2018 Winter Chalkboard Challenge

Each season at Active Life Conditioning we do something called the Chalkboard Challenge.  Basically, we layout a physical challenge of some sort, and the participant with the highest score/lowest time or whatever metric we are using for that challenge gets their name on the chalkboard.  We divide the population into age divisions such as 20-29, 30-30, 40-49 etc.  We try to create something that is usually doable for all levels of fitness as you work within your limits and do the best you can.  Only the top dog for each division gets posted so you’re just competing with yourself.  It’s also a fun little baseline test, as you can retest the challenge at the end of the season, to see your progress.

We try and include everyone at Active Life and so I thought it would be a fun idea to extend this challenge to all of you too.  To be sure that you’re doing the challenge properly I would ask that you submit a video of you completing the challenge and your age.  For this season’s challenge, it only takes 2 minutes.  I’ll post top times in this blog but leave names out for privacy purposes.

Ready the challenge?  This season we chose something basic and explosive to challenge some agility and the anaerobic A-lactic energy system.  We have two exercises with a 30 second time cap where you perform as much as you can within the 30 seconds.  One exercise will favor your shorter limb and stature body type, and the other you longer limb and taller body type, to try and keep things relatively fair.  I must thank coaches Katie Hamilton and Sarah Applegarth for collaborating with me on this one!  Here are the instructions:

30 Seconds Straddle Hops + 30 Seconds Row

  1. 30 seconds straddle hops – (bum must touch step and you must hop or step on to box and stand up tall at the top)
  2. 1 minute rest
  3. 30 second row for total meters
  4. Calculate total score. The number of straddle hops, plus the number of meters equals your score for this challenge.
  • If you retest, do the exercises in the same order that they are written.
  • Set up the rowers to count down 30 seconds.

Here is a video reference for you to see the form we are looking for.  Le me know how it goes, and enjoy!  This little challenge might also be used as a fun little finisher for those of you that like that little burst at the end of a workout!

Happy New Year! – Update on what’s in store for 2018

I hope that everyone has enjoyed their holiday season and had the opportunity to relax and/or spend some time with loved ones!

It’s been forever since I’ve written a post or update, and moving forward I will make this a regular practice. So, here’s what’s going down…

2017 was a very transitional year for Custom-Fit Wellness as I was testing waters in different areas and locations before deciding where to set-up roots for both my personal and professional life. This website ended up being pushed to the bottom of my priority list during the shuffle, but for 2018 it will slowly become a main hub, so be sure to check in occasionally for new posts, articles and videos relating to fitness and lifestyle.

Over the holidays I was caught in between homes for a few weeks while moving into my new home which has set back my plans a little, however in the next couple of months here’s what you can expect. Custom-Fit Wellness will be launching an online coaching program that will provide customized programming, support, accountability and independence. The system will work with a free training App on either iPhone or Android where your customized programming, notes, and video demonstrations will show up. As you train, fill in your work within the App as you go. I can monitor your progress in real-time, but more importantly, your results will be automatically reported and charted. This makes it possible for me to adjust the program on the fly ensuring no wasted workouts so that you get the most out of every workout. In addition, my App integrates with MyFitnessPal which is a food tracking software, and Fit Bit software. You can enter in what you eat, and I’ll get reports on your nutrition intake and be able to make recommendations there as well.

This will hopefully be ready to roll by mid-February, so check in then if you are interested or send me a quick note for inquires. I will slowly be adding to this website over the next month including more information about this new service.

Thank you all for your patience and loyalty, and I wish you all the best for 2018!
-Gavin

Seated Muscle-Up Demo

Here’s a quick Instagram post…

Muscle-ups from a seated position are an excellent variation when space is limited.  It also forces strict form which is safer and more beneficial.  Most people break down the muscle-up as being just a pull-up and then a dip neglecting the most crucial part of the movement being the transition.  This is what makes a muscle-up a muscle-up.  You are muscling through the transition to get up.  There are many elements that need to be in place before attempting a muscle-up, mobility being the most important if you want to avoid injury.  To learn a proper step by step process customized to your level, feel free to contact us!

