If You Are Sitting Right Now, Get Up and Do These

This quick blog post is being sent to you to improve your day. Guaranteed!

Yes, you that spends 10+ hours sitting all day. That little tweak in your back, twinge in your hip, can all be improved right now.

Get up, and try these three exercises to stretch your hips, get your glutes fired up, and mobilize your upper back.

1) Hip Flexor Stretch – get in a half kneeling position. Which ever leg is back, squeeze that glute hard, and push your hips forward. Make sure you aren’t tilting forward with the hips, but rather tilting the hips slightly upward. Pretend like you have a big ol’ belt buckle on and you are trying to tilt it towards your chest. Reach overhead for a bigger stretch. (Hold for 15-30 seconds)

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2) Glute Bridge – lay on your back and drive your hips toward the ceiling while pushing through your heels. The goal is to create a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Squeeze the glutes HARD, like the great Dean Somerset says, “crack some walnuts”.  Hold the contraction for 1-5 seconds, for 10 repetitions.

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3)Thoracic Spine Rotations – lay on your side, stack your knees and bend your hips and knees to 90 degrees. Place the hand of whatever side you are lying on on your thigh. Reach across your body with the other arm while inhaling. Open up your chest to the ceiling while moving your hand from across your body to the floor while breathing out. Hold for 5 seconds, and repeat 5 times per side.

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Do these three exercises, and your back and hips will thank you later. Enjoy, and stay fit my friends.

5 Weight Loss Tips You Might Not Think Of…

When it comes to weight loss, there are some things that most of us are aware of. Eat less junk food, eat more fruits and veggies, exercise more, don’t drink soda, etc. However, there are some BIG aspects of weight loss that many people tend to neglect or forget. Without taking these following 5 tips into consideration, you may be missing out on some big progress in your weight loss goals.

1) Eating Enough Food

We all know that to lose weight, most of us should probably eat less than we do. However, eating TOO LOW of calories can really make things difficult, and unhealthy for our future. By eating a ultra-restrictive, super low calorie diet, we will lose weight…at first. The body will soon recognize this as starvation, and slows metabolism down – metabolic damage. This is what commonly happens with crash dieters. Sure, you lose weight at first, but the weight loss slows, eventually plateaus, and you gain it back.

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Example: A 35 year old, 170 pound female that doesn’t exercise will burn, on average, around 1700 calories a day. The lowest I would advise going for an extended weight loss plan would be 1200 calories. Add in some exercise, and I would say 1500 calories would still be safe. You may not lose weight as fast as you want, but losing weight is about a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. Obviously, not everyone is the same, so you may have to play around with your numbers a little bit. By adding exercise, this will increase the weight loss rate, and is totally safe. However, if you are exercising intensely or for long periods of time, getting enough calories is even more important for recovery purposes.

2) Lifting Weights

I honestly will continue to preach this until the day I die. Most people will jump on a cardio machine or run all day to try and lose weight. These options are great! However, lifting weights will only help you reach your goals faster. When we lift weights (with some intensity i.e. heavier loads, no pink dumbbells) our muscles become fat burning machines. The part in the muscle cell the burns fat (mitochondria) becomes more active, and becomes more abundant. Even better, this effect lasts hours, even days after our weight workout! Our muscles also become more sensitive to insulin post-workout, so when we eat carbs, they primarily get broken down into glucose and shuttled into muscles, not fat stores. EVERYONE should be doing some sort of resistance training at least 2-3 times/week.

