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Training

Movement Tip: Band Quadruped Leg Extension w/Lateral Challenge

Today’s movement prep exercise is awesome for not only activating the muscles surrounding the hips, but also the entire core system! The lateral resistance challenge from the band makes this a lot like a Palloff Press but with your leg instead of arms. Here is how to do it:

-Focus on your frame. While the movement and challenge from the band is with your leg, the stability of your frame is where the magic is happening. Although you will feel the band tensioning the leg you extend, the muscles of the core and stabilizing hip need to anchor and work equally as hard if not harder to provide the proper base of support for that extending leg to leverage off of and perform the motion.

-To create a strong frame your points of contact with the ground must be firm. Spread your fingers apart providing greater surface area for a larger base of support and use those fingers to grip into the ground as well. Activating those intrinsic hand muscles also generates more wrist support and space in the joints for pain free wrists! The knee that you will be posting on is equally important. Make sure it is comfortable and well grounded.

-Anchor a large loop band to a stable post about knee height when standing. Loop the free end around the mid-foot of the leg that you will be extending.

-Facing sideways to the anchor point at a distance where band tension is appropriate for you, start on hands & knees with shoulders stacked over hands & hips stacked over knees with neutral spine. Think of being long from the crown of your head down to your tail bone and scooping your shoulder blades and filling up your mid-back to create proper stability through your shoulders.

-With an engaged cinched core keeping hips and shoulders square with one another and the ground, slowly extend the leg with the band around it while resisting the lateral tension keeping it inline with body. Move with purpose and think of placing your leg where it needs to be.

-Extend the leg so that it is aligned with your torso height and hip. Hold for the specified time before slowly returning to start position and repeating.

-Complete a full set with your weaker side first before switching.

My preferred variables for this movement are 1-3 sets, 3-6 reps/side with 5-10 second holds at the end range. Enjoy!

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Perspectives Training

2 Key Points for a Solid Push-Up

I could rant on about a few things when it comes to the push-up, but I’ll choose two key points that I believe to have the greatest overall impact.

 

Core Stability – Everyone knows they need to “strengthen their core,” but few do.  This is by far where I see the biggest breakdown in push-up form and the cascade effect of a weak core will result in poor biomechanics everywhere else.  You shoulder hurts when you do a push-up?  It’s probably because your core wasn’t strong enough to support the variation you were attempting.  Work on core strength and stability first and choose a push-up regression that allows you to promote proper engagement and sequencing of your core at a difficulty level that you are actually capable of.

 

Points of Contact – I find this to be one of the most overlooked areas with any exercise.  Your points of contact are arguably the most import aspect of any exercise.  They anchor you to the external object that you are leveraging off of and transferring force through.  If you do not have solid contact your are giving away leverage and therefore strength.

 

With the push-up the main contact points are your hands.  If performing a push-up on the floor, spread those fingers apart and create as large a surface area.  The larger your contact surface is on your base of support, the greater your stability, feedback loop and force transfer will be, giving you more strength.  Whether you are gripping a bar or using the floor, use the muscles in your hands!  You need to have an active base.  Your wrists hurt when you do a push-up?  There’s a good chance you’re not using the muscles in your hands and wrists that provide support and create small space cushions around those joints.  Actively squeeze into the ground with those fingers and hands, or if on a bar, crush it.  Not only will this help protect your joints, the radiation effect of engaging those muscles will increase your overall strength in the movement.

Make sure your feet are well anchored as well.  They are another contact point and your body will leverage from them as well.

 

My favorite push-up regression is the incline push-up.  The incline can be adjusted to any level to make the movement achievable for all with out shortening levers such as with a bent knee push-up.  This promotes learning to engage your body and move it as an entire unit, maximizing the safety and effectiveness of the movement.

