October is Depression Awareness Month. Find out how exercise can help beat the blues.
In my last article, I talked about the need for correct mobility in your exercises and workout. Mobility is extremely important and should always be addressed early on to ensure good positioning and a full range of motion in your lift. Mobility, however is only one part of the puzzle. There’s another aspect that the yogis don’t like to talk about and many people get confused with a BOSU ball: Stability
Mobility and Stability are the two components that provide the frame-work of movement. Mobility is the ability of a joint to move through a given range of motion, whereas stability is the ability to resist being moved. From a biomechanics stand-point they are like yin and yang, positive and negative, peanut butter and jelly. One cannot exist without the other. They are both equally important in training, however the body will always choose stability over mobility for safety and compensations.
Dr. Perry of Stop Chasing Pain is known for his saying, “stability rules the road.” What he means by that is that your body will always give up mobility in whatever joint it needs to create a stable environment if there is dysfunction(muscles not working properly). Will that cause pain and compensation patterns? Probably, but not always. If muscles aren’t working right, then they will not be able to control the motions in joints, and your body doesn’t trust that, so it will lock it down. It’s very similar to walking on ice. When you’re on the ice, you naturally stiffen up, and you consciously will keep your legs in and tight, not using big strides.
So essentially, if you lose stability, you will lose mobility somewhere else. It follows the joint by joint approach just as mobility did in my last article. This is why it doesn’t make sense to just stretch or just to weight train. When I talked about how to create proper mobility, step 4 was ACTIVATE. This is where stability is created, in the hopes that it will start to become automatic when used with movement.
Stiffness is the Same as Stability
Many people confuse this notion of creating stability with creating stiffness. For an area to be stable, you want it to be tense/active during the appropriate movement and yet supple when not in use.
If you’re doing 50 reverse hyperextensions a day to keep your low back, “stable,” then you’re just creating stiffness by overusing the muscles and there for doing it wrong. If you want to create true stability in a particular area, then you must train that muscle/area as a stabilizer.
Stability training is done on bosus and wobble boards
Creating true stability in a joint DOES NOT need to be done on an unstable surface. It is done by creating mobility and then using a particular area as a stabilizer to hold a particular position. This is not to say that using a BOSU or wobble-board is always wrong. They do have their time and place for rehab, but that’s another topic for a blog post.
Anyway, an example of using a muscle as a stabilizer that I like is using the ½ knealing position for variations on exercises to help create some glute stability and open up the front of the hips. What about the guy doing the 50 hyperextensions? Well how about just try some simple plank variations or maybe even a kettlebell halo instead.
Fitness- n. 1. the condition of being physically fit and healthy. 2. the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task.As most of us realize that our overall fitness includes both exercise and diet. Would anyone pour sugar water into a car's gas tank and expect it to win NASCAR races (or run at all for that matter)?
It's the same with the human body: you can't load up your body with sugars (and highly processed frankenfood) and expect to achieve athletic feats and improve your physical streng
So what should we eat to provide the fuel our bodies need to crush heavy weights, tear it up on the fields and courts, and rise to Jedi Master status?
Lean meats, vegetables, fruits, eggs, water... you know, whole foods. A diet rich in whole, (mostly) unprocessed foods should the be base of any healthy diet, and especially so for those looking to build muscle, lose fat, improve speed, increase verticals, and slay dragons.
There are many calculations, measurements and details that I can expound on to find your specific caloric intake. These, I think, are more applicable for elite athletes (which most of us, outside our imaginations, are not) or highly competitive physique athletes, i.e. bodybuilders and figure competitors. For us mortals, we'll be a-ok if we keep eating real food, employing lots of vegetables, and limiting the amount of processed crap we ingest.
Nutrition is akin to training in this sense. While, yes, calculating and recording does have it's place in those high level athletes' lives, the average trainee (as in 95% of the population) will have a healthy, productive and happy lives the less we measure and obsess about everything that goes in our mouths. Just keep it simple.
Since I think it can be impractical to count calories with every meal, here are some more practical ways to manage your portion sizes.
1 palm of meat is roughly 20-30g of protein
1 "serving" of fruits or vegetables is either, 1 medium piece of fruit, 1/2 cup chopped fruit or vegetable, or 1 cup of leafy vegetables.
1 fist is about the serving size of carbohydrates.
