Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Change Is Tough. Change Is Possible.

Posted: October 8, 2017 in Training

First, let me start out with a question: ¬†How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m doing EVERYTHING I can possibly do¬†but not making any progress!” Or better yet, how many times have YOU said that? If you’re truly doing¬†everything that’s required to take control of YOUR health, YOUR fitness, YOUR physique and even YOUR life, what’s the issue? ¬†What’s stopping you? ¬†Who‚Äôs stopping you? ¬†Is it the lack of intensity? Are you only going to the gym 2 times a week? Are you spending 45 minutes getting ready but only 15 minutes doing work? Are you not doing weights AND cardio because you don’t believe in one or the other? ¬†The list goes on and on of ways you can self¬†sabotage your progress. ¬†And while all these are things may seem small, when you add them up, they can have a¬†big impact on whether you succeed or fail. ¬†Below are answers to all of these issues I just discussed and how you can go from making excuses, to making changes.

It’s something I call F.I.T.T.

Frequency – This has to deal with the amount of times you workout, visit the gym, or engage in physical activity. You have probably seen and heard all sorts of claims that you only need to ‚Äúworkout 2 times a week to achieve your goals.‚ÄĚ ¬†Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but they are full of it and lying to you. They‚Äôre trying to give you a shortcut. In a society that demands instant results and gratification, they are taking advantage of you.¬† There is NO WAY to lose weight or gain muscle by doing something some of the time. ¬†In order to achieve the dramatic changes you seek, you have to put in the time.
My recommendation:   If what you are doing now isn’t making a difference, do more.  If you go to the gym 2 days per week, do 3.  If you go to the gym 3 times per week, do 4 and so on. No one said this was always convenient.  Shoot for 4-6 days or workouts, per week.
*Don’t do just enough, DO MORE.

Intensity – This is a big one that really drives me nuts. ¬†Intensity is how hard you are actually working, not how hard you think you are working. ¬†It is true that you need to vary the levels of intensity with your workouts, but there is an intensity goal that you should aim for on a regular basis. ¬†On a scale of 1-10 (1 being just walked into the gym and feel no fatigue at all and 10 being ‚ÄúI am DONE DONE‚ÄĚ) you need to be at 7-8. The tricky part is this: When someone is just starting out and has never exercised or is terribly out of shape, they will¬†not know what their true 10 is. Which makes it harder to determine what their 7 or 8 is. ¬†In the beginning, when they‚Äôre working at a 4 or 5 and they‚Äôre sweating and huffing and puffing, they think they‚Äôre at a 10. Maybe even an 11! But in reality, they‚Äôre just so de-conditioned that it seems like they‚Äôve reached their limits. ¬†Sorry to be the bearer of bad news again but‚Ķ NOT TRUE. Your body can do more than what your mind tells you.
My recommendation: First and foremost, no one said it was going to be easy,¬†stop making excuses or saying, ‚Äúyou‚Äôre tired‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúI‚Äôm sweating too much‚ÄĚ or my favorite, ‚ÄúI‚Äôm outside my optimal fat burning heart rate zone.‚ÄĚ
*Suck it up and get it done! If it doesn’t challenge you, then it won’t change you.

Time – This has to deal with the overall duration of each workout. There are a variety of workouts you can do ranging from short 15-20 minute bursts all the way up to 60+ minutes. ¬†Depending on what your fitness level allows you to do, as well as your reason for exercising, those should determine the length of your workout. Not, ‚Äúwhat‚Äôs the quickest I can be in and out?‚ÄĚ If you expect to complete every workout in the 15-20 minute range, then you¬†must be¬†spot on and perfect with your intensity level and hitting multiple workouts per week. Don’t expect much change or progress if you’re sitting on the recumbent bike catching up on your Real Housewives gossip for 15 minutes a day. ¬†Unless your rehabbing an injury, don’t even waste your time and definitely don’t tell people “I workout” because 1 week, 1 month, and 1 year from now, you’re going to be sitting in the same spot spinning your wheels wondering why nothing’s happening.
My recommendation: Plan for your workout time as if it were a meeting, an appointment, or something you have to attend. Expect to engage in some physical activity on a regular basis but plan for 3 different scenarios.
1) 15-20 minute circuit workout where you get in, get it done, and get on with your life.  This is plenty of time to do a total body workout using nothing but your own bodyweight.  No excuses, get it done.
2) 30-45 minute weights and cardio workout where you have a little more time to utilize both cardio AND resistance training.  Whether in a circuit or start with one and finish with the other.
3) 45-60 minute “do it all” workout.¬† This is more than enough time to stretch, warm up, workout, and do post workout cardio all while going at a moderate pace.¬† Whatever you do, get it done. Long story short: ¬†If you aren‚Äôt seeing changes and you‚Äôre working out for 20 minutes a day, do 30.¬† If you‚Äôre doing 30 minutes a day, then do 45. ¬†It‚Äôs that simple.
*If you find that you ‚Äúdon‚Äôt have the time‚ÄĚ, then you aren‚Äôt serious enough to make the sacrifices needed to make the changes you want.