 

How to perform the push-up:

  • Whether on an incline, decline or the floor, start in a front support (straight arm plank) position on toes, with hands slightly wider than shoulder width and inline with shoulders.
  • Fingers should be spread apart to create more surface area while actively engaging hand and forearm muscles.
  • Head shoulders and hips should be in a neutral aligned position squared up with one another. Picture as steel rod going through your body from head to toe. Squeeze thighs, glutes and abdominals thinking of holding in your poo and pee.
  • Fill-up mid-back by driving hands through the floor, scooping your shoulder blades and slightly corkscrewing them into the ground by thinking of turning your hands out.
  • Initiate movement by thinking of actively pulling your torso toward the ground allowing elbows to bend. Head, shoulders and hips must stay aligned and all move together as one unit.
  • Lower until chest touches the ground or object you are on.
  • Drive hands through the ground maintaining tight body position returning to start.
  • If you cannot get your chest down to your target object, you are performing a variation that is too difficult for your current level. Squash your ego and regress the movement so that you can perform it properly and then as you get stronger, slowly increase the difficulty.

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Lifestyle Perspectives Training

Knee Pain? Do this! Front Foot Elevated Split Squat

The full range split squat is one of my favorite lower body movements and even more so when the modification of elevating the front foot is added.  If you experience knee pain, this modification might be an easy fix that allows you to keep your joint moving and strengthen the surrounding muscles to help improve its alignment and stability and alleviate some of that pain.

 

We live in “use it or lose it” bodies and brains.  Numerous studies have shown that when we cease to use our muscles and joints in certain patterns, the ability to perform those patterns diminishes, the same happens with the neuroplasticity of the brain.  That is why it is so important to keep moving and practice full movement patterns.

 

When we move our joints, a lubricating fluid is produced that helps keep them healthy and nourished.  Without movement, this fluid becomes absent and the joints will become stiff, immobile and possibly achy.  This is another reason why joints need to move.

 

Knee pain is often the result of an alignment issue causing excessive friction to the structures surrounding and/or within the joint.  One of the common areas where pain is felt in the knee is under or around the knee cap.  This pain often flares up with activities that produce a forward and down force, such as walking down stairs.  When the knee bends under this kind of pressure, the thigh bone glides forward creating greater tension on the tendons and ligaments surrounding the kneecap and on the cap itself.  If these structures are already exasperated due to another mechanical issue, this simple motion will cause pain.

 

We learned above that movement is important to maintain and restore joint health.  But we don’t want the movement to cause pain.  We need to modify the movement in order to achieve the results we are looking for.

 

The split squat incorporates multiple joints and muscles all important to knee health as well as challenges balance and proprioception.  Its functional carry over is undeniable.  But sore knees don’t like this movement pattern unless we add elevation to that front foot to distribute the load and force appropriately.

 

This video provides a quick overview of why we might elevate the front foot for the split squat and how to perform it properly.

 

Hopefully, you find these tips helpful.  Thanks for watching!

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Lifestyle Nutrition Perspectives

Recipe: Chicken Dumpling Soup

Sustainable healthy eating habits rely on good eating, and good eating means good cooking.  Unless, you have your own personal chef, you need to learn how to cook and make it taste great!

 

Many of us will not get a better opportunity than now to hone our cooking skills and learn some new recipes to add to the arsenal.  The excuse of, “I just don’t have the time,” is out the window here. (Written during the COVID-19 isolation.)  A lot of us have all of the time right now, so why not put it to good use and learn something that will help carry you through life.

 

This is a chicken dumpling soup.  I can tell you what’s in it, but the measurements will be poor because I cook like my mother and just throw things in by feel. Lol!  So, if you’re attempting this, use your taste buds and test to see if it’s to your liking.