Meals should consist of:
1. Protein source: lean beef, chicken breast, fish, eggs (vegetarians: tofu, tempeh, plant based combos to make a complete protein). How much: men- 2 palm-sized portion, women- 1 palm-size
2. Fat source: egg yolks, the fat found in meats, coconut oil, butter (real stuff, not margarine), nuts/nut butter, avocado, and olive oil How much: Roughly 30% of your calories should come from fats so try adding just a bit to each meal. Sautee vegetables in 1-2 tsp of olive or coconut oil, eat 2-3 eggs, a handful of nuts or a tablespoon of nut butter, or eat half an avocado. Just adding a little of a fat source to each meal will be perfect.
3. Vegetables: anything green, cauliflower, peppers, carrots, tomatoes... just pick some! How much: 2 servings per meal. Yup, that's right. 2.
4. Carbohydrate source: Simple: sugary drinks, soda, fruit juice, muffins, bagels, soday, sugary desserts, and soda. Complex: rice, quinoa, oatmeal, lentils, whole grain bread and pasta (real whole grain, not "enriched wheat flour), sweet potatoes or white potatoes, fruits.
How much: That depends. For those looking to lose weight, any simple carbohydrate intake should be concentrated around the workout window, with the rest of the day with smaller servings of complex carbs. Those who either train for endurance sports (triathletes, cross country, etc.) have a manual-labor job, or have a hard time gaining weight in general, should have higher intake of carbs throughout the day (with more complex carbs than simple).
Every meal should have at least 1-3. Number 4 is, as mentioned, dependent on your goals, training, and metabolic needs. Your choices are not limited to the above mentioned, but are a good starting point.
What about snacks? If you're hungry, eat! Try to include at least 2 of 1-4 above in each snack.
How often should you eat? When you're hungry. There are no hard and fast rules for how many meals and snacks one should eat during the day. If you're training hard, you will be hungry, therefore make sure you're eating enough throughout the day that you have enough energy to complete workouts and recover from them. Pay special attention to your protein intake. Muscles require protein to rebuild so make sure you're providing ample supply before and after your workouts!
Nutrition has become overcomplicated in the past few years. It doesn't have to be. Eat lots of vegetables and fruits, eat lean proteins every day, control the carbohydrate intake depending on goals, and have a sweet thing here and there.
Potentially - or probably - the biggest barrier keeping most people from making progress on their goals (fitness, build muscle, fat loss, strength, etc...) is their own state of mind. That feeling like "Oh, people are watching me, so I don't want to [X]..." [look like I'm trying], [fail], [struggle], [make a weird face], etc. But, all this self-limiting behavior successfully accomplishes is self-limiting progress. I've trained all over the place in a multitude of different environments and have often been seen doing off-the-beaten-path type exercises. But, even I sometimes get a little nervous about the liklihood of drawing attention to myself. When that hesitation kicks in, here are my top 3 reminders to keep my self-limiting behavior out of the way of accomplishing my goals:
1. No one is looking. Most of the time no one cares what you're up to in your daily workout and they really are not watching. Trust in this first rule.
2. Don't let your assumptions of someone else's perceptions affect your behavior. Okay, so you're doing something attention grabbing (read: weird) in your workout. Yes, you will probably catch a few eyes, so if #1 isn't working for you. Then ask yourself this: "So, someone is watching me train, why would I stop just because they're watching?" They're probably watching to learn something new. That's what I've found over the years. No one has ever approached me to tell me I'm "wrong" - rather it usually means I'll get to have a conversation with someone new about whatever it is I'm doing. They want to learn!
3. The world doesn't revolve around you. At least in the realm of weight training - I can't actually speak for other areas. This is really the bottom line. Whether you like drawing attention to yourself or dread it, the world doesn't revolve around you. So, keep your eyes down and power through on taking a small step towards whatever is going to help you accomplish your next goal.
The point in training for fitness, building muscle, or strength is making progress towards personal goals and achieving things you, personally have never achieved before. Don't allow those self-limiting behaviors derail your success!
