Exercise of the week: Lunge with front raise

The exercise of the week this week is a great total body exercise. It is an intermediate level exercise so male sure you are comfortable with lunges, have good balance as well as shoulder strength before trying.

Items needed: barbell or a bodybar (dumbbells can also be used)

Muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, deltoids, trapezius

Start- to begin, stand straight with your feet hip width apart. Hold that bar out in front of you at about shoulder width apart. The arms should be extended with a slight bend at the elbows.

Movement (a)– begin by taking a step forward. The step should be a comfortable distance, not too long and not too short, you should still feel balanced.

Movement (b)- this part of the movement will require that you do two things at the same time. First bend the back knee and drop down into a lunge. Second, at the same time, swing the bar overhead. Male sure to keep the elbows locked in place.

Movement (c)- from this position drive up through your front heel and back into the starting position. At the same time lower your arms back into the starting position.

Personal Training Business Blog: 5 ways to make home workouts more interesting.

As someone with over 6 years of experience as an in-home personal trainer I have learned that creativity and change are the keys to maintaining a solid level of enthusiasm in my clients. The challenge with in home personal training is that the trainer is very limited in what he or she has available. This means that the trainer needs to think outside of the box in order to keep dynamic and interesting sessions.  The following are 5 ideas to keep sessions new and interesting.

1. Eyes closed- A very easy way to make almost any exercise more challenging is to do it with your eyes closed. Try completing a lunge or flys on a ball with your eyes closed. It’s not easy. Closing your eyes forces the body to rely on proprioceptors and it’s a great way add variety to an exercise.

2. Progression- The principle of progression is known by all trainers and it should be applied with exercises. Just about any exercise has countless progressions and regressions. If you do the same exercises week after week with the same client, it can get boring very quickly. A great way around this is to progress the core exercises. Adding rotation, changing hand positioning, working on one leg, these are all ways to progress an exercise. Take push ups for example. You can use a staggered grip, an unstable surface, twist into a side plank as ways to make them different.

3. Intervals- Interval training is a great way to make a workout different. Intervals, especially using the HIIT method, will keep the client moving and working at a pace that they won’t really think about the exercises that they are doing. Even if you don’t change the exercises, varying the intervals will be enough to keep the client from being bored.

4. Boxing- Boxing is an awesome way to add variety to a workout. The fact is that people like to punch things so boxing serves as great stress relief. The basics are easy enough to learn and 5-10 minutes in the beginning or end of a workout work really well. You will need boxing gloves and mitts, and it’s important to learn punching technique as well as how to hold pads.

5. Use household items- Be creative. Almost anything in the apartment can be used for a workout. Stack 2 phonebooks for a step, climb stairs, use a chair for dips or use water bottles as weights. Look around the apartment or house and be creative, clients appreciate that and it places you a step ahead of everyone else.

Ask the trainer

Question: Ryan, I currently weigh 125 lbs. I have pretty much been the same weight my entire adult life but over the past 3 years, my body has changed dramatically. Even though my weight gas stayed the same, my body has changed for the worse. I’m flabbier, my clothes don’t fit and I feel bad. How is this possible and how can I turn my fat into muscle?

Answer: Your situation is a very common one and it is not at all strange that your body has changed while the weight stayed the same. I don’t know your age but as we get older, our bodies naturally gain fat. What has probably happened is that over the past few years, you gained bodyfat due to diet and inactivity. You lost lean weight and gained fat weight. Since your total calories probably haven’t changed, your weight stayed the same while your body changed. A good way to look at this phenomenon is to consider this. 5 lbs of fat takes up about 4 times the surface area as 5 lbs of muscle. So if over time, you gain even 5 lbs of fat while losing 5 lbs of muscle, your body will look a lot different while maintaining the weight.

To answer the second part of your question, it’s a common misconception that one can turn fat into muscle. Unfortunately, these are two independent processes which tend to work together but need to be approached separately. The first part is losing fat weight and the second part is building lean weight. Losing fat weight takes a combination of three things. First, the diet needs to be healthy and low in fat and sugar. Second, is that you need cardiovascular activity. Third is that you need to build muscle, in order to increase your metabolism and burn more at rest. The second part, building lean weight or muscle, is achieved primarilly through resistence training with weights. Hope this helps and feel free to comment.

Exercise of the week: iso lateral raise

The iso-lateral raise is a variation on the traditional lateral raise which is great for developing the shoulders.

Muscles used
Primary- deltoids (frontal and medial heads)
Secondary- trapezius, rotator cuff

Equipment– dumbbells. Try a lighter pair the first time as this is deceptively hard.

