Exercise of the week: Side Plank

Planking, no not the thing where you lay on said object and take a picture trying to get your likes up. Any plank whether it’s a front plank, side plank, shoulder plank, whatever the plank may be, they all follow the same simple rules. They’re all core intensive with the goal being to improve core stabilization or improve your core’s overall ability to resist movement. Yes, believe it or not this is our core’s main function to keep you standing in an upright position without falling forward, sideways, or backwards. When we don’t work on our core’s ability to do this our wonderful body will still keep you upright through compensation. This just means your body will group up and use other supporting structures or muscles to do the job your core is supposed to be doing. The other thing that all plank exercises share in common is you must maintain neutral or in normal terms keep your body as straight as possible from head to toe. Without too much more ranting a great exercise at improving core stabilization and possibly reducing low back pain is the Side Plank. If this interests you…..hint hint…..it should, I advise you to read on and add it into your workout today!

Side Plank

Getting set-up

Setting up 

Start with a mat on the ground or on a cushioned surface. Lie on your side. Place either your forearm on the ground forming a 90 degree angle with elbow underneath your shoulder or push your body off the ground with a straight arm. Standing up straight with feet at hip width from each other. Arms should be by your side and you should be in a nice tall position. Legs should be straight with one on top of the other or one leg crossed in front of the other.

Performing it

Body straight and hips up

Slowly, in a controlled fashion  lift your hips off the ground with either one leg  forward or leg on top of leg. The upper body should be supported on your extended forearm or extended straight arm. Gaze should be straight ahead with head being in line with body. Place your other hand on your side or extend the arm straight in the air. Make sure your shoulder is in line with the side of your body and not leaning forward. Lastly take short deep breaths the entire time and hold your position for the prescribed duration. Once completed on one side duplicate it on the other side for the same duration.

 

Things to focus on:

*Keep body straight from head to toe

*Keep hips up and don’t let them sag

*Gaze should be straight ahead

*Shoulder should be in line with body

*Take slow, controlled, deep breaths

 

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Exercise of the week: Forward Lunge

Lunging has been a staple in many people’s programs for a long time, but in many circumstances it shouldn’t be. Like any other exercise there are fundamental movements and compencies that must be learned before you just jump into the fire. Previously we went over the Split Squat, which helps develop mobility, stability, strength, and balance , but with minimal movement. Next, we moved into a more dynamic and actual single leg exercise- the Reverse Lunge. This challenged hip stability, balance, and strength more, but also introduced dynamic movement to the equation. Now, it’s time to tackle the most dynamic basic single leg movement, the Forward Lunge. It will force you to accelerate your body forward then decelerate it and lower it all while staying in control of your hips, knee, ankle, shoulders, pelvis, hips, and torso. If you have mastered a bodyweight split squat and reverse lunge, then you’re now ready to tackle this extremely beneficial exercise. You’ve earned the right to forward lunge, so check it out and let’s get to work!

Forward Lunge

Getting set-up

Setting up 

Start standing up straight with feet at hip width from each other. Arms should be by your side and you should be in a nice tall position.

Performing it

1. Lunging forward

Slowly, in a controlled fashion step forward with your lead leg. Take an even stride forward, you shouldn’t be overextending or barely stepping forward. The front foot should be firmly planted on the ground and on the balls of your foot on the back leg. Once you take your stride forward, lower your body towards the ground until your back knee slightly contacts the ground. Posture should be tall with a very slight forward lean towards the lead leg.

2. Propelling back

Push through the center of the lead leg foot and propel your body backwards to a tall standing position. Most of the force should come from the front foot with barely any assistance through the back foot. Repeat for goal repetitions, remember because it’s a single leg exercise you have to switch legs and do the same amount with the opposite leg leading.