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3) Eating Enough (Lean)Protein

This one pairs up with tip #2 very nicely. If we are lifting weights, we need to repair those muscles so they can stay strong, remain efficient at fat burning, and continue to aid in fat loss. Protein also has been proven to help with satiety, or fullness, and therefore can significantly prevent over eating later in the day. Everyone’s protein needs are different, but the following summarizes the needs for different levels of activity based on an extensive review article/position paper published by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.  (To find your bodyweight in kg, just divide it by 2.2. 220 lb = 100kg, 150 lb = 68kg)

  • Low Intensity Exercise 3 days per week (walking, leisurely biking) – 1.3g/kg body weight
  • Moderate Intensity Exercise 3 days per week (jogging, light lifting) – 1.4g/kg body weight
  • Moderate Intensity Exercise 4-5 days per week (jogging, light lifting) – 1.5g/kg body weight
  • Moderate Resistance Training 3 day per week (Higher reps, <70% 1RM) – 1.6g/kg body weight
  • Heavy Resistance Training 3+ days per week (High volume, >70% 1RM) – 2g/kg body weight

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4) Drinking Enough Water

Yes, water is great for hydration. But it also helps flush the body, move nutrients more efficiently, keep metabolism up. Water fuels the muscles for contraction, and that means that the muscles are working on burning fat. It also helps keep the kidneys running properly, so your liver doesn’t have to help out and it can focus on breaking down stored body fat. It’s also calorie free!

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5) Getting Enough Sleep

Sleeping enough will not only make you feel better the next day, but it will also help you out from a hormonal perspective. When we don’t get enough sleep, our leptin levels are lowered. Leptin helps to suppress our appetite the next day. Also, lack of sleep gives us an increase in ghrelin, a hormone that INCREASES appetite. Also, assuming you listened to tip 2 and are planning on lifting weights, sleep is the time that our muscles recover and repair damaged fibers (as long as we are fueling them enough during the day as well). Healthy and healed muscles burn fat much more efficiently than ones that are constantly fatigued and sore.

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So there you have it. Don’t starve yourself, lift some weights, eat enough protein, drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep. Always remember, losing weight isn’t easy, and can’t happen overnight…or we would all be doing it already!

5 Overrated Exercises…and how to replace them!

Okay, time to stir up some controversy… I thought about calling this “5 Worthless Exercises”, but that seemed a little too harsh…

This list contains 5 exercises, or exercise ideas that I (and research) believe to be non-productive, or even harmful to an exercisers potential goals. Now, I would never say “NEVER EVER DO THESE EXERCISES!” The point I’m trying to make is that I often have seen people doing these exercises in excess, incorrectly, or both. These exercises are fine to throw in once in a while just to get a different feel for something, or switch it up. This being said, I would never have a client perform these in the first place, unless for a very specific reason (rehab, limitations, PT orders, etc.)

1. Dumbbell Side Bends

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Even if this was good exercise, this girl isn’t even doing it “right”. The whole idea behind the dumbbell side bend is that you counter balance one side with resistance (usually a dumbbell), with nothing on the other side. Using two dumbbells completely defeats the purpose of what this exercise is supposed to do. Also, using 15 lb dumbbells wont get you anywhere, no matter your strength level. I do know that power lifters perform these to build up a strong overall core…but with 75 to 100 pounds dumbbells.

For your average Joe or Jane, these are a “waist” of time. Just because the abs and obliques and move this way, doesn’t mean they will really get much of a workout.

“But I want to lose my love handles!” Well, to be blunt, spot reduction (training one area over and over to lose fat) does NOT work. Also, doing these too much could actually bulk up your “love handle” area, making your waist look thicker. Lastly, some trainers and doctors really question the overall safety of lateral flexion of the spine, which could potentially cause serious injury.

REPLACE WITH: Side Planks side_plank_5800_7– side planks will work the same area through isotonic contaction, keep the spine straight, and still work on core stability. More to come about losing fat…

2. Heavy Front Raises

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The front raise puts a lot of sheering, downward force on the anterior deltoid head. The front part of your shoulder. If you are already doing some sort of pushing movement (bench, incline bench, shoulder press…) you are already sufficiently working this area of the body. Granted, this exercise can be uses with LIGHT weight as a warmup, prehab, or rehab movement. The main reason to stay away from doing front raises heavy, is overall risk for injury.