A Simple Method For Strength Gains – Post Tetanic Facilitation

Post tetanic facilitation is an awesome method for gaining strength.  I got this from a Charles Poliquin course quite a few years back and decided to revisit it the other day.  Here is a link to one of his articles on this method if you would like to read more.  The idea is to create a maximal isometric contraction first to activate more motor units so that they can be better used in the full range movement to follow.  Here I hold a chin-up at 90 degrees for about 8 seconds and right after perform the full range pull-up reps.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

STRONG & TONED GLUTES & LEGS with this SIMPLE CALISTHENICS LEG BLAST

By Gavin Buehler, RMT

I’m often asked about workouts that require minimal amounts of equipment for people to perform either at home or on their travels.  At the same time, people also ask for something effective that they can do when they are pressed for time.  It can be difficult to find well balanced workouts that target both posterior and anterior muscle groups with limited equipment and time.  This article will outline a fairly balanced and simple calisthenic leg workout that only requires a bench and can be performed within a 10-20-minute time period.

As a side note, this article is intended to give you ideas of how to structure a workout and should only be performed if you are well versed in the movements described and have consulted your physician or healthcare provider before engaging in physical activity.  Enjoy!

General Guidelines:

  • Be sure to have warm muscles before performing these exercises. An appropriate warm-up activity or routine is recommended.
  • Always remember to breathe throughout these exercise movements. Do not hold your breath.  Controlled breathing is recommended throughout.
  • You should be working within your current abilities. Should you feel any sudden pain or discomfort, exercise should be stopped immediately.
  • You may feel some muscular fatigue after performing these exercises and some possible soreness over the next day or two.
  • Always start with weaker side first on unilateral movements and use a slow controlled tempo throughout.
  • If you work beyond your pain free range of motion or do not perform a proper warm-up, it is possible to injure yourself. Please follow these guidelines to minimize your risk and recovery time.

The Workout

This workout is performed as a circuit, meaning that one exercise is performed one after the other with minimal rest in between.  There are four exercises in this circuit.  Each exercise is to be performed in order one after the other and then repeated for the appropriate number of sets.

Exercises:

A1:  One-Leg Hip Press on Bench – 10-15 reps each leg

A2:  Bench Back Extension – 15-20 reps

A3:  Bulgarian Split Squat – 10-15 reps each leg

A4:  Body Weight Squats – 15-20 reps

Repeat circuit 3-5 times.

Tempos – should be controlled, taking 2-3 seconds on negatives (eccentric movement) and 1-2 seconds on the positives (concentric movements).

Rests – rest should be taken as needed.

The Details:

A1.  One-Leg Hip Press on Bench

The purpose of this movement is to focus on posterior chain muscles, the hamstrings and glutes in particular, while isolating one leg at a time to remove the dominance of a stronger leg and incorporate more stabilization muscles.

(a)                    (b)

Instructions:

  • Lie on your back and place one foot on a bench with feet dorsi flexed (toes toward shins), and knee bent about 90 degrees so that it is stacked over the hip as in picture (a) above.
  • Engage your core by bracing and pretending that you are about to be punched in the stomach keeping your spine neutral. This brace should be maintained throughout the movement.
  • Lift your hips off the ground by pressing your heel straight down into the bench by squeezing your glutes and hamstring muscles until you have created a straight line from your knee down through to your shoulders as in picture (b) above. Pretend you are hooking the bench with your heel.  If you press away into the bench, you will be engaging too much quadriceps and change the movement and purpose of this exercise.  If done correctly you should feel the back of your leg and glutes tone up and more than likely burn a little.
  • Slowly lower yourself back down to start position and repeat for specified number of repetitions before switching legs.
  • Keep your toes pointing toward the ceiling throughout the movement and do not let them turn out.

A2.  Bench Back Extension

The purpose of this movement is to focus on posterior chain muscles including the hamstrings, glutes and spinal erectors.

(a)                    (b)

Instructions:

  • Lie face down on a bench and position your torso so that it hangs over an end and your pelvis is just behind the edge. Place your legs in a semi frog legged position and hook your heels under the edges of the bench and keep your head just off the ground as in picture (a) above.
  • Engage your core by bracing and pretending that you are about to be punched in the stomach keeping your spine neutral. This brace should be maintained throughout the movement.
  • Lift your torso toward the ceiling by bracing your heels against the bench and squeezing your glutes and hamstring muscles until you have created a straight line from your head down through to your pelvis as in picture (b) above. Be sure to lift your entire torso keeping your spine neutral throughout the movement.  If done correctly you should feel the backs of your legs and glutes tone up and more than likely burn a little.
  • Slowly lower yourself back down to start position and repeat for specified number of repetitions.