Things to focus on:

*Maintain tall posture with slight forward lean

*Take an even/controlled stride forward

*Push front knee out, not in

*Drive through front lead leg

 

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Exercise of the week: DB Farmer’s walk

Functional exercise anyone? This word “functional” gets thrown around nowadays like candy, and too many times the so called exercises that are labeled functional aren’t too functional. Standing on a stability ball while pressing a dumbbell overhead comes to mind. I mean if you plan on being stuck on a floating piece of ice and you happen to be pressing a penguin overhead to save it’s poor life, then well I totally understand. Let’s be real though. You won’t be lucky enough to be in that situation, so let’s stick to exercises that truly are functional and maybe get away from feeling that every exercise has to involve a stability ball. Look at our daily functions, squatting up/down, deadlifting things from the floor (children, dogs, furniture, groceries), carrying said things from point A to B, pushing/pulling doors, pulling things around, reaching for objects,  I think you get the point. Here’s one of the simplest, but maybe most beneficial/functional exercises around a Farmer’s walk. Looks a lot like you when you get home from the grocery store and want to do your best to make it one freaking trip into the house . **Quick note: I’ve NEVER EVER taken more than one trip into my 7th floor apartment with groceries,  it’s not American people. Holding heavy things in your hand not only builds up forearm/grip strength, which most people lack especially as we get older. It also forces your core to do it’s best to stabilize/stay upright (it’s main action). If that doesn’t interest you how about the other benefits of carrying exercises like better posture (shoulders down/back), stronger glutes, stronger lower body, and maybe the most important benefit HUGE carryover to daily activities!

DB Farmer’s Walk

 

 

Getting set-up

Setting up 

The set up looks easy, if you watch somebody in a video or at your gym do it, but there are some things you must do that make it a little more technical than it looks. Start with two HEAVY dumbbells side by side on the ground. Chart out a distance in a straight line you wish to travel 20, 50, 100 yards. Aim for a distance that is achievable and start on the conservative side. You can also switch it up and instead of going for distance, go for time 20, 30, 50 seconds. Again be conservative and work you way up from there. Whichever you choose to do, distance or time, make sure the dumbbells are facing the direction you wish to travel with handles parallel to each other. Squat down inside the space between the two dumbbells and grip each one with fierce intent. Keeping hips high and back neutral (flat), deadlift the dumbbells up to a standing position. Set your shoulder blades down and back with arms straight BY your side (not touching your sides).

Performing it

1. Walk it out

Slowly, in a controlled fashion (not losing your set up), start walking it out. Make sure your forcibly pushing the dumbbells down towards the ground and keeping a tight squeeze with your shoulder blades down/back. Vision should always be looking forward where you’re going and breathing should remain controlled/deep.

2. Setting them down

Once you’ve reached your distance or time you charted out, hinge your hips back lowering the dumbbells down. Keep hinging until the dumbbells get below your knee and then bend your knees to squat them to the ground. Rest and do it again for your prescribed repetitions.

Things to focus on:

*Maintain tall posture

*Squeeze the dumbbells hard

*Push dumbbells down to lock posture

*Shoulders blade down and back

 

~Have an idea for the exercise of the week? Comment and let me know!

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Demystifying nutrition: 3 Unbelievable Secrets To Your Perfect Body

top-secret

Confusion is everywhere when it comes to nutrition and I’m here to hopefully put an end to that. I firmly believe that people thrive when you keep it simple, rather than
throw a whole bunch of crap at them in hope that something sticks. The population I work with, which makes up I would say 95% of people, is focused on two things: looking better and feeling better. That’s it point blank, they aren’t training for an NBA contract, but rather they’re training for life. Extreme approaches or even obsessive tracking just isn’t neccessary for the majority of people. Why not keep it simple and find the most important guidelines to follow that will maximize the two things people truly care about, looking better/feeling better. This is what I intend to do with this post. It will be short, it will be concise, and at the end you will have 3 guidelines that if followed will set you up for success.

