Archive for November, 2008

Warming up for weight training

Posted: November 18, 2008 in Training

Without fail people come into the gym and do the same exact thing before lifting weights.  They hop on the treadmill for their daily 5-10 minute aerobic warm-up.  This is fine, actually.  Getting the blood flowing and physically warming up the body on various levels is a fine idea.  They then proceed to static stretching where they stretch various muscles to their end ranges of motion and hold for a count, usually 30 seconds or so. 

 

Static stretching has it’s place in your programming.  Statically stretching your body before lifting weights happens to be the wrong place for it though.

 

If you’re going to be training dynamically, meaning you’re going to be exerting force with your muscles through full ranges of motion against movable objects, you might consider warming up dynamically.  Dynamic stretching has been quite the buzzword as of late and for good reason.  Heck, even the NY Times is hopping on the bandwagon!

 

Research is also painting a pretty picture for dyanmic vs. static stretching pre-performance as noted here and here as example.

 

So what’s the deal?  Why should you consider dynamic warm-ups?

 

Well here’s a short list for you to ponder:

 

1.  Static stretching where you slowly, passively stretch a muscle until it relaxes (which is commonly done pre-training) appears to increase muscle/connective tissue compliance with a reduction in excitation from the nervous system.

 

2.  Think of the above like this:  Static stretching tends to overly loosen the muscle.  The muscle actually loses it’s stiffness and when you couple this with the reduced nueral activation you lose ability to generate force.  A lesser ability to generate force doesn’t sound like something you’d want to have happen before you lift weights, does it?

 

3.  Dynamically warming up elevates the body’s temperature much better than static stretching, which should be obvious given the fact in the former you’re moving and in the latter you’re not.

 

4.  Some suggest dynamic mobiltiy exercises in warm-up better prepare you mind-body link for movements.  You’re going to be moving a lot when you exercise and a dynamic warm-up is a nice initiation or rehearsal for that upcoming bout.

 

5.  Force production has been shown to actually increase with dynamic stretching.

 

The list goes on.  Depending on where you get your information, dynamic stretching is the rave.  However, in the local gym scene near us, we don’t see much of it as noted above.  Don’t fall victim to ‘following the trend” and don’t be afraid of trying new things in the gym.  The programs, form of execution, warm-ups and the overall attitude of the majority of gym patrons flat out stink.  If ‘the masses’ look at you strangely when you’re trying some of the exercises highlighted below, take it as a compliment.

 

Warming up properly is a critical component in weight training and injury prevention.  Next time you’re in the gym, toy around with some of these basic, dynamic movements.  A couple of sets in the 10-12 rep range should be more than plenty.

 

CAT-CAMEL STRETCH – A great movement for priming the spine for movement and stability.

 

 

SUPINE BRIDGE – Excellent movement for activating the glutes and readying your hips for extension.

 

 

FRONT & SIDE LEG SWINGS – Another great movement for opening up your hips and activating Tthe prime movers in your legs.

 

 

 

WALL SLIDES – This movement is great for loosening muscles that are commonly tight and increasing mobility of the shoulder complex.

 

 

This is by no means a complete list, rather a few simple movements that carry a high return on investment.  We are busily working on building out our exercise database which currently houses over 80 videos.  We hope to have a few hundred by the time we’re said and done.

 

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Jared…

Posted: November 8, 2008 in Random Blurbs

I wrote this last year after losing a dear friend of mine in a car accident.  It was circulated around a few Internet communities and quite a few people were able to take something positive from it.  I figured I’d share it here in the blog.

***

jared

Last week, I lost a dear friend.  Jared was killed in a car accident last Tuesday at the age of 26. Some would say Jared died far too young. I would argue, life is measured not by the number of breaths we take, but rather, it is measured by the moments that take our breath away. This may seem cliché, but it is very true in my opinion.

Some can live to an old age, and never truly live a day in their lives. Some can die at the age of 26, and live every single day to its fullest. They suck life from what they have in front of them. In a nutshell, life is what you make of it. You can sit around and wait for good things to come to you or you can go and take what you want and deserve. 