Type РThis refers to the actual form of exercise you are doing.  This one is the EASIEST of them all.  If you are running and only running, do something different (or in addition to).  If you are weightlifting and only weightlifting, then do something different (or in addition to).  If you aren’t getting the results you wanted, but continue to do the same thing over and over while expecting to one day gain different results (or any results), you now know the definition of insanity.
My recommendation:  Mix it up.  One way is not always the only way.  2+2=4 but so does 3+1 and 5-1. Let me break it down for you. Make sure to include everything in your workout routine from resistance training to cardio to mobility and recovery to fully maximize your body’s potential.

AB-solutely!

Posted: November 12, 2014 in Training
Tags: , ,

You may have heard¬†that if¬†your core muscles¬†are weak, everything else will be too. Sounds pretty important huh?! Well if you haven’t, then let me explain it to you another way. Your midsection muscles from the front, around the sides and to the back act as a natural weightlifting belt. They are there to stabilize and support all of our day-to-day movements. So no matter if you are running, walking, sitting, lifting, driving or gardening, these muscles will be engaged and help keep your posture in check.

Looking at getting a tighter and stronger midsection, try this ab rotation for a stronger, more complete midsection: 2-3x/week ‚Äď 20 sec each – 3 rotations

1) Crunches (upper rectus abdominis)

Crunches
This is the traditional crunch. The idea behind this exercise is to contract and then relax your stomach muscles while keeping a flat back and raising your shoulders off the ground. You can place your fingers on your head (as in picture) for support, or you can have them on your shoulders. Either way, make sure to look straight up and DO NOT pull or crank on your neck.

2) Reverse Crunches (lower rectus abdominis)

Reverse Crunches
This is the reverse crunch. Whereas the regular crunch works predominantly the upper portion of the stomach, this exercise works the lower portion. The goal of this exercise is to slowly, and with complete control, lift your hips and lower body off the ground. Concentrate on lifting and pulling with your lower abs to make this movement happen. As you pull your knees to your chest, the next movement should be to lift straight up to the ceiling.

3) Side Bends (external obliques)

Side Bends
This exercise can be done in a variety of ways. The most basic example is standing and with a set of dumbbells (as in picture). With a light to moderate weight, you will simple bend to the side ‚Äď Side Bends. One thing to keep in mind while performing this simple movement: DO NOT bend forward or backward at all. Your goal is to bend perfectly sideways (lateral flexion). Your range of motion may be short to start but over time this also serves as a good stretch and will increase over time.

4) Side Plank (transverse abdominis, external obliques)

Side Plank
This is a variation of the very common and popular plank. This is the side plank that will work your complete core and will place a much higher demand on the midsection than your regular crunch. This version of the plank is known as an isometric movement. That means that there is no range of motion, you simply get into this position and hold.

5) Bicycles (rectus abdominis, external/internal obliques)

Bicycles
This exercise is slightly more difficult than the previous ones. The bicycle requires more balance, coordination and core strength to perform correctly. As in the picture, you will set up as if you were going to do regular crunches (see above if needed) but lift and straighten your legs out in front of you. Bring your left knee to your right elbow (as in picture) while rotating your midsection. Then, rotate the other direction to do the opposite side.

6) Prone Plank (spinal erectors)

Plank
This is one exercise you definitely don‚Äôt want to forget about. With all the previous movements, there has been some variation of hip flexion (bending forward / to the side) but nothing to do with the back. If you only try to strengthen the muscles in front, you will be never be as strong as you want to be or could be. The goal should be to work the opposing muscles (back muscles) as well. Think of it like the saying, ‚ÄúYou are only as strong as your weakest link‚ÄĚ. Meaning if your low back is weak, then so will your abs. You won‚Äôt have the ability to stabilize, support or control the weight you try to lift.

Now keep in mind, these exercises, NO MATTER HOW MANY YOU DO OR HOW OFTEN YOU DO THEM, WILL NOT trim the waistline. If you are looking to lose inches around the midsection, then your main priority should be drinking more water and having a cleaner eating protocol. Combine that with a sound cardiovascular and resistance program and then watch the changes happen! But that is for another day. This rotation will simply ‚Äútighten‚ÄĚ and strengthen the core muscles.

*Side Note: You cannot “spot train”. Especially with the abs. In order to have a strong and durable midsection, try engaging (squeeze and tighten) your stomach muscles throughout the day and with every lift you do. You will gain more strength by concentrating on engaging the muscles instead of just doing a million crunches.

We all have¬†busy lifestyles¬†and the¬†free time we do come across, is¬†quickly filled¬†with something else.¬†That¬†elusive free time usually¬†isn’t long enough to head to the gym¬†and improve our fitness and health. So what are we supposed to do? Do we just chalk it up as a loss and forget about¬†getting better or achieving goals? ABSOLUTELY NOT! We can¬†still get in a daily workout regardless of how busy¬†we get, how little¬†space¬†there is¬†or¬†what¬†equipment¬†we don’t¬†have.