Ahhh how exciting, my first blog post as a coach at SAPT. I’ve got my cup of coffee, The Best Around playing on loop and I’ll be doing hip mobilities throughout writing this blog entry. Why? Because The Best Around was originally supposed to be for a Rocky III montage, but was replaced by Eye of the Tiger and I think Joe Esposito deserves more credit for the inspiration it brings…. Why am I doing the hip mobilities every 30 minutes while at a desk? Easy, because I want to squat later. Mobility: A Prerequisite to Lifting Heavy Weights
If you’re reading this blog, then it’s obvious you want to get strong, build muscle, and improve fitness in each and everyone of your workouts. You’re the type of person who sees exercises like deficit deadlifts, deep squats and overhead presses and gets as giddy as a little schoolgirl at the thought of trying it in your next workout. You look up the technique, take a few mental notes, begin with light weight for a warm-up, and then finally drop butt-to-heels into that heavy squat.
But what happened? You thought you would drive up out of the hole like superman initiating his flight takeoff, but instead you feel your lower back light up like Iron Man’s arc reactor.
You didn’t check your mobility prerequisites for that exercise did you?
Position is Power
Every exercise requires a certain degree of mobility in particular joints in order to execute the movement safely. If the mobility is not there, then the body will look for a way around it to accomplish that movement. By doing this you are putting yourself into a compromised position, and what’s worse is that if you’re doing it with training, you are reinforcing a compromised motor pattern. Practice doesn’t make perfect; practice makes permanent.
Not only are you actually weaker in these compromised positions, but you are more likely to injure yourself. This needs to be fixed before you can get strong. You can only squat so much weight with a Hyena Butt. You must work on gaining enough mobility to get into whatever position a given exercise/movement requires, WITHOUT compromise, and then you can become strong.
I’m sure you’re probably wishing I’d just shut up and tell you how to get mobile, right? Well too bad! Because first it is more important to understand WHAT needs to be mobile.
Joint mobility is the degree to which a joint can move through a range of motion. When a joint becomes less mobile, it becomes more stable as it can’t move. (Note: Stability is not a bad thing! You just need it in the right places.)
Though it’s not black and white, many of our joints are meant to be mobile while others are stable. Sometimes, due to activities (or lack thereof) in our daily life, injuries or even the shoes we wear, joints that should be mobile become stable and throw off our body’s movements. When these joints that should be mobile are then locked down, joints that are stable then become mobile to compensate for the lost motion. This relationship is constant throughout the entire body and it’s the reason you will see lots of errors in movements that can’t be fixed with simple queues.
The Joint-by-Joint Approach outlines this mobility-stability relationship between the joints and how it could affect movement. Essentially it conveys that the following joints need more mobility or stability:
Arch of Foot – Stability
Lumbar spine- Stability
Thoracic spine- Mobility
Gleno-humeral(shoulder) joint- Mobility
Does anyone else see the pattern here? Our body alternates the needs of our joints from head to toe. So what do you think happens if one of these is thrown off? Then the pattern is broken and they all get thrown off to some extent. If someone is flat footed, they will probably have poor foot stability and it will cause their feet to collapse in movement. This results in a loss of ankle mobility over time, and their knees will almost always cave in when they squat. The reason for this is because their knees are now looking for mobility. The same can be true for losing stability. Lets say Yoga Sue starts stretching out her lower back more and more because she’s been having back pain. By creating more mobility in her lumbar spine through stretching, she is reinforcing her body to move through her lower back rather than hips and will eventually lose hip mobility. I’ll touch more on the stability component in my next post.
If the stability/mobility pattern is thrown off, then it will compromise your movements and thus jeopardize the intended benefits of lifting heavy things and your training sessions will look like poop.
So I’m sure you’ve spent the past few minutes form checking your squat depth in a mirror and are now begging for the answer of how to become a mobility master. Have patience grasshopper; first you must find your weakness.
Step 1. Find your limiting factor
This step will most likely need a coach or knowledgable training partner. You must determine what joint is immobile and causing the issue in your movement. You can use a movement screen for this or you can informally just breakdown the movement to see when the poop hits the fan.
Step 2. Determine WHY it’s your limiting factor
Joints can become immobile for several reasons. More often then not it is because your joint is stuck in one position for a long period of time due to your lifestyle. If you find this to be the culprit you’re going to need to make some changes before you can start seeing results. You may have to stop wearing those 5 inch heels or you may have to start getting up and walking from your desk every 20 minutes.
Sometimes a joint can become immobile due to overuse in a certain range of motion. You will see this a lot in runners or any other athlete that goes through repetitive motion. If this were the finding, you would just go straight to step 3.