I speak with a lot of people. I like to figure out what makes them tick. By no means am I an expert on the subject of human behavior. Simply, I just like to think about what I see. Conclusions are derived from my observations and interactions. These conclusions may not be right. They may not be wrong. But it is my judgment based on the empirical evidence that has been presented to me in my life, thus far. Ultimately, the people who I’ve let into my life have shaped my perspectives.

Everyone wants to be happy, right? I mean, I haven’t met anyone who said, “It is my goal to be miserable for the rest of my life.” That said, this idea of happiness must be pretty darned important if we all want it. So how do we get it? Is it ultimately linked to achievement? Is it a state of mind? If so, can we be happy no matter what the circumstance? Is it a trait, some people being prone to happiness and others to the opposite? More importantly, how does this tie into Jared’s death and my point?

I used to envy people. Not necessarily the people I know personally. I would envy the people who achieved “greatness.” You know the people. Famous movie stars and singers. Professional athletes. CEOs of fortune 500 companies. I would envy them so much that I would discredit their successes. 

“He became a movie star by catching a lucky break.” “This bodybuilder created an awing physique because he took steroids. I could look like him too if I chose that route.” “He became CEO by kissing ass his entire life, no thanks, that is not for me.” 

I used to envy these people because I thought they were ultimately happy. Not only did I want happiness. I also wanted to be great. I wanted people to respect me. Maybe I even wanted people to envy me. Eventually, I removed my blinders and realized that while these people were certainly wealthy and respected, they were not all, ultimately happy. They too, faced challenges on a daily basis. 

More importantly, I eventually realized that my definition of “greatness” was way off base. Greatness is not measured by how others view you. Instead, greatness is completely personal and individual. By my old standards, in order to be great, you would have to have money, be a standout, and be recognized. Through the maturation process coupled with my interactions with many amazing people, I learned that greatness has nothing to do with these things. Instead, greatness is all about how you live. It is about the choices you make. It is about how you handle yourself when you are knocked down. Greatness is not an adjective that is placed over you once you reach a certain point in your life. It is rather, a way of life. A way to be, each and every day.

Jared was one of those people who helped me realize these things. Sure, he died young. But Jared was great. And Jared was happy. There is something in common with most of the people I hold close to my heart, Jared being one of them. Obviously, none of them are famous. None of them are really wealthy either. But they are all “great” by my personal definition.

What makes them great?

Take Jared for instance. As I was walking through the line waiting to say my goodbyes at his funeral, I looked at all the pictures of Jared. I thought about all the good times I shared with him. I looked around and saw how many people he touched. The line to the casket was a good distance. I would approximate the length of a football field. It stretched from the casket, out the door of the church, across the lobby, all the way across the large parking lot. The line developed at 9:00 A.M. At 12:30 P.M., there was no sign of the line shrinking. Finally, the preacher had to ask the family to sit down, and cut the line off. The service was about to begin and there were 3 people for every 1 seat available. 

Jared was great alright. As I thought about him, I had such a hard time remembering a time when Jared DIDN’T have a smile on his face. Not one of those fake smiles either. He smiled because he couldn’t contain his happiness. If we were fishing, he was happy. Even if it was cold outside, and the rain started falling. Jared would be happy. And it radiated from him. Happiness is definitely contagious. Because when I was in his company, I always felt happy. I also think happiness begets more happiness in most circumstances. Whatever Jared was doing, he found a way to be happy. 

People like him led me to believe that happiness is not brought on by what you are currently doing. Rather, it is brought on by how YOU feel about where you’ve been and where you are heading. It is brought on by who you’ve met and who you have yet to meet. It is brought on by the memories of your past and the possibilities of the future. 

Happiness is about believing. Believing in yourself and not letting your mistakes, flaws, and challenges stop you from progressing.

You see, many people think I am happy. They look at my life, the things I have accomplished, the way I act…. and they think I am happy. The truth is, I battle personally, to find happiness in life. 

The biggest thing I have learned from people like Jared is this: Life is full of happiness. It is also full of unhappiness. Life is beautiful. Life is also ugly. There are and always will be good times. At the same time, there will always be bad ones. 