 

Rough measurements:

2 Tbsp - butter

½ cup of each – Onions, carrot, celery

½ a shallot

1 Tbsp of each (but probably more) minced garlic, minced ginger root

2 tsp. lemon juice

1 bay leaf

Sprig of Thyme

2 tsp. of each – curry powder, turmeric

1 tsp. cumin

**I probably use more of the spices than what I listed here, but this is a good start point for most.

1-2 Tbsp’s of chopped parsley & cilantro

6-7 skinless boneless chicken thighs cubed

1 to 1 ½ cups of cubed potatoes

1 to 1 ¼ litres of chicken or vegetable stock

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Dumplings

1 cup of all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp salt

1 tbsp. butter

½ cup milk

 

Melt butter in a large pot.  Saute onions, carrot, celery, shallot until softened. Add garlic & ginger, mix in and cook for about 1-2 mins.  Add bay leaf, thyme, stir in.  Add chicken, mix in and cook about 2 mins, add spices, salt pepper and lemon juice and mix in and cook until chicken looks cooked through.  Add potatoes, parsley & cilantro, stir in.  Add chicken or vegetable stock.  Bring to boil and cook until potatoes cook through.  I spoon out some potatoes and broth at this point and puree them and pour it back in to thicken the soup broth.  For the dumplings, mix together flour, baking powder, sugar, salt.  Melt butter and slowly mix it in to dry mix until it becomes crumbly.  Add milk and mix into a batter.  Spoon out dollops into boiling soup and cover at let cook at low for about 10 mins.  All done!

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Lifestyle Training

8 No Equipment Hacks to get your Back Jacked

Need a killer back workout but don't have any equipment or access to gym? No problem!

This video provides no equipment home exercise solutions to get your back jacked! Gravity is a powerful form of resistance. Proper leveraging of your body weight with gravity can provide just as much muscle building stimulus as working with weights. We provide exercises for your lats, mid-back and lower back muscles as well as give you a free workout using the exercises shown in the video. The suggestions in this video range from beginner to advanced and will provide a challenging workout with zero equipment for anyone. If you find this video helpful, please subscribe to my YouTube channel, hit the like button and let us know! For customized training programs, video suggestions or inquires please contact us.

Have something you want me to make a video about? Let me know.

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Lifestyle Training

Free Follow Along Workouts

Amidst all the crazy COVID-19 stuff going on, a couple of my colleagues and I put together some free follow along workout videos to help keep you moving and healthy.  Please share this content with your friends and stay safe and healthy! I hope this finds you well. Enjoy!

Hip Mobility

Lower Body

Upper Body

Pilates with Lisa

Pilates with Anne

Fight Fit with Rob

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Lifestyle Perspectives Training

Successful Changes often take a Paradigm Shift

In making a change that is permanent it’s important to appreciate the small changes that accumulate.  Hitting a home run is always nice, but most games are won by the successive accumulation of base hits. A strategy to keep in mind is to ask yourself what is just a little bit better or a little bit worse than what I’m currently doing now.  In other words, how can you get on base?  An example might be taking an elevator to go up 1 or 2 stories at your condo or work versus taking the stairs to add more movement into your day.  Many people will hear this advice and feel that they need to immediately start taking the stairs every day.  If they miss a day, they feel that they’ve failed, which leads to discouragement and giving up just as fast as you started.  This is an all or nothing mindset that nine times out of ten leads back to where you started.  A shift in perspective needs to happen where you can appreciate the success of making it up the stairs for 4 of those 5 days.  In truth if you make it up those stairs only once during that week, that’s a BIG win because it’s better than what you were doing previously.  You got on base!  This shift in mentality can keep you driven and accumulating the habits required to lead you to your desired outcome.

 

You’re not going to reach your big picture goal overnight or even in a couple of months, so throw those expectations out the window and appreciate and celebrate the small gains achieved over time.  You’re sculpting a masterpiece out of stone.  You won’t see even hints of the final product after only a few chiseled pieces.  It takes hard work, time, patience and the accumulation of many chiseled pieces slowly being removed to shape your work of art.  While some days it may not seem like you’re making a lot of progress, as long as you’re still chipping away changes are occurring.  Sometimes you might need to take a few steps back and change your viewpoint to realize how far you have come.  It’s not as easy as working with Play-Doh, but a stone sculpture will last.