All the same rules and goals that apply at the gym, apply to these workouts.
1) Increase Heart Rate
-It doesn’t matter if you use¬†complex cardio equipment¬†or¬†do something more basic like jumping rope¬†or jumping jacks, you can still achieve an elevated heart rate¬†and improve your
cardiovascular fitness.¬†Since the type of cardio you do doesn’t matter, because something is better than nothing, the way in which you do that cardio becomes more¬†important. And since¬† we¬†don’t have much time to begin with, we have to be smarter.

2) Incorporate Resistance Training
-This goal can be tricky for some¬†and¬†make people think¬†it isn’t possible without the use of¬†weight machines or dumbbells. That is not the case. Yes, you may have¬†to be more
creative, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. In these workouts, our main piece of equipment is the body. If you have access to dumbbells or bungees, that is a¬†bonus but not a
requirment.

3) Be Efficient
-This is a big one because we are already strapped for time. We don’t need to waste anymore by being slow¬†or lazy. It¬†may be¬†harder to concentrate on your workout¬†when
you¬†are at home instead of the gym, so throw on some good tunes and “get in¬†your zone”. We don’t have the time or the luxury to think and worry¬†about other things going on. This is your rare time, so spend it wisely.¬†¬†The goal of these workouts is to spend as little time as¬†possible¬†on our fitness, yet doing more¬†than enough to improve.¬†That means¬†things are going to be¬†done¬†at a faster pace¬†AND¬†have a reduced rest. Yes, you are right. That will¬†make it harder. But¬†that’s the idea.¬† Force your¬†body to¬†adapt. Remember, “if it doesn’t challenge, then it doesn’t change”.

4) Listen to Your Body
-This style of working out may be different than what you are used to. The normal set-rest-set-rest-rotate principle doesn’t¬†work¬†here. You may find yourself struggling a little bit to catch your breath or not able to fully complete a rotation. Whatever the case may be, make sure you listen to what your body is telling you. There is a difference between, “WOW! That was tough, I’m tired” and “I’m a little dizzy,¬†I can’t seem to catch my breath”. The idea behind changing your fitness and/or appearance is to get in that “uncomfortable” zone. It is at that point when your body will adapt and improve inside and out, but¬†make sure you do it in a safe and smart way. If you find that you¬†need more rest, then by all means,¬†rest.¬†Make sure you do one thing though, write it down, record it, make note of it. Do whatever you need to do because¬†down the road when you¬†look back, you will¬†see how much you’ve improved.

So you think you’re ready to make a change instead of an excuse?

Try these quick, yet intense workouts on a daily basis for results (alternate between the three).


Hello everyone, thanks for checking out this week’s blog. I have a new series I want to share with you and this is it’s first installment. It’s called, “Ask the Man Who Knows”. I will be picking the brains of the¬†brightest minds¬†in the¬†fitness world¬†as well as¬†health¬†departments at various universities.¬†Each interview will¬†consist of¬†multiple common,¬†as well as, complex questions regarding¬†mental and physical strength,¬†nutrition and everything in between. For it’s debut, I went back to my beginnings, to the man that inspired me, challenged me and educated me.¬†My professor at Millikin University,¬†Trevor Bates.

Trevor Bates

 

 

 

 

Let’s get started!

Prototype Fitness РHey Trevor. First off, thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to meet with me. I want to discuss some common health and wellness questions that the people of Prototype Fitness, and others in the fitness community, may have.

Prototype Fitness РFor those out there who may not know you or had the pleasure of sitting in on one of your seminars, can you give a little bit of information on your educational background and your current role in the world of health and wellness?
Trevor РYes of course. I received my BS from Millikin University, my MS from the University of Illinois. Currently, I am the Associate Dean of Health Sciences at Heidelberg University.

Topic #1: Mental Health
Prototype Fitness
– Well Trevor, here at Prototype Fitness, the goal is to live a healthy lifestyle consisting of being active, eating healthy and staying positive. How important is it to constantly improve all areas in one’s life? Does bettering all aspects mean a better quality of life?
Trevor – Beyond important, it is imperative.¬† All parts of life are connected. To try to separate the mind and body in the pursuit of improving one or the other is futile.¬† The quality of one’s life is arguably tied to the length and abilities that one has during their life.¬†To be healthy mentally and physically will surely affect both.¬† If someone is seeking to improve any aspect of their life, they should first recognize the interconnectedness of physical, mental, social, and spiritual health and address all of them together at a steady pace instead of one or another at different paces.

Prototype Fitness – Being positive and having a positive outlook on life can sometimes be extremely hard to do. What are some ways to help people stay positive even when faced with adversity? Is it as simple as telling yourself “be positive?”
Trevor – Reasonable and recognizable goal setting that encourages you to acknowledge every success, whether¬†great or small, has to be a part of one’s philosophy.¬† Set backs will surely happen and we all need to see the progress along the way to keep us motivated to reach that next goal.