The bad things will always be there, no matter how much you achieve in your life. I don’t care if you are working your way up or if you are at your pinnacle. The nature of life dictates that evil will always accompany good. 

This said, it should be expected that we will ALL get knocked down. It is up to you to decide if and how you will get back up. Being knocked down is a whole lot different than being knocked out. Jared would say, “Being knocked out will only happen when my heart stops beating.” If he were knocked down by life, he would ALWAYS get up with haste and heart, and push on. 

Others though, feel they are knocked out now, even though their hearts are pumping away. 

What differentiates people like this from people like Jared? I think it all comes down to focus. I don’t want this to be a motivational, peppy, self-help article. Those who know me are aware of the fact that I am a fan of positive thinking. I believe that gaining control of your self-talk plays a major role in your ultimate success in life. 

People like Jared, either by nature or by practice, focus on the good. When life knocks them down, they don’t focus on how hard or violently they were knocked down. Doing so would only lead to stagnation. Instead, they regain their composure, and focus on where they were heading before they were knocked down. When someone dies, they don’t think how tragic their death is. Rather, they remember how awesome their life was. When it rains, they don’t get depressed. They say, “At least it isn’t pouring, and the sun will surely shine tomorrow.” 

On the flipside, when things are good, they don’t worry about the good times ending. They embrace the time. I know a lot of people who ruin the momentum of goodness by worrying about the imminent bad that is ever-looming in all of our lives. Even during the good times, it all comes down to how and where you place your focus.

That is the finality of the subject at hand. Happiness. Greatness. At least in my eyes, these things are determined by how you handle yourself during both, the good and bad times.

I come to this point of writing this, and I ask myself, “What is my point?” I didn’t really intend on writing a lot. I didn’t start writing this with a purpose. I just had thoughts, a lot of them, floating around my head and I wanted to get them down on paper. Whenever you experience a tragic loss, I think you take something away from it. Maybe it is a lesson. Or, maybe it is amazing memories. Whatever the case may be, I think it is good to take something away from losing a loved one.

In this case, what I took away was the simple thought that happiness is a way of life. A way of being. It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the negatives that float around on any given day. I think these negatives are what hinder most of us from ever reaching happiness on a consistent basis. It is probably also what keeps us from reaching our full potential. 

I think chronic happiness and greatness come hand in hand. Once you find a way to be happy with your life, the decisions you have made, and what you are doing to get to where you are going…. I think you will find your personal greatness. And that greatness will be seen from outsiders looking in.

It is up to you to figure out what you want. I know what I want, and I am going to work my ass off to get it. I am not going to plan for failure. I am, though, going to keep in mind that I will fail. I will have setbacks. I will get knocked down. I cannot allow acute mishaps to rock my world to its core completely throwing me off track. I want chronic happiness. I know what it takes to have it, and Jared’s death has helped me see it. 

I wish you all the best. I hope you find your happiness, more than you know. We all deserve it.

Steve Troutman

Hawaii and some thoughts

Posted: November 5, 2008 in Random Blurbs

Just to one up Steve…while he was hiking the Delaware Water Gap in East Stroudsburg I was lucky enough to hike the great, dormant volcano of Haleakala in Maui last week.  The volcano stands a little over 10,000 feet and boasts one of the best views of a sunrise in existence. My fiancé, my long time training client, and his friend, Joel, joined me for the exploratory hike.

img_2328

img_2281

It was very cool to hike with Gary, my client. He’ll probably kill me for sharing this, but his life is inspiring and I’m proud of how far he has come.  In addition, I really wanted to rub it in Steve’s face that I was in Maui without him.  Anyone who knows Steve knows Maui is where he wants to be 24/7.

We hiked a total of 12 miles, 6 down and 6 back up.  I was impressed Gary hung with me the entire time (although I kicked his butt in surfing!).

img_2112

Gary has been training with me a little over 3 years now and has made leaps and bounds with regards to weight loss, strength and life style change. This is a man who was once over 300lbs.  He’s now under 200 and 15% body fat.  Much to my amazement he is starting to get stronger than me (which I will not allow). 