Start- As you would with a normal lateral raise, you want to start standing upright.  Keep the arms extended but slightly bent at the elbow.  Laterally raise both arms to shoulder level and hold. This is the starting position.
Movement- From the starting position, keep the left arm in he air and lower the right arm down to the side. Raise back up to the starting position and repeat until you have completed the desired number of repetitions. Follow that by immediately holding the right arm in the air while performing repetitions with the left arm. isoalt

5 things to look for in a new Personal Trainer

As someone who has been in the fitness industry,  I have seen my share of good trainers and my share of bad trainers. The following post is for anyone looking to work with a trainer. Beyond the basic things to look for which can be found here, these are good signs that the person you are working with is a quality person and personal trainer.

1- Complimentary Consultation. As a personal trainer I genuinely appreciate the fact that I can make a living doing something that I’m passionate about. In order for a trainer to do well, he or she needs to build trust and a connection with the client. A complimentary consultation can go a long way towards building that trust. This allows the client a chance to “interview” the trainer and make a decision without committing financially. Any trainer who is confident in his or her abilities, should have no problem offering a complimentary consultation as this is the chance to gather data and inspire the client moving forward. Someone who insists on payment for the first meeting is usually trying to make a quick buck and is taking a very short sighted approach.

2- Connection. As somewhat of an extension from #1, it is very important that you feel some kind of connection with the trainer. The fact of the matter is, if you choose to work regularly with a trainer, that person will become an integral part of your life. You will spend 1,2 or 3 hours a week with this person, more than you may spend with you may spend with your closest friends. In many cases, personal trainers become a friend in addition to being responsible for your workouts and fitness program. With all of this in mind, it’s important that the person you choose as a trainer be someone you feel a connection to and want to work with. You could have the most qualified trainer in the world but if you don’t like them, or are not inspired by them, all of the hard work could be for naught.

3- Focus should be on you. When meeting with a trainer, their focus should be on you and your goals. This is part of the importance of #1. The trainer should be asking questions about your background, fitness history as well as your goals. If the trainer isn’t asking questions related to your goals or worse yet, if he or she is creating goals for you then something is wrong. It’s a great sign when you meet a trainer who is asking a lot of questions, this means that the wheels are turning and they are designing a program as you speak with them.

4- Specializations. While the average personal training client is looking for weight loss and toning, there are many times when a client has specialized needs. If you have any health problems or physical injuries, current or previous, it’s important that the trainer know how to work with someone in that situation. For example, exercise is vital for many diabetes patients but a trainer without knowledge of how to train diabetes patients, could cause more harm than good. The same goes for a person with a specialized goal. A great example is marathon running. If you decide to run a marathon, it’s important that the trainer have knowledge of how to train a person running a marathon. Again, a serius injury could occur with the wrong training.

5- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. At the end of the day, a good fitness program is going to take hard work and time. If a trainer is promising results that seem too fast to really occur or that doesn’t take hard work, it’s likely either not true or not safe. A good trainer will be able to map out a plan which will take you to your goals but in all likelihood, it’s going to take hard work and little bit of time.

Ask the Trainer: Is walking enough?

Question: Hi, I am a 54 year old woman. In the past few years I have gained some extra weight and have recently begun a walking program. Do you believe that walking is enough for someone in my situation?

Answer: As with many of these questions, there is not a  clear cut answer. Much of the answer lies in what your goals and capabilities are. In general, I absolutely recommend walking. From an activity and a psychological perspective, walking is great. For many of us, our surroundings are made for us to be lazy. We tend to lead very sedentary lives and walking is an activity that gets lost on many people. For many people, a 2-3 mile walk is a daunting task and it is much easier to take a cab, train, car or bus instead of the walk. So, I would definitely recommend anybody increase the amount of walking they do. It keeps you active, moving and also has psychological benefits. Making the decision to walk , either as an alternative to other modes of transportation or just as an activity, usually carries over to other things. You may find yourself taking stairs more often, preparing your own meals, getting up to change channels and choosing other, more active alternatives throughout the day.

Things get a little more cloudy when it comes to walking as a means of achieving results. Walking can be great for someone who is rehabbing an leg injury. It can also be good for an otherwise very sedentary adult with health problems. As great as walking can be, if weight loss is your goal, it may not be the most effective means of achieving that goal. A combination of a healthy diet and exercise are the components needed to lose weight. If the weight loss goal is small (3-10lbs) then the diet in combination with walking may be enough. For a weight loss goal of more than 10lbs, walking is not likely to be enough exercise. On average, walking will burn approximately 150-250 calories per hour. This may not be enough for someone looking to lose a significant amount of weight when compared to other forms of exercise:

Activity                                            calories/ hour

Running (moderate)                    530-630

Running (heavy)                        800-1200

Cycling (moderate)                    450-600

Weight lifting (moderate)       200-400

In addition to burning more calories, more intense exercise will increase the metabolism in a way that you are burning more calories, post exercise for up to 2 hours after the workout. More intense exercise is also important for the heart and developing the cardiovascular system and walking will likely not help in this area unless the person is severely deconditioned.