TOPIC #2: Food and Nutrition
Prototype Fitness – Let’s take a look at the eating and nutrition part of this whole process. If you were to put a percentage on the importance of eating consistantly healthy, compared to exercising, what would that number be?
Trevor – 50%

Prototype Fitness¬†– Basically, you can’t have success with one or the other, it must be a total comittment between diet¬†and exercise?
Trevor – Absolutely.¬† I like to use examples and I would say it is like a marriage…it takes two committed partners.¬†One can work as hard as they want to, but if the other half is not contributing, the overall success is limited.

Prototype Fitness РGood example. That makes sense. I have another question about the importnace of nutrition. Would you agree that a person looking to improve their physique or loose weight or improve their health, would have to be very dedicated and discipline with their eating habits in order to reach their goals?
Trevor – Yes.¬† The old adage “…you are what you eat…” was no less true when it was first said than it is today.¬† A good example can be found with cars: a premium vehicle needs the right fuel for you to get the best performance and if you give it subpar fuel for too long, it will quit on you.

Prototype Fitness¬†– So far 2 for 2 with the examples.¬†Here is a question that is very common. “Eventhough I am a female, do I need to eat protein? I mean, I don’t want to get big and bulky”. So my question to you Trevor, is, do women need to consume protein while participating in a fitness program?
Trevor – Yes. Proteins are made from amino acids which are the building blocks of the toned muscle that women (and men) seek to have.¬† It would be like expecting spaghetti to be converted into muscle…it’s neither likely nor practical.

Prototype Fitness¬†– Well that’s good to hear. Protein is beneficial for everyone looking to maximize their efforts in the gym. What are a few benefits of protein¬†and what is it good for?
Trevor – Building muscle, improving digestive system function, serving as essential catalysts (starters) for many of the processes that the body does on a daily basis.

Prototype Fitness РNow when it comes to protein intake for women, how would you calculate or decide the proper amount? Is it the same for everyone?
Trevor – It is based on their body weight and goals of their overall fitness program.

Prototype Fitness РWe all know and understand that if you want to gain weight, you need to eat more. But the common misconception is that if they are trying to loose weight, that means eat less, and more specifically, not eat at all. Can you elaborate on the importance of eating food eventhough they may be involved in a weight loss program? Are they doing more harm then good?
Trevor – It is less about the amount and more about the content of what you eat.¬† The body is very protective of itself and it studies our habits.¬† If we do not give it fuel on a consistent basis it will go into self preservation mode.¬† This means that when we do eat, instead of using that food as fuel to make us stronger and to build on the exercises¬†we¬†engage in, it will store that food in the only form that it can store things indefinitely until the next time¬†we give it more substance… and of course, that is in the form of fat.¬† So the next time you consider not eating or think that it is in your best interest, think twice, because you can not outsmart your body.

Prototype Fitness РVery well put, thank you! Unfortunatly, that is something people struggle to understand.

TOPIC #3: Fitness
Prototype Fitness – Ok Trevor, nutrition is undoubtedly an important part of achieving any sort of a fitness goal, but let’s switch topics and focus on the exercise part of the equation.
Trevor – Sure thing,

Prototype Fitness РOne of the most common questions I get asked, actually comes in a series of 3. They are:
1) How many times a week do I have to workout
2) How long does each workout have to be
3) How long do I have to continue this process?
People tend to ask these questions as if fitness were a simple mathmatics problem. Can you better explain some of the variables involved in an exercise program that may require one person to spend more time, complete more workouts per week or participate in a longer program than someone else?
Trevor РGoals, goals goals.  It is all about where you are and where you want to be.  In between those two things are your goals.  Everyone will start at a different point as it relates to their initial level of fitness and we should be leery of people that will suggest a standard approach for everyone.

Prototype Fitness¬†– So would you agree that each individual workout program should be based on that person’s specific needs and abilities? Therefore being different than everyone else’s? There really isn’t a cookie cutter approach?
Trevor – Exactly.

Prototype Fitness¬†– Wait…are you saying that¬†people can’t just go to the grocery store, buy a workout magazine, try Jay Cutler’s 12 week contest prep program and end up looking like him? That won’t work?!
Trevor –¬†People¬†can do what ever¬†they like, but if you want something that works, then I would suggest against that approach.

Prototype Fitness¬†–¬†Just checking, thanks.¬†Here is another¬†topic that I would love for you to elaborate on. There are many benefits to resistance training such as increased bone density, increased muscle tone, decreased body fat, increased strength, etc. The list goes on and on, so why do many females shy away from weight training? Is it possible for a female to get (naturally) “big and bulky, like a bodybuilder”?
Trevor РYes and no.  Women produce only small amounts of the hormone testosterone that men produce in bulk.  With only producing small amounts, women have a lesser ability to gain and maintain large amounts of bulk with similar efforts of a male counterpart.

Prototype Fitness РBut will they recieve the same benefits from resistance training as men do?
Trevor РYes.  The benefits are uniform. The results however, will vary from person to person which has to do with something that we have no control over. And that is our genetic make up.

Prototype Fitness РOk Trevor, only a few more questions. You ready?
Trevor – Yes sir.

