn.org
Monday, November 2, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Can't we do better?
1. Weight loss is hard. Most people tend to look for the easy way out, and when it gets tough, they quit. Losing weight may very well be the toughest thing many people will do, but it is also the most rewarding.
2. People eat way to much. A Monster Thickburger at Hardee's has over 1400 calories and more that 100 grams of fat. The average female gains weight on 1800 calories and the average male gains weight with 2200 calories. You do the math.
This is why you're fat
3. People don't move enough. The more technologically advanced our society becomes, the more sedintary it becomes.
4. Too many experts. You cannot turn on the television during the day, without seeing at least three ads like this:
So, my simple advise on how to lose the weight:
A. Stop watching the TV
B. Start exercising more
C. Stop eating so much
Thanks for reading and have a great halloween!
Friday, October 23, 2009
His reasoning is that, in squating, the weakest link in the kinetic chain is the lower back. He states that to better work the legs, you must switch to single leg supported squats. By switching to single leg supported squats, it takes the entire core out of the picture.
I agree with MOST of what Coach Boyle puts out. However, I think he is being a little extreme here. Here is my take on the subject:
I think that single leg movements are a very essential part of every well rounded strength training program. I personally incorporate multi - planer lunges and step ups in every program I write. However, I WILL NOT remove the conventional squat and other types of squats from my programs.
The reason for this is simple. As strength coaches and trainers, it is our responsibility to get the athlete or client to transfer as much force as possible from the ground up. His example is a freshman who did a single leg supported squat (SLSS) with 115 pounds for 15 reps. His argument was that since the athlete was not able to perform the back squat with both legs with 230 pounds for 15 reps, the single leg supported squat is superior to the conventional back squat.
If you look at the back squat as just a lower body exercise, then I would say you are correct. But, here's the problem. It's not just a lower body exercise. Let's break this down a little bit. We'll look at it as two separate muscular systems (I know they all work together but just follow me here). You have the lower body muscles (legs), and you have the torso musculature (core). Let's remember that WORK = FORCE X DISTANCE.
So, for lower body work, SLSS results in greater work for the lower body muscles but less work for the core muscles. Inversely, the back squat will lessen the work on the legs but increase the work load for the the core. So here's what I'm trying to say:
Conventional Squat - Good lower body exercise but great for core strengthening and power transfer
Single Leg Exercises - Great lower body exercise but not as great for core strengthening and power transfer
So, in conclusion, my opinion is that you should squat (any variation: front, zercher, etc) at least once per week and do single leg exercises at least once per week because
STRONGER LEGS + STRONGER CORE = STRONGER YOU!!!
Monday, October 19, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
I look at a person’s knowledge as if it were a circle. For some, that circle is a dashed line and all information is coming in. For some, it is solid line with no information coming in. For some it is large with lots of information, and for some, it is small with very little information coming it. People with solid line circles also tend to have very small ones and people with dashed line circles tend to have very large ones. Let me tell you about the growth of my professional circle.
When I was nine years old, my mom bought me my first weight set. It was one of those sand filled jobs with an aluminum bar. The whole thing weighed about 40lbs. I opened it at Christmas and was ecstatic. I ripped open the box, threw away the instructions (of course) and began doing the exercises I saw on TV. So, there I was nine years old and my circle had just begun. It included deadlifts, squats (of course I didn’t have a squat rack, so it was more like clean and press to lower the weight on the back!), bicep curls, and floor press (I didn’t know what these were, I just laid on the floor and pressed the weight). My dashed line circle had begun.
From there, I entered middle school. I was lucky enough to go to a middle school in South Carolina that emphasized weight training for kids. Our coaches weren’t the most knowledgeable in the field of strength and conditioning, but they were passionate about what they did and managed to teach us the basics of the powerlifts (bench, squat, and deadlift). My circle got a little bigger.
By the time I got through high school, I had learned some rudimentary olympic lifting and powerlifting skills, as well as, some basic knowledge of periodization schemes. Now, I was going into college and my circle had become quite large. Anytime anyone had a question involving fitness and strength training, I could go to my circle and provide them with an answer. In retrospect, I can kind of see my line on my circle becoming more solid. Whether this was due to ego or immaturity, I’ll never know, but there was a definite closing of the circle in undergrad.
Next for me was grad school. Of course, there was not much left for me to learn after undergrad, my circle was already closed. Or, so I thought. Luckily for me, I was hired as a GA strength coach at Indiana State University where the head strength coach politely (note the sarcasm) let me know that I didn’t know half as much as I thought I did. Once I realized this, I sought out to learn more and continue to increase the size of my circle. I’m now almost three years removed from grad school and I can honestly say that I continue to increase my knowledge base daily.
The point that I am trying to make is this:
There is always someone who knows more than you. Don’t be uncoachable. And always strive to make your circle bigger.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Piriformis Syndrome is caused by an inflamed and overactive piriformis, weak or inhibited glutes, and overactive hip flexors. Basically, what happens is the inflamed piriformis puts pressure on the sciatic nerve causing pain, tingling, and numbness down the buttocks and leg.
This condition can be corrected by a combination of Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), Foam Rolling the Piriformis, static stretching the hip flexors, and strengthening the glutes and spinal stabilizers. (Feel free to shoot me an email for some examples)
Piriformis syndrome is usually the result of a person's everyday activities. Sitting on a wallet or sitting for long periods of time in general are usually the culprit.
Sciatica is often misunderstood. Sciatica is not a diagnosis. It is merely a set of symptoms usually resulting compression of the sciatic nerve root causing sever pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness. Piriformis Syndrome, Spinal Stenosis, and Spinal Disk Herniation being the most common causes.
The treatment of sciatica will depend on the diagnosis. It can range from physical therapy like listed above to surgery. It is important that if you are experiencing these symptoms, that you find out EXACTLY which condition you have!
Thanks for reading!
Monday, September 28, 2009
- OK now rant over!
Saturday, September 26, 2009
It seems to me that many trainers are into entertaining their clients as the primary responsibility and getting results their second. It’s kind of like hiring a mechanic to work on your car and all he does is park in the garage and do cartwheels around it. I actually spoke with a trainer that said he focused more energy on entertaining than anything else because, “I’m not that good. People come to me because I keep them entertained.” My response was, “So, you like wasting peoples' money?”.
Trainers should live by the motto “Show them you care, and then show them results”. The fitness industry is full of entrepreneurs looking to make a quick buck. Trust me; I have no problem with people wanting to make money. The thing that I have a problem with is people trying to make money without having something to offer. Take the terms “functional training” and “corrective exercise training” for example. As soon as a physical therapist came up with the term “functional training” to get their clients off the leg extension machine and introducing “real life movements”, someone decided it would be a good idea to come up with little gadgets like stability balls, bosu balls, and wobble boards and call them functional. This is because, for a while, anything that said functional on it was a huge hit. We have all now realized that most unstable surface training does not work for the healthy individual. Now, corrective exercise training is the new functional training. Don’t get me wrong, stability balls and foam rollers definitely have their place in my programs; I just don’t base it around them. I base it around getting results for the individual client. Any good program should incorperate the individual needs of the client.
The bottom line is, all enter”train”ment does is make the client and the trainer both look like douchbags!