Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Advanced BodyWeight Core Moves

When some people hear “core” they think six pack abs.   Not true.   A strong core is soo critical, as we have discussed before.   The "core" is defined as the deep muscles that stabilize, support, align, and move the trunk of our bodies.   The core consists of many different muscles that run the entire length of the torso.      

There are a couple of advanced bodyweight moves you can do to help strengthen your core:   Hip Thrusts and The Dragon Flag.

Hip thrusts are best performed on a bench (but can be done on the floor).    You lay down on your back on a bench with your legs stretched out.  Lift your straightened legs up directly over your hips and keep your legs vertical.   You might need to hold on to the bench until you are balanced enough to perform without holding on.  Tighten your core muscles and lift your hips (and legs) straight up off the bench.  Your hips and lower back should be off the bench.  Lower your hips to the bench in a controlled manner.  This is a repetition exercise.  Since these are bodyweight, you should do higher reps (more than 5) per set.    

The Dragon Flag was made popular by Bruce Lee.  It is even more challenging than the hip thrusts.  A dragon flag is performed on a bench (although again the floor will work) again, on your back and you grasp the bench behind your head.   You lift your entire body up in a straight line and then slowly lower back down.  At the top of the move, you should be rolled up onto your upper back, nearly your shoulders.  The goal is to keep your body straight.   These are very advanced so initially you should start with bend legs.   Bring your knees in to your waist. Pull up with your hands keeping your whole body rigid until it rises up and your torso points directly towards the ceiling.  Hold the position for a second or two and then lower your body back down until your butt is just a couple of inches from the bench.  That is a rep.   As you progress, keep extending your legs more every session until you can finally do the dragon flag with your legs completely straight.

Our core is key to all our movements in life (not just fitness).   

Stay tuned…….

Monday, October 29, 2012

Ski Slopes - Do you know what they are spraying on it ??

Soon it will be ski season.  Not rushing the seasons but we did have 18 inches of snow last Halloween here in New England. 

I read this article and wanted to pass along.   Just when you thought you could not be shocked anymore by what people do…….

Stay tuned and ski SAFELY ……….

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Abraham Lincoln - Quote

“Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.”  -  Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

More than the Number

Fitness (for that matter life) is more than a number………..    I often have to remind myself of that.   For those of you that know me, I am a total OCD personality. 

Number on a scale, number of reps, number of lbs. on the bar, how fast we ran, how long we ran, how much weight we lost, etc…….  

The drive to do heavier, faster, better is a positive thing that keeps us moving forward.   However, do not let it ruin your fitness journey.   We have to do the thing that I struggle the most with……..balance.   My drive wants me to do heavier every single week in lifting.   Reality is that is impossible.  Otherwise, I would be lifting the house up right now.   Reality is some days will be gains, some days will be lesser and some days will be stable.   How much sleep we get, what we did in our “real lives” that day or the day before, workload, mindset, it all plays a part into our daily fitness routines. 

Consistency and intensity are the keys to a lifelong healthy journey.    The “numbers” will change as our environments change.  Being consistent and keeping up the intensity is what prevails over time.

Stay tuned………….

Monday, October 22, 2012

6 EVIL Companies to NEVER Buy Food From Again

I have some pressing work issues this morning but did not want to miss a post and the opportunity to “connect” with you.   

I wanted to share this link that I found on my iPad app  Flipboard (if you do not have it you should try it – outstanding source for gathered information).   I found the information on these 6 companies appalling.           

True and proven information is key in all areas of life.   Nutrition, training, fitness……. is no exception. 

Stay tuned………..

Thursday, October 18, 2012

R.W. Emerson - Quote

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – R.W. Emerson

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Static Holds

Static holds are also known as isometric holds (exercise).   This is where you put the focus on tension in the muscle.  This is performed without any movement.   These are great to build muscle definition.   There are two kinds of static holds - with or without resistance (weights).   