Little does he know but we’re about to switch his programming up.  No more strength training; we’re going to sign him up for some ‘pumping and toning’ or step classes. I mean, what else am I supposed to do when one of my clients is starting to get stronger than me? 

Just kidding Gary!

How did Gary get to the place he is at right now? How did he go from being 300+ lbs to not only hiking, but hanging with his trainer’s pace on some pretty crazy terrain?

img_2337 

Fitness and health goals are one of the hardest things to accomplish in life. It’s not that we don’t know how or what to do.  It has more to do with breaking addictions and bad habits.  As Steve always says, it’s about finding ways to maintain consistency that’s tricky.

One thing that many people forget is structure.  In the last blog post Steve discussed things to keep in mind when you’re not following your structured program.  His comments, though simple, are something a lot of people seem to forget easily.  On the flipside though, winging it is not the solution more often than not.

Every goal in life that you have must have a plan.  If you were going to start your own business would you jump headfirst or would you start by brainstorming with pen and paper?

We are huge advocates of writing and that’s one factor that helped Gary maintain consistency, which fueled his success. Our clients who spend time maintaining a journal, writing down their thoughts, keeping a food journal, planning out their exercise in a gym log, etc. are the ones who are able to maintain consistency the best.  Something about putting pen to paper really solidifies the reality of it all.  It allows you to capture your thoughts and take an outside-in view of what’s really happening with your life.  Without addressing things from this angle, it’s extremely easy to let habit set in and learning from mistakes becomes very difficult.

If you’re not making the progress you had hoped for, ask yourself, “Am I doing enough self analysis of my thoughts and my actions relating to fitness?”  Some of our clients have equated journaling/logging to “turning on the light in their lives.” 

Needless to say, there are so many seemingly simple steps people overlook that, if implemented or taken, can have profound impacts.

Each of our online clients receives a training log.  In it the exercise variables are outlined that the client will do from week to week.  These variables include exercise selection, sets and reps, intensity, duration, general thoughts, etc.

picture-41

This ensures they’re never going into a training session without a general plan of action and that plan of action builds upon where they left off in the last session.  This guarantees progress and continuity.  Also, nothing beats looking back over a year’s worth of logging and seeing how far you’ve come. 

This journal keeps you motivated and committed to your goals.  It is a source of accountability.  In my mind, it’s a must.

 

I wanted to take a brief moment to extend a huge congrats and thanks to the Philadelphia Phillies who brought home our city’s first baseball championship since 1980 (the first since I’ve been alive). Many believe Philadelphia is victim to ‘The Curse of Billy Penn.’ Legend has it, based upon an agreement, no building was to be built higher than the statue of William Penn, which resides on top of City Hall.  In 1987, however, this agreement was broken when One Liberty Place was erected.   Since 1983 when the Sixers won, no sports team in Philadelphia has brought home a championship; not the Sixers, not the Phillies, not the Flyers, and certainly not the Eagles.   

Thanks to the ever-powerful Comcast Corp., they added a massive skyscraper to the Philadelphia skyline in 2007, constructing the highest building in the city.  Interestingly, they added a small statue of William Penn at the top in hopes of appeasing the ghost of good ole’ Billy Penn.  Much to the city’s surprise, it worked!

The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays to bring home the first championship to the city in 25 years.

I was fortunate enough to venture into the city this past Friday, along with 3 million others, to spectate the parade.  It was quite an experience; I’ve never seen that many people in such a small area before.  Needless to say there was a lot of beer drinking, screaming and rowdiness.  The police did an exceptional job at maintaining the peace and civility however… hats off to them.  

Let’s hope the Eagles can pull off a miracle this season.  They just overrode the Dallas Cowpies (I mean Cowboys) for 3rd place in the division.  

Here are a few pics of the parade last Friday.

Nobody can say it better than Philadelphia’s second baseman, Chase Ultey, when he addressed the crowd at Citizen’s Bank Park after the parade which left the commentators speechless.

Way to go Phils!