Prototype Fitness¬†– I would like to get your thoughts on bodyweight exercises. Say I am on the road and don’t have access to any dumbbells, barbells or squat racks to go through my normal strength training routine. I will be away for an extended period of time and therefore away from the gym. I do have some downtime at night and an adequate amount of space in my hotel room. Is it possible that I maintain the strength I have worked so hard for without lifting a single weight?
Trevor РI love this idea and this is the bulk of my exercise program.  I find that it is easier to maintain a program that offers me the flexibility to be active wherever I am and takes away my excuses of needing a facility or having to go out into the elements when the weather is unpleasant.

Prototype Fitness¬†–¬†Ok, that¬†should¬†give some people hope evernthough they travel. What are some¬†example¬†exercises¬†that would be good to do?
Trevor РI suggest a mixture of exercises that will target large muscle groups such as squats, push ups, dips, lunges, leg raises, etc.   You can travel with a thera-ball and/or a set of small dumbbells to make your basic body weight exercsie program even more involved no matter where you are.

Prototype Fitness¬†– Is cardio an option as well, eventhough I don’t have a treadmill?
Trevor – Yes, it’s all about the pace.¬† If you allow smaller amounts of rest and alternate body segments during your exercises session, you will create a cardiovascular challenge in addition to your weight training.¬† This is ideal for a person that wants to improve their overall fitness, improve tone, and work their whole body in a reasonable amount of time.

Prototype Fitness¬†– That’s perfect. Seems like there are significant benefits to exercising like that.

Conclusion:
Prototype Fitness
– Ok Trevor, that’s all I have this time. I want to thank you for taking the time to help fellow Protoypers, fitness enthusiasts and myself. We can all benefit from learning from the best. I know I have.

Prototype Fitness РDo you have any  final words to of wisdom or thoughts you want to share?
Trevor РYes. Be consistent.  It is better to cut back than to cut out on your exercise program.  Plan ahead and find a way to be minimally active when you are away from home.  Be honest with yourself first and foremost because you know how hard you are working and what you are capable of doing.  Be supportive.  Find a workout partner even if they live in another city or state and support each other. It is much easier to be consistent and honest, if you have support.

I’d like to sincerely add, that Mr. Joe Albin is a premier professional in the fitness profession and I look to him for ideas and inspiration for my on personal health and wellness.

Prototype Fitness РThank you Trevor. Look forward to hearing more from you next time.

Here is the second installment of Female Fitness. This is Combination Training for women. Combination Training is one of the many programs Prototype Fitness has to offer. It combines the strength benefits of weight training and the fat burning ability of boxing, for an unbeatable workout. In this particular workout, she used kettlebells, dumbbells, a barbell, boxing equiptment, and a jump rope. Although she has access to all of this equiptment, it is not a requirment to complete Combination Training.

To get your version of Combination Training started, contact me today!

Crunch after crunch after crunch won’t get you the strong, solid¬†core you’re looking for. We¬†know now that with multiple muscles, we need to hit multiple angles and use a variety of exercises. But with all¬†the different¬†ab exercises you’re doing, did¬†you hit all of the core? Unfortunately, the answer is probably¬†no. There are¬†more muscles¬†that need to be strengthened and worked¬†to ensure¬†a balanced¬†midsection. Since you are only as strong as your weakest link,¬†it’s time to¬†make¬†every link¬†strong!

Let’s take a look at what we’re missing. On the posterior (back) side of your body, the major muscle group we need to work¬†is called the erector spinae. Also known as your lower back, the erector¬†spinae¬†muscles are located right above your glutes and on both sides of your spine.¬†When fully developed,¬†on a person with low body fat, you can see them well and resemble a tree.¬†They have many functions¬†and responsibilities, but most importantly, keep you standing up straight. Since these¬†muscles oppose the abdominal muscles, they¬†limit flexion (bending forward) of the trunk and¬†keep you from falling forward. They¬†are a necessity¬†when lifting and¬†without a strong back,¬†heavy weights can be very difficult. For instance, when you are at the bottom of a squat, with weak spinal erector muscles,¬†your strict¬†form and good posture will disappear. Now¬†you are¬†at a high risk¬†for injury¬†and¬†won’t be able to generate enough power to stand back up. This leaves you buried and defeated on the squat rack. Hopefully not¬†injured.

Most of the exercises that you do when¬†working out will engage¬†either your lower back or abdominals or both.¬†Let’s concentrate on the ones that are specifically for your back. When looking at the exercises that strengthen the back, keep in mind that you will also be working other muscles in the posterior chain (muscles you cannot see in the mirror).

Here are 4 great exercises you should have in your program:

1) Hyperextension
This exercise is a very common one which does involve the use of a machine. Most gyms have one or a variation of it. When doing this movement, it is important to keep a constant bend in the knees as well as a straight, flat back. Once on the equipment, lower your upper body towards the floor. Next, while maintaining good posture, drive your knees into the padding and extend your hips to straighten back up. Your body should finish at a 180 degree angle, no more than that. When at the very top, make sure keep your chin tucked into your chest and squeeze your glutes.