A3.  Bulgarian Split Squat

The purpose of this movement is to engage the muscles of the quadriceps and glutes, while isolating one leg at a time to remove the dominance of a stronger leg and incorporate more stabilization muscles.

(a)                    (b)

Instructions:

  • Stand in front of a bench facing away roughly about the distance from your knee to toes and place one foot top down on the bench as in picture (a) above. Stand upright so that head shoulders and hips stack over top of your ankle.
  • Engage your core by bracing and pretending that you are about to be punched in the stomach keeping your spine neutral. This brace should be maintained throughout the movement.
  • Slowly lower yourself toward the ground by bending your knees and pretending to pull yourself down. Keep your front foot flat with toes forward and heel down.  Maintain a stacked position with your head shoulders and hips as in picture (b) above.  Do not let torso bend forward in lowered position.
  • Lower yourself until your back knee is just off the ground and then press back up to start position by squeezing your quadriceps and glute muscles and pressing through the entire sole of your foot. If done correctly you should feel the fronts of your thighs and glutes tone up and more than likely burn a little.
  • Repeat for specified number of repetitions before switching legs.
  • Be careful not to let your hips twist or sway or let your knee fall in toward the center. Your knee should remain forward in the same direction as your foot and in line with your hip throughout the movement.

A4.  Body Weight Squat

The purpose of this movement is to engage the muscles of the lower body and posterior chain through a functional movement pattern.

(a)                    (b)

Instructions:

  • Stand upright so that head shoulders and hips stack over top of your ankles as in picture (a) above. You can place hands on shoulders and feet can be hip to shoulder width apart and pointed straight forward or slightly turned out.
  • Engage your core by bracing and pretending that you are about to be punched in the stomach keeping your spine neutral. This brace should be maintained throughout the movement.
  • Slowly lower yourself toward the ground by bending your knees and gliding your hips back pretending to pull yourself down. Keep your feet flat with toes and heels down and chest proud as in picture (b) above.
  • Make sure that you keep your knees pointed in the same direction as your feet throughout the movement. Do not let them fall in or sway out excessively.
  • Lower yourself to a depth where you can correctly maintain flat feet and a neutral spine. If you feel you back rounding, heels raising or you need to tilt your body forward beyond the angle of your shins, then this is too low for you.
  • Press back up to start position by squeezing your quadriceps and glute muscles and pressing through the entire soles of your feet. Think about squeezing your butt underneath your shoulders and hips.  If done correctly you should feel the fronts of your thighs and glutes tone up and more than likely burn a little.
  • Repeat for specified number or repetitions.

Visit this YouTube link for a quick overview:

Did you enjoy this article?  Would you like more like it?  Send us your feedback, article requests and let us know how your workout went!  Leave a comment on our Blog or contact us with any questions at custom-fit@rogers.com.  For more in depth instruction book a consultation here.

REDUCE YOUR RISK OF KNEE PAIN FROM CYCLING

By Gavin Buehler, RMT

As the weather begins to thaw, the cycling season rides into full effect!  This popular method of exercise and economically efficient mode of transportation boasts wonderful health benefits and is even a regularly prescribed rehabilitation and physical therapy exercise due to its simplicity and low impact on joints.  While cycling is regarded for its safety and benefits, it’s still an activity susceptible to injuries.

Outside of accidents that involve some sort of external force, repetitive strain injuries (RSI’s) are the most prevalent injuries in cycling.  An RSI occurs over time from repeated physical movements that cause damage in soft body tissue such as tendons, ligaments, nerves and muscles.  In cycling, knee pain is the top lower extremity complaint with one study finding 65% of 1638 recreational long-distance riders reporting knee pain.