REPLACE WITH: Seated Arnold Press

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The Arnold Press will work your entire shoulder, but I feel more emphasis on the front of my deltoid, without the downward sheering force of front raises. Start seated with your palms facing you, and as you press up, rotate your hand outward so at the top of the lift you are finishing like a standard shoulder press.

3. Overkill on Abs to Get a Six Pack

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Sure, everyone wants a flat stomach or a 6 pack. Doing endless crunches wont get you there. As stated earlier, spot reduction just doesn’t work. You would need to do about 250,000 crunches to burn off one pound of fat…good luck. Yes, when you do a bunch of crunches and ab exercises, you feel it. But everyone has abs, it might just be hidden under 50 pounds of fat, or even 1/2 stubborn inch. Also, abs can be done incorrectly, and potentially cause injuries (pulling on the neck, spinal hyperextension, improper flexion).

REPLACE WITH: Cardio and Diet

Not what anyone wants to hear, but its the truth…

4. Hip Adductor/Abductor Machines 

adductor1First reason, SPOT REDUCTION DOESNT WORK!!! Most people (females in general) go these because they want to get rid of the stubborn fat that accumulates on their inner thighs. Also, you technically have no “inner thigh” muscle to be working. You have you quads and hamstrings that make up the mass of the leg. The only muscle this exercise really works in the piriformis which is deep inside your hip and no one, except your surgeon will ever see. These machines can also lead to groin pulls. I would MAYBE recommend using this as a way to warm up tight hips, but even then, highly questionable.

REPLACE WITH: Incline Cardio (for fat loss) or Lunges/Squats for muscle and toning

By doing cardio on an incline, you still cannot spot reduce, but you will be working more than just your cardiovascular system. You will definitely feel the burn more in your hamstring and butt area, and also burn much more calories. For muscle or toning, you cant beat good ol’ fashion lunges (glutes) and deep (parallel) squats. And no ladies, you wont bulk up —> Why Women Should Lift Weights  

5. The Shake Weight (couldn’t think of a good 5th one)

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No…just, no…

Replace With: Anything for your arms, chest, or shoulders

Two Different Transformations, Two Unnecessary Different Views…

Recently I was on my facebook account and saw a picture of one of my friends (Friend A) who is preparing for a bodybuilding show in April. He is currently cutting carbs and looking really lean. He has posted a few pictures of himself during his grueling transformation. When I was in high school with this guy he was always a pretty skinny dude. Now he is fully dedicated to the lifestyle of a bodybuilder and I couldn’t be more impressed.

I know all about the hard work, hours in the gym, strict and sometimes (well most of the time) boring and bland diet, and overall dedication that goes into preparing for a bodybuilding show.

I also have seen one of my friends (Friend B) from the gym that I work for lose almost 175 pounds of fat. She posts a few pics here and there on her facebook of her amazing transformation. I still remember when she came in day 1, head down, very shy, and looked very unsure of herself. She now comes to the gym twice a day, runs races and her attitude has pulled a complete 180. She is one of the most inspiring people I have ever met, and she continues to amaze me every time I see her.

I know all about the hard work, hours in the gym, strict and sometimes boring and bland diet, and overall dedication that goes into losing weight.

Both friend A and B have done amazing things to transform their bodies. Through blood, sweat and tears they have worked their asses off to get where they are. I dont see either one of them slowing down either. Now comes in the main reason I decided to write this…

After (Friend A) posted a picture of himself showing his abs on facebook, I texted a friend – “hey, have you seen Friend A’s latest picture on facebook?” The friend that I texted proceeded to send me a screen shot of him/her and 2 other people chatting about it on their iPhones…the texts were as follows “hahahahahahah” “TOOL”. Now this prompted me to ask the question, “Why does this make him a tool?”. After a few back and forth texts, another mutual acquaintance of ours came up in conversation. “Do you know so and so? (not Friend B) she has lost a ton of weight and looks great!”…To this I thought, “ok, so she was overweight, lost a ton of fat and looks awesome, yet Friend A who was once skinny and gained a ton of muscle and looks awesome is a tool?”. Now I understand, not every person is into big muscles or whatever you wanna call it, but I’m looking bigger picture here.