2) Good Mornings
This particular exercise can be done with or without additional weight. If you decide to use additional weight, you can use a barbell or dumbbells. Performing this movement will engage the lower back, but you will also feel a stretch in the hamstrings and a good squeeze in the glutes. When doing this exercise, make sure to keep your back as flat as possible. With your feet roughly shoulder width apart and a slight bend in your knees, bend forward at the waist and go as low as you can while maintaining extremely strict form. Imagine you have a steel rod as a spine and cannot bend.

3) Supermans
This is a very easy way to strengthen your lower back. You don’t need any machines or weights¬†and can be done almost anywhere.¬†All you need is¬†enough room to lie down. The exercise¬†is so easy, it’s only two movements. Start out by lying face down with your arms either out in front of you or behind your head. At the same time, raise your upper and lower body off the floor so that neither your chest¬†nor thighs are¬†touching the floor. Hold for a full second then relax. Repeat. While doing this exercise, you will feel your lower back contracting as you lift, but you will also feel your glutes come into play.

4) Deadlift (any variation)
This exercise is a bigger movement and more complex than the others. It is considered to be an advanced lift but extremely effective for strengthening your back as a whole. Since this is a big, strong movement, you will use more than just a couple of muscles to perform this lift. There are a few variations to this exercise as far as foot position and type of weight you use. As in the picture, you can use a traditional barbell. However, there is one downside to using the straight barbell and that is the amount of weight that is in front of you placing more stress on your lower back. You have to pay very close attention to your form and keep your hips and glutes back. A good way to gauge proper technique is to have your training partner stand on the side of you and watch your knees. They are making sure that your knees stay even with or behind your toes. With the barbell, your feet are shoulder width apart and your grip is just outside that. Another option is to use a kettlebell. Although kettlebells are gaining some serious popularity, they are still not readily available in every gym. The basic idea and movement remains the same whether you use the kettlebells or straight bar, however your set up is slightly different. With the kettlebells, you will stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width and both hands will grip the weight in your midline. Priority is still to pay close attention to your technique.

*When adding these exercises into your program, don’t try to add all 4 to every workout. Try adding them¬†in one at a time and concentrate on perfecting the movements if¬†they are new to you. The deadlift can be¬†the main lift of your workout,¬†such as a squat or bench press would be, while the good mornings and hyperextensions¬†would be¬†an additional or supplemental¬†movement. The supermans can be performed within your ab rotation.

998…999…1000!¬†Now that’s a¬†set of crunches.¬†Your stomach is burning like crazy and you’re¬†positive there is at least a 12 pack under there. You should be able to look in the mirror and see a set of washboard abs, right? What do you see when you lift up your shirt and look? Is it the guaranteed set of¬†abs you thought? If not, do you know why?¬†If¬†you look at the muscles that make up the midsection, you can see that there are¬†multiple muscle groups. All of which have¬†different responsibilities and need to be worked with different exercises. So what are those exercises and how can you incorporate them into your program? Let’s breakdown the midsection, or core, and find out how you can make your next gut check, a good one.Abdominal Muscles

1) Rectus¬†Abdominis¬†– This¬†is probably the most sought after part of the stomach. This is the “washboard” part that almost everyone wants. A good set of abs can set your physique apart from everyone else if it’s¬†put together right.¬†This is where¬†the 4, 6 or 8 eight pack show up. The rectus¬†abdominis¬†muscles are responsible for flexion (bending forward) of the core. For example, when you are lying down and go to sit up, your rectus¬†abdominis muscles are the primary movers in that action. Or when you bend over to tie your shoes, again, those muscles make it happen. If you were to think about how many times a day and for how many different reasons you bend forward, you will realize how important these muscle are. Another very important responsibility of these muscles, is to limit or stop your body from bending too far backwards (extension).

2) Transverse Abdominis – This muscle group is an extremely important one. Although it is not as aesthetically pleasing¬†as other¬†muscles, it’s duties are monumental. It serves as a protector or stabilizer to the core and is your body’s natural weightlifting belt. When you lift heavier weights, this muscle will tighten down and keep the spine and pelvis in alignment. Without this muscle’s ability to do so, you run a much larger risk of¬†injury while being active or performing¬†big lifting movements.

3) External Obliques – Located on the lateral (side) part of your midsection, this muscle group is responsible for lateral flexion (bend to the side). While this muscle group is not as sought after as the rectus muscles, the obliques can enhance them greatly. It is this muscle that gives you the ‘V’ look down towards your lower abs. Ladies will know this muscle when they see it. A good set of obliques can¬†not only add to the appearance, but¬†they are also very important for¬†functional movements performed on a daily basis. The obliques kick into play by adding stability when weight is unevenly distributed.

4) Internal Obliques – Another necessary¬†muscle that doesn’t receive¬†as¬†much praise as it should,¬†is the internal obliques. It is this muscle that helps with trunk rotation and supports the abdominal wall. Also known as “same side rotator”, it works in conjunction with the opposing side’s external oblique to move towards the internal oblique. An example to activate your right internal oblique, is to reach your left arm¬†down to your right hip.