So if cycling is supposed to be easier on the joints, then why is this happening?  Cycling has lower impact on joint structure but it is a constant repetitive motion where during a 1 hour ride, a cyclist may average around 5000 revolutions.  That is some serious joint usage.  Over that quantity of repetitions the smallest amount of misalignment will add up and can lead to dysfunctions such as declined performance and pain.  There are many sources for malalignment including bicycle fit, anatomy and structural imbalances, and how you train.  This article will create some awareness of anatomy and structural imbalances that could possibly lead to knee pain.

There are some anatomical challenges that many people are predisposed to that can lead to alignment issues such as a leg length discrepancy, flat feet, pelvic width and tibial rotation to name a few.  In these cases customized fitting adjustments may need to be looked into as a solution to assist with proper positioning.  However, a lot of RSI cases come from structural imbalances and unawareness.  In a sport where propulsion is extremely quadriceps dominant, those muscles will develop more than other muscle groups that are also needed.  In many sports the most gifted athletes will have imbalances with certain muscle groups that are dominant for their sport, and that’s what makes them special, but you still need to have the stability to control that force.  A car with a big engine is no good if you don’t have the breaks to slow down.  In cycling the well-developed quadriceps will be able to handle longer durations than other muscles needed that help stabilize and support the knee joint.  When supporting muscles fatigue first, that changes the kinematic chain which creates malalignment leading to RSI’s.  A study done on cyclists published in the National Institute of Health showed sustained fatigue in 18 of 28 muscles tested with the biceps femoris (generally the most dominant hamstring muscle), and gastrocnemius (a calf muscle), displaying the greatest fatigue, causing disruption of the optimal kinematic chain.  Note that these muscles are on the opposite side of your leg from your quadriceps, but equally important.  Since they do not get the same conditioning during cycling as the quads, over time they will become imbalanced.  This is just one example of many imbalance possibilities that can lead to RSI’s such a patellar tendinitis, patellofemoral syndrome or iliotibial band friction syndrome.

To determine if you might be at risk, or if you currently experience knee pain, it is a good idea to seek a qualified professional that can assess your body and guide you in the right direction to maintain healthy activity.  A good strength coach or therapist will be able to provide you with strategies specific to you.  Nobody likes having to take time off from what they love due to injury.  Book an appointment with Custom-Fit Wellness today or use our convenient online booking system!  For more information, questions or feedback, and if you have a suggestion for a topic you would like me to write about, please contact me.

References:

  1. Michael Tjepkema. Repetative Strain Injury.  Health Reports, Vol. 14, No. 4, August 2003, Statistics Canada, Catalogue 82-003
  2. CPT Chad Asplund, MD; COL Patrick St Pierre, MD. Knee Pain and Bicycling, Fitting Concepts for Clinicians.  The Physician and Sportsmedicine, Vol. 32, No. 4, April 2004.
  3. Jonathan B. Dingwell, Jason E. Joubert, Fernando Diefenthaeler, Joel D. Trinity. Changes in Muscle Activity and Kinematics of Highly Trained Cyclists During Fatigue.  IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2008 November ; 55(11): 2666–2674. doi:10.1109/TBME.2008.2001130.
  4. Andrew L. Dannenberg, MD, MPH, Scott Needle, MD, Daniel Mullady Kenneth B. Kolodner, Phd. Predictors of injury among 1638 riders in a recreational long-distance bicycle tour: Cycle Across Maryland.  Am J Sports Med 1996;24(6):747-753
  5. Javier F. Decalzi, MD; Steven J. Narvy, MD; C. Thomas Vangsness Jr, MD. Overview of Cycling Injuries: Results of a Cycling Club Survey.  Orthopedics, April 2013 – Volume 36 · Issue 4: 287-289 Posted April 1, 2013, DOI: 10.3928/01477447-20130327-07

MASSAGE THERAPY FOR INJURY PREVENTION & OPTIMAL PERFORMANCE

By Gavin Buehler, RMT

Massage Therapy is viewed by many as a service primarily used for relaxation.  However, it is also an effective treatment method or complimentary modality for a multitude of other conditions.  So, how can massage therapy benefit you?

Massage Therapy is a Registered Healthcare Practice in Ontario which means that many benefits programs provide coverage, and more importantly your RMT has been well educated to provide you with information regarding your health, that may otherwise be overlooked.

