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.

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.

Weekly exercise journal

Diet: this week, my goal was to focus on the frequency of my diet. I had been feeling extra hungry for some time now and I believe it’s because I’m not eating frequently enough. Since my days can be very crazy and erratic, planning is key. So every day, before bed I looked at my schedule and created an eating plan that would fit. It’s a tedious process but it seems to have worked as I’m definitely not getting the bouts of hunger.

Exercise: this week I was focused on turning my sessions up a notch. I followed a compound set routine which is basically doing back to back exercises using the same body part. After strength training, I would follow that up with 1,000 jumps and 5 rounds of kickboxing with the bag. Much to my dismay, I even went for a one mile run.

Results: Weight- 175 (no change)

Journal: this was a frustrating week. I worked my butt off and had nothing to show for it. Obviously I understand why and intellectually, I get it but it doesn’t make me feel any better. It just goes to show that even with a professional, it’s very hard to handle not making progress especially when you have worked hard. I might be a little too focused on the weight loss but it’s my goal at the moment and I need to see some more pounds drop. The increased intensity felt good. I’m definitely not in the shape I was last year but I’m getting there. I did solid rounds with the bag and jumped rope. My goal next week is to lose a couple of pounds and get 5 solid workouts in. Until next week.

Ask the Trainer: “Tone up without building too much muscle”

Question: “I am a woman and would like to tone up my arms without bulking up. Is there a way to build lean muscle without getting too big?”

Answer:  This is a great question which I am asked frequently. There are many misconceptions regarding women strength training and hopefully I can clear those up while answering this question. First, in order to answer this question, it is important that you understand what muscle tone really is. Simply put, muscle tone is the activation level of a given muscle while at rest. Even when we are not exercising, our muscles are active on some level, the more a muscle is trained and used, the greater the activation level. This level of activation, combined with  low bodyfat will result in the muscles appearing more defined or “toned.”

The second thing to note is the idea that there is a difference between lean muscle and bulky muscles. In reality, muscle tissue is muscle tissue and there is no way to train a muscle to become longer and leaner, your body will dictate how a muscle developes, this is in your DNA and there is no way to change that.

Now that we have those two things out of the way, I can better answer your question. In order to build muscle, we need a combination of resistance training and testosterone. Women don’t have the level of testosterone that men have so it’s very hard for a woman to put on a lot of muscle. Obviously this isn’t the case for everyone but generally, you won’t have to worry about putting on too much muscle.

In order to have “toned” arms, you will need to train with weights in order to build some muscle on the arms and again, you will likely not put on excessive muscle. Secondly. you will want to lose bodyfat. The lower the bodyfat, the more your lean muscle tissue will show. Cardiovascular activity along with a low fat diet will assist in dropping the bodyfat.

The combination of exercise and diet will assist you in becoming more toned but if you want to take it to the next level then here is a great way. Train like an athlete! Athletes are toned because their bodies are trained to react immediately, powerfully and explosively. If you are healthy enough, I incorporating a lot of explosive movements, powerlifting movements, bodyweight exercises and high intensity work. This level of training will increase the activation levels of your muscles and you will look far more defined.

Hope this helps.

Exercise of the Week (Single Leg Squat)

leg_dum-173The single leg squat is a great exercise which is effective in many ways. It’s a great exercise for the glutes as well as the quadriceps and there is a huge balance element which is great for your core as well as coordination.

The Setup

Start by Standing with the feet together. This can be done with or without weights but either way, keep your hands at your sides. Lift one leg off of the ground and kick tha leg back at the hip.

The Movement

Brace your abs and slowly sit back into a squat. Make sure to lean forward at the hip and keep your foot flat on the floor. Once you reach a comfortable depth, drive up through your heels and press back up. Try not to let the raised leg touch the ground until you finish your desired number of repetitions.

This is a great exercise and if you have trouble balancing throughout, don’t be discouraged, it takes time to build the balance.

Exercise of the week

flex-021Exercise of the week is back and I will do my best to update this as
frequently as possible from here on. This week’s exercise of the week
is a flexibility exercise that can be useful to most people. This
exercise stretches the psoas or hip flexors. Most people’s daily
routine can be very taxing on the hip flexors which in turn can cause
tightness in the lower back. Stretching the hip flexors will not only
work on the hip but will also alleviate some of the tension in the
lower back. This stretch should be done in three steps.

Starting position: start by kneeling on one knee on a soft surface.

Step 1: fall forward on the hip that’s kneeling by extending the leg.
You should feel a stretch from the hip going down the leg. (Pictured)

Step 2: raise the arm on the same side as the knee on the ground. Pull
the arm directly behind you. The stretch should be more intense.

Step 3: with the same arm in the air, reach across to the opposite
side. You should feel the stretch even more intensly.

After step three, hold the stretch for about 20 seconds and do the
same on the other side.  Make sure to complete each step separately as
it’s the most effective way to get the stretch.

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