 

Change that sticks comes best from within.  A teacher or coach might be able to plant a seed, give you some suggestions on where to start and provide guidance to streamline the process and keep you moving forward, but the solutions that stick best are the ones that come from within.

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Training

Movement Tip: Get More Out Of Your Hip Flexor Stretch

Tight hip flexors are common these days.  Here’s how to get more out of your hip flexor stretching.

We’re going to use a PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) technique, also known as MET (muscle energy technique).  Some benefits of using this over a passive stretch are:

  • Getting a deeper stretch
  • Building a neuromuscular connection
  • Creating mobility, not just flexibility
  • Longer lasting effect

How does this work?  By using a submaximal contraction of the same muscle we are stretching followed by the stretch itself, we can take advantage of a response called autogenic inhibition.  Without getting into the fancy terminology, this basically creates a relaxion response that allows us to sink a little deeper into the stretch.  By contracting the muscle in the lengthened position we’re creating neural pathways that let the brain and body know we can use this muscle in this lengthened state.  Knowing we can use the muscle begins to create a new range of motion that you can build control with.  Control of your flexibility is mobility.  This gives you a longer lasting effect.

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Perspectives Training Uncategorized

Movement Tip: Isometric Low Range Squat

Isometrics can be a great way to strengthen weaknesses throughout a range of motion in a movement.

In this example I’m using an assisted low range isometric squat, but you can take the principle and apply it to anything.  Use that pause to connect with your muscles and feel what’s working, what’s not, what should be.  Take the time while in that pause to figure it out and get everything responding the way it should be and then groove it proper.  You’re only as strong as your weakest link, so find it and strengthen it.

I’ll typically start people between 2-3 sets of 3-6 reps with 5-6 second pauses per rep.  I like this for slowing down mechanics and working on grooving proper patterns.

I’ve found this exercise to be an excellent way to get people comfortable with the bottom position of a squat. (Note:  Make sure the range of motion is there first.)

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Lifestyle Perspectives Uncategorized

Sleep Well with S.E.L.F. Correction

Rest and recovery are often undervalued components when it comes to fitness and achieving performance goals.  Many people feel that they need to do more in order to achieve more, which may be true if you’re currently not doing much, but if you’re already grinding away, then doing more is often not the answer.  Quality restoration is crucial to optimize performance and so I’d like to share some of the highlights and strategies that I found valuable from Eoin Lacey’s presentation on Sleep at the 2018 SWIS Symposium interlaced with some of my own findings on the topic.

Your body rests in cycles as you sleep and there are 4 stages within a sleep cycle.  There used to be 5 stages, but recently stages 3 and 4 have been lumped together as researchers have stated that there were no physiological changes between the two stages to necessitate having two different stages.   Each cycle can last from 90 to 120 minutes in length.

Stage 1 – Is usually the shortest stage lasting from 5-15 minutes where your eyes are closed, but you can still be easily awakened.

Stage 2 – Is a little longer in length than stage 1, but your body temperature and heart rate starts to drop along with a reduction in muscle tone as your body prepares for deep sleep.

Stage 3 – Is usually the longest stage where you are in a deep sleep.  In this stage physical restoration such as tissue repairs occur along with strengthening of the immune system.  If you were to be awakened during this stage, you would feel a little disoriented and groggy.

Stage 4 (REM Sleep) – REM stands for” rapid eye movement” and happens around the 90-minute mark of the sleep cycle.  In the first cycle it usually lasts about 10 minutes but increases with each successive cycle of uninterrupted sleep.  During your final sleep cycle REM sleep may last up to 1 hour.  The REM stage is where you may experience intense dreams as your brain is the most active during this phase of sleep causing the rapid eye movements.  Heart rate and breathing quickens along with an increase in oxygen consumption by the brain.  This stage is thought to be the most restorative stage for our brain and central nervous system.  While some may use alcohol to aid in falling asleep, it interferes with the body’s ability to achieve REM sleep and will reduce your overall REM sleep.