When it comes to using walking as a form of exercise, we get a mixed bag. While there are definitely benefits to increasing the amount of walking you do, it’s not a replacement for vigorous exercise especially if there is a specific weight loss goal.

Please feel free to comment. Thanks for reading.

Exercise of the week- 1 arm Plank

I posted the plank a few weeks ago and this exercise is a progression on the plank which is great for core strength, and upper body strength. These are also especially good for those struggling with pushups as it helps build the stability and control needed to perform pushups correctly.

Muscles used

Primary: Pectorals, Rectus abdominus, Obliques

Secondary: Triceps, Deltoids, TVA, Serratus Anterior

Start

To start, begin in a pushup position. You should be prone and holding yourself up with both hands on the floor and on your toes. The feet should be about hip width apart and the hands should be about shoulder width apart. Like the plank, make sure that the shoulder blades are pinched together and the back is slightly arched.

1

Movement

Make sure to brace the abdominal area and slowly raise one arm off of the ground. Keep the arm straight and raise up until the arm is parallel to the ground. Make sure not to sway or shift the weight too much, ideally, the rest of the body should be stable while lifting the arm. Hold the arm in the air for 2-10 seconds, lower and lift the opposite arm. Alternate raising the arms for about 12 repetitions on each side. 2

Exercise of the week: kneeling rollout

Kneeling roll out

The kneeling roll out is a great abdominal exercise which can be used for training in-home. It does require that you have an exercise ball. This is great because it works all of the muscles in the core as you have to stabilize in order to stay straight.

Muscles used
Primary- Rectus abdominus, internal/ external oblique, erector spinae
Secondary- sertatus anterior, lattisumus dorsi,

Start- before starting the exercise, make sure to be on a soft surface because this can be hard on the knees. Start by kneeling on a mat and make sure to keep the body straight. The back should be straight and you should be able to draw a straight line from the knees, through the hips through the shoulders. The arms should be bent with the forearms touching the ball.

Movement- your bodies positioning here is key so pay close attention. First, make sure that the back is straight the entire time, this can be accomplished by bracing or tightening the abdominal area. Slowly roll forward by extending the arms at the shoulder. Your weight should be forward and stop rolling before your chest touches the ball. When you get to the end of the movement, pause and hold for 2 seconds and then roll back into the starting position.

The importance rest in an exercise program

A common misconception about fitness is that more is better. It’s an idea that one must work out 6 or 7 days a week and never take time away from working out. This cannot be further from the truth and in fact, adequate rest it just as important to a fitness program as actual time spent working out. A person who does not rest adequately risks both a physical and psychological breakdown due to the level of stress placed on the body.

To understand the importance of rest, it is important to understand how our bodies develop when involved in a fitness program. Contrary to common beliefs, the actual act of exercising does not build muscles. Exercising actually does the opposite as it causes tearing within the muscle. When we work out we are essentially breaking down and tearing muscle tissue. The muscle building is a result of the bodies ability to adapt. Once we have broken the muscles down, the body needs to repair them, our bodies will adapt to this new stress by repairing the muscles stronger than before in order to meet the new requirement for strength. Adequate rest is crucial for this process to be successful as we repair our muscle tissue during rest.

Lack of rest also increases the potential for injury. If a person works out 6 days a week, they are essentially breaking their body down without giving themselves enough time to recover. Often times, this will eventually result in an injury as the person does not have a chance to recover from the constant stress.

In addition to the physical requirements, there is also a psychological advantage to resting. Unless a person is a professional athlete on a strict schedule, it is common for people to overwork themselves to the point of physiological exhaustion. There is tremendous guilt associated with rest and eventually the person breaks down and has to stop working out all together. A proper understanding of the importance of resting would result in a more manageable program.

It’s not hard to see this in practice. Professional athletes, for example, work out for a living in order to be in peak condition. Most athletes need 2-3 off days a week. In addition, for sports like boxing, mma where they are training specifically to be at their peak on a specific day, athletes will take a week off of rigorous activity immediately before the competition in order to recover and reach their peak.

When it comes to requirements, it’s going to vary from person to person but generally I would say 2-3 days off a week. It’s always best to schedule the days off if possible as it tends to keep a person committed to the workouts. In addition to taking the weekly breaks, it’s also important to take a week or so off every few months. This is also a good way to recharge the batteries and stay excited about fitness.

Keep in mind that good fitness is about balance, so hard work needs to be complimented with good rest. Don’t feel guilt about your time away from the gym because that is when your body really gets to work.

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