Planks are an example of a static hold without weights.   You simply HOLD the position for as long as you can.    Another example is flexing the muscle hard.   When I shattered my wrist, I wanted and needed (mentally and emotionally) to find a way to work the muscles in my arm so I did not lose the hard work I had put into my physique.   I could not hold anything in my left hand.   I typed emails and programmed code with only my right hand for almost 2 months.    After about a week or so, I found all kinds of moves I could do to continue to work my back, chest, shoulders and arms with minimal use of my left hand.    This took lots of creativity (such as strapping on an ankle strap above my wrist for cable moves and using forearms for pushing chest machine moves, etc.).     However, the two areas that were hard to target were my biceps and triceps.   I started holding a long static hold (flex in this case).    It was amazing burn.   Flex as hard as you can and time yourself.  Do several sets.  

Resistance static holds consist of holding the weight at the peak of the range of motion.   Examples include rows where you hold at the top point of the lift.   Therefore, in bent-over rows, you would hold the barbell when it reaches your chest.  Hold for a few seconds and then lower.   During pull-ups hold at the top of the pull up for a few seconds and then lower yourself.     This puts more tension on the muscle and challenges it differently than straight reps.

Add in static holds as part of your rotation and watch yourself bust through plateaus.

Stay tuned……….

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Great Debate -EGGS

I am sure you have noticed that there a lots of studies that show the benefits or health concerns for different foods.  Milk, red meats, bread and pasta, fats in general as well as certain ones specifically, like cooking oils.  For every “positive” study there seems to be a “negative” study. 

I have always thought of eggs as a nearly perfect food.   However, it is indeed one of the subjects of many conflicting studies.   I wanted to share this article on    Eggs - The Great Debate...

Stay tuned.........

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Jim Valvano - Quote

"Never give up! Failure and rejection are only the first step to succeeding." -  Jim Valvano

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Functional Exercises - Standing

We have covered functional training in an earlier blog posting.   However, I wanted to expand on functional training.    Standing, just standing properly, is a necessary body function.  The vast majority of all movements we do in our daily lives involve standing.  Or at least you should be standing more than sitting.   :)

So why do many individuals perform seated moves at the gym?   Real life postures (standing or sitting) are typically unsupported and unstable.   You can best train for these by lifting while standing.    If you need to push or lift in your daily life, challenge yourself by standing to do a row or standing to do a shoulder press?     Make your routine at the gym more functional by preforming the moves standing whenever possible.  You will also notice that you use your muscles differently!

Stay tuned…………

Monday, October 8, 2012

Potassium - Critical Mineral

Potassium has a significant role in our body functions.  It plays a role in our muscle development and metabolism.  We also hear about it as a component of electrolyte balance.  In this application, potassium keeps our heart functioning as it should.   Lack of potassium is also the greatest cause of muscle cramps. 

A few of the top sources for potassium are:  Dried Chervil, Sweet Potatoes, Avocado, Paprika or Red Chili Powder, Nuts, Seeds (as in Pumpkin, Sunflower, and Flax) and Fish (Salmon, Halibut, Tuna).

Try to add more potassium from natural sources into your daily nutrition.  (If you are taking any medication, you might want to check with your physician before you adjust your potassium intake.)

Stay tuned…….

Thursday, October 4, 2012

John Wooden - Quote

"Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability." -  John Wooden

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Step Ups

Step-ups like lunges are a unilateral exercise that is a powerful assistance move to work on balance and symmetry.   Step-ups (unlike lunges) can further develop power.  Power is quantified by a greater range of motion as well as the amount of force required to perform the motion.  

Step-ups have many variations.  Stand in front of a bench and step on top of the bench.  Bring your other foot onto the bench.   Reverse the motion by stepping backwards.  Lead with one foot and then the other.   As you advance, perform while holding dumbbells.   If they are too easy, increase the height you are stepping.  Try side step ups.    Just be sure to keep correct form – do not lean, instead use your legs to drive your body up.

Stay tuned………………

Monday, October 1, 2012

What is your fitness goal ?

What is your fitness goal?  Are you wanting to be stronger?   More strength?  More power?   Lose weight?   General functional fitness?   Longevity?  

Like most of us, I want it all.  I find myself in constant contradiction with my passion of “fitness."   I want to be 20 pounds lighter and still lift my all-time heaviest.   Impossible.   None of us can have it all !   So we need to focus on what is the most important to us and work towards that knowing there are tradeoffs.  

Know it is ok to reassess as you continue down the path of lifelong fitness.    Stay focused and consistent and that will translate to long-term success in building the YOU that you want to be.

Stay tuned…………..