1. Indulge on vegetablesGreen-Leafy-Vegetables-in-Diet

Seriously though, I don’t care who you are chances are you don’t eat enough. Having a conversation with someone about how many vegetable servings per day they eat goes two ways. First they automatically say “I eat salads at some meal”, usually lunch. Which after careful questions boils down to “I eat a salad about once a week”, which then turns to “I eat a salad that contains lettuce maybe a tomato some chicken” (and a swimming pool of dressing). Hopefully we can agree this is not good. The second way this conversation goes is “I hate vegetables, I just can’t stand said vegetable”. I then ask about a whole bunch of other vegetables and guess what they like these vegetables. We can all see the solution can’t we? Don’t eat said vegetable and load up on the ones you like, simple right? Honestly though I’m going to go through a bunch of scenarios, so you can see my point why this is a can’t lose guideline. Look in the mirror long and hard, do you like what you see or want to make changes? Yes or no – eat more vegetables. Do you want a six pack that the ladies will adore? Eat more vegetables, why you may ask would you do that? Look at the nutrition of anyone with adownload six pack I will guarantee there are a lot of differences between what each person eats, but the one absolute commonality is they ALL eat a lot of vegetables. Maybe you’re on the other spectrum and want to gain more muscle, still eat more vegetables! Why? Again, look at all the most muscular people (not on magazines) they all differ in what they take, do for exercises, or even eat but the one absolute commonality is they ALL eat a lot of vegetables. On the other side what else does this guideline solve. If you are worrying about eating more vegetables and doing your due diligence to indulge on them you must automatically be reducing the crap. There will be no room for crap because you will be going out of your way to eat nutrient dense vegetables when before you were going out of your way to get nutrient dull junk.

2.Protein at every meal

Say you eat three meals in a day, a protein source should be at all three and same goes if you eat four or five or six. If you’re one of those people asking how much, please stop. We’re trying to simplify not complicate, by getting someone to add a protein source to every meal we’re automatically increasing their protein intake. This is an instant win, because in my experience most people don’t get enough. Studies consistently show that people who eat more shutterstock95551708protein tend to have more muscle mass than people who don’t. Protein also has the added benefit of keeping us full longer therefore reducing calorie intake because we won’t be looking for extra snacks to fill our hunger later. The purpose of this guidline once again is to be open and allow for individual preferences, but keep the principles the same. In this case no matter what protein source you choose at each meal it should be if possible whole food like fish, eggs, beef, poultry, animal products, dairy, nuts, beans etc. If you happen to have adopted a plant based diet it will be a little more difficult, but the guideline still applies just the protein source will most likely come in the form of supplements like powders.

3. Make water your drink of choice

Out to dinner, can I get a water with lemon with my food? Hmm there’s tons of choices here in the soda aisle, oh wait water should be my drink of choice let me skip the soda and get some water. It’s seriously a win win. The immediate impact is by drinking more water you reduce the intake of calorie loaded beverages. The body relies on a water, I mean drink-water1the majority of our body is water so we better make sure we keep the balance. In addition, water helps keep us hydrated and thirst at bay which can reduce our overindulging on other things because with thirst usually comes hunger, which usually means pizza not fish and veggies. Now if you notice the guideline is to make water your drink of choice, not only drink water. It’s about keeping it simple most people will not exclusively drink water because quite frankly that’s a bit extreme. By having a guideline to make water your drink of choice most of the time  instead of making something like vodka be, it will result in nights where you say  “I’ll take a water on the rocks” instead of “Three more shots please”. Not everything has to be an all or nothing, but rather a solid most of the time works just fine for the majority of people.

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That’s it, now you have the three bar none BEST guidelines to set you up for success. Notice I’ve stressed set you up for success because let’s face it no matter what there are going to be people who abuse the rules or interpret the rules they way they see fit, which is fine, but it won’t result in success. These three guidelines should govern your nutrition not dictate, but I promise you that if you follow these guidelines the majority of the time and add in some goal oriented movement you will bash down any obstacles in the way of your success!download (1)

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Exercise of the week: Reverse Lunge

If you’ve mastered the split squat and want to progress, there truly isn’t a better second level progression than a reverse lunge. Stepping backward as in a reverse lunge is not only very knee friendly, it also is a great way to develop single leg strength, improve hip stability, increase core strength, and activate the posterior chain. In addition, it is more of a dynamic exercise as opposed to a split squat meaning, it requires a lot more stability and coordination. Try it out!