Now that we know what muscles we are trying to work, how do we get them all involved? Try this ab rotation for a stronger, more complete midsection:

2-3x/week – 30 sec each –¬†3 rotations
Crunches (upper rectus abdominis)
Reverse Crunches (lower rectus abdominis)
Side Bends (external obliques)
Side Plank (transverse abdominus, external obliques)
Bicycles (rectus abdominis, external/internal obliques)

Hello everybody and welcome back to Prototype Fitness. This week I will talk you through some different cardio options. Yes, cardio is necessary because the benefits are numerous. Cardio training is great for our cardiovascular fitness, our health and also our appearance. But walking on the treadmill for hours on end can be tedious and mind numbing. What other options do we have? Do we even have other options? And don’t worry guys, doing cardio work won’t adversely affect your weight training, it will only help. Let’s take a look at the different types of cardio you can do to add a little variety.

Personally I love to jump rope. It’s very simple and once you learn how to do it, you will never forget it. Another choice is the rowing machine. This is a great exercise because of the difficulty and amount of muscles it takes to perform. This next option has a few varieties: the stairmaster machine or a good old set of stairs. Both can be a great way to boost your workload capacity and leg strength. Just be careful coming down when your legs get rubbery! The most basic form of cardio is the treadmill. The treadmill is a great go-to machine because of the many different programs to choose from but still very straight forward. The last type of cardio that I will discuss, is a different one that you won’t see in your big box gym. This exercise is a total body, functional approach to cardio that is very fun and very effective. I’m talking about the sledgehammer. Usually used to hit a big tire, but there are many versions of this exercise.

Let’s dive a little deeper into each of these:

1) Jump Rope
The cool thing about jumping rope is that it can be done anywhere and everywhere. You don’t even need to have a rope in hand. This exercise is a great way to burn a lot of calories fast. For example, an average person weighing between 150-160 lbs jumping rope at a moderate pace can burn anywhere between 500-700 calories per hour!

*Since jumping rope for 1 whole hour is very tough, especially if you are just starting out, try this routine to start:

Days 1-5        30 sec jumping 30 sec rest    Repeat 10x
Days 6-10     45 sec jumping 15 sec rest      Repeat 10x
Days 11-15     1 min jumping 5-10 sec rest  Repeat 10x
Days 16-20    2 min jumping 30 sec rest    Repeat 10x
Days 21-25    3 min jumping 30 sec rest     Repeat 10x
Days 26-30   5 min jumping 1 min rest       Repeat 10x

  • Congrats! You can now jump rope for an hour!

 

 

2) Rowing Machine
This type of cardio is a very good option due to¬†the¬†numerous benefits you will receive. If you haven’t seen a rower, then you are missing a lot. The rower is the ultimate test of power and endurance and enforces a unique set of physical¬†demands on the body. It incorporates both lower and upper body movements that requires a full commitment from you to make it work. Rowing is often used with, but not limited to,¬†an interval type program performed in 500 meter sprints. You can go long distance on this equipment, as most rowers have a display to show meters rowed. As with most exercises, the size of the individual will directly affect the calories burned. For instance, that same 150 lbs person rowing at a Rowing machinemoderate pace can burn about 240 calories an hour where as¬†a 160 lbs person would burn 260.

*If you are new to the rowing machine, try this to start:
500 meters at a lower rpm
500 meters as many rpm’s as possible
Repeat 1x
Record your time.
Congrats! You just completed a 2,000 meter rowing race.

3) Stairmaster (set of stairs)
This next form of cardio is not for the faint of heart. It is very tough but an extremely great way to do cardio. Almost all¬†fitness facilities and gyms have a set of stairmasters, so be sure to claim your spot early due to the popularity of them and get ready to sweat. A¬†simple rule of thumb, when it comes calculating the amount of calories you can burn, is 10 calories per minute.¬†The best part of the stairs is that it doesn’t take a professional athlete to complete a “flight”. There is no special training requirements to go up and down. Anyone can do them almost anywhere: at home, at the office, at the store, etc.¬†This is a great way to strengthen your heart¬†and tone your butt. That’s a win-win ladies!

*Want to include the stairs into your daily routine but have the time to go to the gym? Try this:
Use the stairs anytime you have the option to do so instead of escalators or elevators. You will be surprised how far a set here and a set there will go.

4) Treadmill
Now on to the most traditional piece of cardio equipment. It is no doubt, one of the most popular ways to do cardio and one you will have access to whether at your normal gym or on a cruise ship or at some resort with your spouse. Chances are good¬†that you will find at least¬†one treadmill to work with. Similarly to other pieces of cardio equipment, there are many different things you¬†can do to have an effective and heart rate increasing workout. Most of the time, the treadmill will have the ability to incline for an increased level of difficulty. Whether you are training for a race or looking to burn a little extra body fat, you can’t go wrong with using the treadmill. However, the type of program you use will vary greatly. For instance, if¬† you are preparing for a race, you will want to engage in a long duration bout of cardio whereas if you are fine tuning your body for a show, you will want to stick to low intensity steady state (LISS). Both are very effective but for two completely different end goals.