A thorough assessment is the keystone in the creation of a health program or treatment plan but is often disregarded.  Assessments reveal important factors about your physical structure and provide a baseline of your overall health status allowing for the safest, most efficient and specific programming for your needs.  An assessment performed by an RMT can help distinguish the source of the pain that you may be feeling instead of just addressing the symptoms.  For example, many chronic knee pain conditions or injuries actually occur due to poor stability and/or lack of mobility in the hips.  Sometimes pain in the elbow or hand is the result of an asymptomatic issue in the shoulder.  Lower back pain is often the result of weakness or restrictions elsewhere in the body causing the lower back to feel the burden.

Beyond determining the possible source of pain or injury, a proper assessment can help with preventing such things.  Through skilled palpation and various orthopaedic tests, an RMT can recognize a body’s loading patterns, structural imbalances, circulatory disturbances and more to provide you with preventative solutions to reduce the risk of injury.

In today’s Western world, the majority of people spend their days sitting in poor postural positions.  The repetition creates structural imbalances that most are unaware of due to the slow change over time.  Many people would still like to be active and will participate in physical recreational activities.  Going from sedentary back to your youthful glory days with the imbalances that have been created from your daily living habits is a recipe for disaster.  Being aware of your weaknesses and strengths and learning how to fix them can save you from a lot of pain and possibly time off work.

In order for an athlete to perform optimally, everything has to be in check.  You’re only as strong as your weakest link.  Many athletes develop imbalances due to one side dominant sports or repetitive movements.  This can lead to restrictions in some areas stunting performance, or overloading other tissues that might lead to serious injury.  Knowing where your risks lie and how to create a more balanced structure to perform at your absolute best is what separates the best from the average.

Massage Therapy can be an effective approach to avoiding pain or injury as well as performing at your best.   Please contact us today to book your appointment!  For more information and an extensive list of conditions that massage therapy has been used to help with, please visit this link at the Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of Ontario.

8 Benefits of Working with a Personal Trainer

By Gavin Buehler

Some of the reasons and benefits that you might want to consider when making the decision of whether or not to invest in Personal Training could include the following:

  1. Accountability – This is the number one reason why people hire trainers in the first place. Having someone hold you accountable to your commitments will exponentially improve the probability of success.  Once you have an appointment, it’s a lot harder to be dissuaded or side tracked.  Besides, if you miss an appointment with your trainer, you know there will be consequences.
  1. Motivation – It can be difficult to maintain a level of motivation that will lead you to your goals. Having someone to challenge, support and remind you of why you’ve chosen this path can keep you from deviating.
  1. Injury Prevention – It’s easy to injure yourself when getting into an exercise regimen. Whether you are new or experienced you are prone to injury.  An experienced trainer can minimize the risk of injury through analysis of your movement patterns, creating awareness of imbalances and proper exercise prescription and instruction.
  1. Education – The Health and Fitness industry is full of “experts” and noise. Finding information that is actually valid can be a difficult task.  A qualified guide can bring clarity to that confusion and provide a wealth of knowledge that you can carry with you for a lifetime.  You only have one body, it’s important to learn how to maintain and care for it so that it will perform optimally for you throughout your life.
  1. Performance Enhancement – If you’re competitive, there’s no question that you can benefit from a professional who will safely test your limits and help you break through to the next level. Just about every top athlete either has, or consults with a strength coach for good reason.  They can identify your limiting factors and show you how to fix them.
  1. Specific Conditions or Needs – You may have a condition that requires close monitoring during physical activity or perhaps you’ve got a new bundle of joy on the way with a pregnancy. Certain trainers are certified with a focus on such situations and can teach you safe methods and protocols so that you’re able to still be active and healthy.
  1. Objective Eyes – Sometimes we’re just not as aware of ourselves as we think. With exercise this can unfortunately lead to injury.  Having an expert study your movement and make fine tune adjustments can help you avoid a nasty setback.  It will also allow you to maximize the effectiveness of each movement so that you are working more efficiently and smarter.  This can streamline workouts and give you more bang for your buck!
  1. Variety – It’s easy to get stuck doing the same old routine. This can also lead to repetitive strain injuries and/or a lack of results and plateauing.  A trainer knows when and how to modify or change programs to maximize your results while giving you variety to keep you engaged.

Learn more through your own Personal Training/Nutrition Consultation here.