I can see how a lot of people would think that posting shirtless pics of you posing on facebook would be “toolish”, but really, if that is their passion, and they work 10 times harder than you ever will in the gym, why does it matter? Friend A is not a tool, he is a really nice guy who maybe according to some people does “toolish” things by posting shirtless pictures of himself. I’ve seen pictures on facebook (I’m guilty) of people out drinking and looking like tools.

So tell me, what really is better? Someone who treats their body and lifestyle with complete dedication and seriousness, or someone who goes out and slams a bunch of booze, might make decisions they regret, and feels like garbage the next morning?

The main reason I posted this is because sometimes I think people need to take a step back, and think before jumping to conclusions. How can you judge one transformation that takes hard work and dedication as making someone a tool, and judge another that takes just as much hard work and dedication as being awesome and inspiring?

To me they are both inspiring people, and if more people took the time to really think about the hard work and dedication that goes into creating a healthy lifestyle through bodybuilding or weight loss, they might realize that these are just normal people, pursuing a better life and working pretty damn hard at it. Only if more Americans could take some notes from Friends A and B…

Please comment and share your opinions, I wont judge 😉

Why Women Should Lift Weights

Many women avoid lifting weights, especially heavier weights due to the fear of bulking up. This is one of the most common misconceptions in the fitness realm. The fact of the matter is that women should lift weights, and not be afraid to go heavier. The reason men bulk up is because of the levels of testosterone that they naturally have. Women typically have ten to 30 times less testosterone than men and therefore have no need to worry about turning into the next Arnold Schwarzenegger.

By lifting more weights, women can reap many benefits that cardiovascular exercise just can’t provide.

1. You will become stronger.

By lifting weights, you increase the strength of your muscles and therefore will be able to perform everyday activities with more ease and less dependence on others. By being stronger you will also be at less risk for injury throughout other exercise programs that you may follow.

2. You will burn more fat.

By increasing your muscle mass (not by a ton), you will also increase your resting metabolism. This will help you burn more calories not only during your other workouts, but throughout the day. The more muscle you have, the more energy your body must burn to fuel your muscles with energy. The energy that is used to run your body on a daily basis can be provided by the fat stores that you have.

3. You will build stronger bones.

Osteoporosis is an all too common bone disease, especially in women. This is due to the hormonal changes that a woman’s body goes through during menopause. By lifting weights and doing weight bearing exercises (squats, deadlifts, standing presses, etc.) the bones in the body come under more stress and this causes them to naturally “remodel” themselves in order to accommodate the added stress of weight lifting. This will make your bones stronger and less likely to break down due to osteoporosis. It is also important to have adequate calcium and vitamin D in the diet to provide the important building blocks of bones. The current recommendation for calcium intakes for women is 1200mg per day.

For reference, a cup of skim milk is about 300mg.

4. You will build stronger connective tissue.

Not only will your muscles and bones be stronger, but you tendons and ligaments will become stronger through adaptation to the weights being lifted. As long as you have good form, this will help prevent against back pain, knee pain and arthritis in many joints. Lifting weights will help increase the density and strength of the connective fibers that hold your muscles together and your muscles to your bones.

5. You will help reduce stress and depression.

A study from the Journal of Medical Sciences found that intense exercise with weight lifting decreased signs of depression 50% more effectively than a low intensity workout. Also, there was a direct correlation with gains in strength and the reduction of depressive symptoms. On a vitality and quality of life scale and survey post experiment, it was found that there were better results from the high intensity and weight lifting group.

The next time you are at the gym, consider the weights your friend, and know that you have nothing to fear! If you are new to weight lifting, be sure to consult or even hire a personal trainer to help with proper form and exercise.