*Next time you need to get in some cardio but don’t have a lot of time to spare, try this:
It’s called speed interval training (SIT) and requires a treadmill as well¬†as¬†a little bit of coordination on your part. The goal of SIT is to vary the intensity of work and to¬†raise and¬†lower your¬†heart rate¬†by altering the speed in which you are running.

Walk    4 min 2.7 mph        2 degrees incline
Jog       1 min 4-4.5 mph    2 degrees incline
Walk    30 sec 2.7 mph       2 degrees incline
Run     30 sec 7-7.5 mph     2 degrees incline
OFF     30 sec
Run    30 sec 7-7.5 mph      2 degrees incline
OFF     30 sec
Run     30 sec 7.5-8 mph     2 degrees incline
OFF     30 sec
Run     30 sec 7.5-8 mph     2 degrees incline
OFF     30 sec
Run     30 sec 8-8.5 mph     2 degrees incline
Walk   5 min 2.7 mph           2 degrees incline

Great job! You just completed a fast and efficient 15 minute cardio session.

5) Sledgehammer
sledgehammerThe last and¬†most-unique¬†form of cardio I will discuss is the sledgehammer.¬†I love using the sledgehammer for a good mix up in the routine. This is a functional approach that utilizes every part of your body including your mind. There is one¬†problem with this exercise choice, that is that you can’t find it or do it in your everyday gym. This would be something you would do on your own or a private personal training studio. It is a great exercise that can also train your coordination if you choose to use both sides (arms).

*If you ever have the opportunity to use the sledgehammer, either at the gym or to break up some concrete, try this:
10 swings on the left side
10 swings on the right side
Repeat 4x
Congrats! You either hit the tire and boosted your cardiovascular performance or tore up a sidewalk.

To sum it all up, there are¬†many¬†different forms of cardio that you can do and all have¬†upsides. The hardest part of doing cardio, is to do cardio. Plan for it as you would¬†plan for a meeting or a date or any of your¬†other workouts.¬†Remember guys, the cardio that you think will eat away at your muscles or force you to wear¬†small running shorts, is actually good for you. Just make sure that you use the one that works with you towards your goal¬†and not¬†against you. Just a side note, ladies, cardio is very beneficial but don’t forget to hit the weights. The combination of the two will help you reach your goals much faster than cardio alone.

I Think I Feel Sick

Posted: February 12, 2012 in Training
Tags: , , , ,
So I think it‚Äôs safe to say that we’ve all been there and experienced what I’m going to talk about today. You know the place; you’re on a solid roll with your workouts, being more consistent than¬†ever. Your eating is spot on and you’re starting to see improvements in the mirror and at the gym when all of a sudden you sneeze! But…you shrug it off and chalk it up to “something in the air”. Or maybe you wake up one morning and your throat is kind of scratchy. You think to yourself “ah…I’m just thirsty”. Then it hits you, BAM! The next day you wake up and have every symptom known to mankind and you swear it’s some new form of a virus that doctors haven’t even discovered yet. All you can think about is how am I going to exercise today when I feel like death?! The next few thoughts can go either way and sound something like this,¬†‚ÄúDo I push through it and try and tough it out or do I miss a day and concentrate on resting?‚ÄĚ Maybe¬†you did go through with the workout,¬†but was it what you’ve been used to?
This time of year, when it seems like everyone is getting sick, how do we know when to keep going and when to stop? I’m going to cover a few rules of thumb to follow when that rogue sneeze or cough comes about and how we respond to it.
  • If you are not feeling 100% but the signs and symptoms of are “above the neck”,¬†such as runny nose, nasal congestion, minor sore throat, or sneezing, exernot feeling wellcise is OK to go through with. You do however want to make some adjustments to your usual workout routine. It is reccomended that you lower the intensity. You can do this by¬†decreasing the overall duration of your workout, the amount of weight that you are¬†working with, or increase the amount of rest time you allow yourself between each set.
  • On the other hand, If your signs and symptoms are “below the neck”, upset stomach, total body muscle aches, chest pressure or congestion, or upset stomach, your best bet¬†is to rest and live to fight another day.
  • Remember, there’s always¬†an exception to¬†a rule.¬†That exception¬†is if you have a fever.¬†If¬†this is the¬†case,¬†do not¬†workout.
  • If you have not worked out before while feeling sub-par, then try a light workout on your own.¬†You are the only one that¬†truely knows whether or not your body is able to handle the stresses of exercise.

Just a Thought!
When you are sick, your body ramps up its’ immune system¬†in order to¬†fight off any virus or infections and is in an increased state of stress. If you were to then go¬†workout, you are only adding more stress to your body thus making it work harder to repair the¬†muscles from your workout.

*I am a fitness professional NOT a practicing or licenced physician. These statements and recommendations are based on personal experience and research done in the field of fitness. If you are feeling under the weather, please consult your physician before continuing with physical activity.