Ideally, we would like to get between 3-5 uninterrupted sleep cycles each night.  That’s about the popular 7-9 hours we’re accustom to hearing, but 1-2 hours should be a deep REM sleep.  According to studies, most people get about 60% of the sleep they need for optimal functioning.  Most of us are going through our daily activities only having a 60% recharge!  Most of us don’t like leaving for work in the morning with a cellphone that’s only got 60% of a recharge, yet we do this with our body and mind regularly.  If you consider that studies revealed that people who suffer from sleep apnea are 3 times more likely to develop diabetes and 23 times more likely to have a heart attack, that drives home the importance of getting proper restorative sleep.

So how can we improve our sleep at night?  There’s an array of tips out there for what is known as Sleep Hygiene that we’re familiar with such as sleeping in complete darkness, set a cooler temperature, avoid caffeine 6 hours before bedtime, reduce blue light exposure, etc.  While many of these tips have been shown to help, they are usually part of a wind down routine performed close to bedtime.  But it’s what you do upon waking in the morning and your habits throughout the day that have a greater impact on how you sleep at night.

S.E.L.F. Correction is an approach that might be of greater value, especially if these habits are stacked with good Sleep Hygiene.  Before I break down the S.E.L.F. acronym, I’m going to quickly explain the hormone cortisol because it is mentioned a few times throughout the S.E.L.F. Correction approach.

Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal glands and released into your bloodstream.  It helps with many of the body’s functions including the control of blood sugar levels, metabolism regulation, blood pressure, helps reduce inflammation and assist with memory formulation.  It is a crucial hormone for wellbeing.  It has a bad rap as it is well known as being the “stress” hormone.  There’s a lot of articles about lowering your cortisol levels, but we absolutely need cortisol for proper balance.  The problem comes when we secrete too much cortisol too often and have sustained high levels.  Sustained stress is one of the top culprits for that happening, which causes the release of too much cortisol as our body tries to combat the stress.  Cortisol is trying to help us, it’s not the bad guy.  We want to lower stress to properly balance our cortisol secretion.  That generally means a lifestyle shift that involves less stress.  Proper sleep habits and S.E.L.F. Correction can help with this by boosting cortisol when it’s supposed to be high and having it taper throughout the day.

Here’s what S.E.L.F. stands for:

Social stimulation – within your first hour of waking, interact with someone or people.  Whether it be your partner, children, possibly even some emails if you can’t be face to face with a real person.  Social stimulus boosts cortisol levels which is what you want in the morning to feel awake.  As the day goes on cortisol levels should taper down as adenosine (sleep drive) levels rise toward the evening.

Exercise – get moving sooner than later upon waking.  There is a post exercise spike in cortisol levels which will contribute to that wakefulness, not to mention increased circulation and the array of other health benefits exercise has to offer.

Light – natural light is preferred, but light first thing in the morning will help shut down melatonin and boost cortisol levels to wake your body up keeping your circadian clock on a healthy sleep/wake cycle.  It’s recommended to get at least 1000 lux of light in the eyes for about 20 minutes upon waking.  (This does not mean stare at the sun.  Please do not do that.  You will go blind.)  1000 lux is comparable to an overcast day.

Food – What you eat and when you eat it throughout the day will affect cortisol levels and mood.  Food creates stimulation in your body so eating breakfast and consuming the majority of what you will eat throughout the day earlier on will help make winding down at the end of the day easier.  Foods such as legumes, lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts, leafy greens and colorful vegetables, whole grains, dairy, lower sugar level fruits such as berries, and healthy fats are good options for breakfast and early day meals to help boost morning cortisol.  Starchy carbs boost adenosine and serotonin levels and actually help you wind down, which is one of the reasons why you feel nice and lethargic after eating meals with a high carbohydrate content.  I can sum this up as saying eat balanced meals comprised of real food, don’t get crazy with extremes.

I hope that you have found this information useful!