Reverse Lunge

Getting set-up

1. Setting up

Start standing up straight with a slight space between your feet. If you’re doing strictly body weight reverse lunges arms should be straight and by your sides.

Performing it

1.Stepping back

Slowly and in control take a step back with either leg.  Landing on the balls of feet, lower yourself and bend your back knee until it slightly contacts the ground. Stay tall through your spine without any excessive forward leaning of your torso.

2.Powering forward

Forcefully push through the heel of the front leg propelling your body forward and returning to a tall standing position. Complete all your repetitions on this side and switch lead legs making sure to do the same amount you just did on that side.

 

Things to focus on:

*Maintain tall posture the whole time

*Don’t let the front knee go past toes

*Stay in control throughout the entire movement

*Finish by squeezing lead leg glute

 

~Have an idea for the exercise of the week? Comment and let me know!

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Demystifying Nutrition: Sugar Free Is Overrated!

Think of a grocery store like a huge ocean; you are a fish, and the food marketing industry will do anything to reel you in.

food-label-claims-cover-dark-bkg

Oh, those chips are fat free?They must be healthier than the same chips that have fat! All natural must be healthier because natural is better, right? Pump your brakes! Those big, colorful, and perfectly placed labels on the front don’t care about your health goals. In fact they care about the complete opposite, your money. Check your cupboards because some of those products you have been purchasing in an effort to achieve your health goals, may actually be the obstacles keeping you from your health goals. Let me show you 5 of the worst labeling tricks used to make something unhealthy seem very healthy!

“All natural”

When most people think of “all natural” they think naturally occurring on earth. The problem is the food industry knows this and it also knows that we’re all trying to eat healthier. So why not cash in on this by leading people into thinking certain products are natural. Unfortunately, in the the food industry there isn’t much regulation to labeling something natural. Look at these examples.

Ever seen a cheetos hanging from that tree in your backyard?

Ever seen a cheetos hanging from that tree in your backyard?

Maybe a goldfish cracker in your pond?

Maybe a goldfish cracker in your pond?

Maybe drink some pepsi from your faucet?

Don’t be fooled into thinking because something says natural that it is automatically healthy. A cheeto is still a cheeto, a goldfish cracker is still a goldfish cracker, and soda is still soda. If you need a chip eat a chip, but don’t fool yourself into thinking its natural or good for you because a label tells you so.

“Sugar free”oreo-sugar-free-400x400

Yes, eating sugar like it’s going out of style isn’t in your best interest. Same goes for anything else you want to throw in there to replace sugar. Just like anything else, too much of something in most cases leads to bad consequences. In this instance the “sugar free” labeling on food is designed and marketed to prey on people who think sugar is evil. It’s important to note though that just because something doesn’t contain sugar doesn’t mean its calorie free, carbohydrate free, or even healthy. Do you know what  aspartame, sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, or even isomalt is? Chances are you don’t and chances are you agree that these things don’t even sound healthy. Guess what? If it is sugar free it contains one of those weird sounding ingredients in order to give it flavor.  Sugar doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?

“Multigrain”Amultigrainbread-thumb

Multigrain must mean healthy because wheat is a grain and thats healthy right? Wrong! All that something must have to be labeled multigrain is exactly that just more then one grain. It doesn’t matter how its prepared or processed it just needs multiple grains in it. It also doesn’t matter what part of the grain you put in it, seeing as there are three parts to a grain that each contain important nutrients it’s crucial to ensure all three are in there to maxmimize its value. Look at the first ingredient on the back of any “multigrain” or even wheat product if it says 100% whole wheat in the first ingredient then you know it contains all neccessary components of the grain.

“Gluten free”

Don’t be fooled by the gluten free obsession. Gluten free doesn’t neccessarily mean low calorie or even healthy, all it means is it
doesn’t contain gluten a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Not only are gluten free products usually more expensive, but gluten-freebecause the gluten has been removed it is usually filled with even more calories and sugars to actually make up for the taste/texture of it’s gluten counterpart. In addition, gluten free products tend to lack in essential nutrients like fiber, iron, zinc, and magnesium just to name a few. Yes gluten free is a neccessity for someone with celiac’s disease or a gluten intolerance, but if you haven’t been diagnosed with either, there is literally no need.

“Fat free”

Everybody is looking for the evil thing to demonize and blame all their struggles on. In recent times, it has been fat. So what dproduct_FF_Italiano marketing companies do? They capitalize by marketing things as low fat or fat free because they know you will buy it without thinking twice. I went into length about the importance of fat and why it is actually essential here, so give it a read if you want to learn the benefits of fat. But moving on like I stated before a processed food like chips, ice cream, or crackers will always be a processed food no matter whether that label says fat free,natural, gluten free, or whatever.
Remember a chip is a chip, regardless of what the food marketing industry wants you to think. Everytime something is removed something is also added, this is the same case with fat free products. Removing fat or reducing it results usually in added sugars to make up for the loss of fat flavor and essentially brings the overall calorie content up to match, or exceed the fat containing counterpart product.

 

Don’t be deceived by the clever marketing companies because believe me they could care less about your health goals. The job4f214be7cfbd9fae8138c8b4e11092fe of the food marketing companies just like any other marketing company is to find out what makes you tick and use it to close a sale. Sugar is demonized, so let’s make sure we say our product is sugar free. Fat is in the dog house, let’s make a fat free labeled product. It’s your job as the consumer to not fall victim to these marketing ploys and take the time to educate yourself, so that you know what you’re putting in your body is in line with your health goals.

Here are our three main takeaways:

1. A chip is a chip no matter what the front label tells you. And no, chips aren’t “healthy”, but they taste good.

2. Free of something only means they’re replacing it with something probably worse.

3. Skip the front of the package and focus your attention on the back nutrition label.

 

 

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Exercise of the week: Split Squat

Everybody loves to do lunges, but what happens when lunges are just too hard? The lunge is a dynamic exercise whether they’re forward, backward, or in place. They require appropriate balance, strength, and mobility especially with respect to hips. Lunges are a great single leg exercise when you’ve worked up to being able to perform one correctly, but never where I would start someone. The split squat is a great exercise that will help you gain balance in a split stance, strength, and improve mobility. As mentioned, these are all the things required in order to perform a lunge, so split squats are a great regression that will set you up for success when you progress to lunges. Check them out!

Split Squat

Getting set-up

1. Setting up

Start with both knees on the ground with one in front of the other. The back thigh should be in straight vertical line forming a 90 degree angle with toes down and heel up. The front shin should be in a straight vertical line as well, forming a 90 degree angle with front foot flat on the ground. Push through the center of the front foot to stand up stall straightening the front leg and remaining on the balls of your feet on the back straight leg.  This is the starting position.

Performing it

1.Lowering down

Slowly lower yourself down bending both the front knee and back knee making sure to maintain a tall spine. Don’t lean forward or back, lower straight down until the back knee contacts the ground gently.

2.Standing up

Forcefully push through the center of your front foot and stand up all the way until your front leg is completely straight. Stay on the balls of your back foot. Complete all your repetitions on this side and switch lead legs making sure to do the same amount you just did on that side.

 

Things to focus on:

*Staying tall without excessive leaning

*Maintaining square hips

*Push through front foot while squeezing back glute

*Lower all the way down and come all the way up

 

 

~Have an idea for the exercise of the week? Comment and let me know!

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