Occasionally you may find that a joint is immobile because it is protecting something. This will take a more educated diagnosis, but if that is the case, then DO NOT MOBILIZE IT. If muscles aren’t firing right or there is a structural issue causing instability, the body’s natural response is to lock that joint down to keep it from being unstable and causing more damage.
Step 3. Soft Tissue Work
You now know what’s immobile and why. You’re about to start training, now it’s time to mobilize it. Foam rolling is one of the fastest ways to increase mobility of a certain joint. Simply roll on the muscles that influence that joint and try to workout the super-happy-fun knots you find. If you’re new to this use a foam roller, if you’re one bad dude, try a PVC pipe or lax balls. If it’s your thoracic spine, try using a t-spine peanut.
Step 4. Mobilities
You’re going to have to lengthen the tissues holding down the joint at some point. I find it most effective to do in the warm up, right after foam rolling and even throw a few into the workouts. If it’s pre or intra-workout, then you will want to use dynamic movements to accomplish this. Otherwise feel free to do the good ol’ fashioned static holds.
Step 5. Activate
If you take one thing away from this process, I want it to be this: Mobility will not stick, unless stability is created somewhere else. If you’re trying to loosen up your hip flexors, do some glute work after you stretch them. If you’re trying to improve ankle mobility, do some dorsiflexion exercises after you stretch the calf. If you’re trying to improve adductor length, do some core stabilization exercises right after loosening up the adductors. I think you get the picture.
Step 6. Use It
In order to keep your joints mobile, you must consistently use the full range of motion in them when you train. This means going to full depth in a squat, locking out that deadlift and overhead press and really grinding the lateral lunges. If you want to get fancy with it, you can even use exercises that are known for creating excessive range of motion like Bulgarian split squats, windmills and arm bars. Whatever you decide to do, don’t cheat yourself and use the full range.
Step 7. Dominate
If you consistently follow the previous steps, you should be in a good position to rip some weight off the floor. Some issues will take longer to fix then others, but be religious with your mobility work and it will pay off to help you feel and perform better.
How is it some build muscle with, seemingly, little to no effort? Putting meat on the bones comes easy for some: they’ll do a couple curls and drink a glass of milk then BAM, they’re swole. For the rest of us, it can feel like we have to grind and suffer day in and day out for an ounce or two of muscle. The methods used and the advice given can sometimes become overwhelming.
Do this program... “Take these supplements... Eat 22.75 grams of protein every 76 minutes... Train each bodypart once every ten days.”
Sometimes you’ll hear fitness experts give advice that can be contradictory or confusing, or just plain unreasonable for you and your lifestyle.
Amongst the sea of information on the quest for building muscle out there, here are my top five tips for beefing up.
1. Make Strength a Priority
If your goal is purely to build muscle and you couldn’t care less about your deadlift max, that’s great! Good for you, and to each their own. However, understand that as you get stronger you can increase the muscle building stimulus by utilizing greater loads. We know we need time under tension via resistance training to stimulate growth, but if you continue using the same loading schemes over a period of time your body will eventually adapt and the stimulus dies.
How do we avoid this? Focus on getting stronger! Have a handful of “indicator lifts” to use to track progress. These lifts are ideally big compound lifts that you strive to become stronger in. Personally I use the the biggie compound exercises: back squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press to track my progress in strength. Other good options to use are any squat exercise variation (front, box, goblet), push-ups, pull-ups, single leg movements, row exercise variations, prowler work, or farmer’s walks. Heck, if your goal is to grow enormous biceps focus on getting stronger at the curl.
The point is we want to look back at our own records after months and years pass and see that we are capable of throwing more weights around. If you make awesome improvements in strength over a significant length of time I’d be willing to bet that you’ve made progress in your lean body mass as well.
This is where we see a big difference in the typical comparison of how a bodybuilder trains versus how a powerlifter By joining a RED franchise, you could earn in excess of ?1,300 more per year than at other national truck driving schools – and significantly more than if you choose to operate as an independent instructor. trains. The bodybuilder, whose primary goal is to build muscle, will utilize a ton of volume into their training. A bodybuilder"s workout for his (or her) chest may do something along the lines of the following:
DB Incline Press
The powerlifter, on the other hand, may work up to a heavy single on the bench, do a few sets of rows and go home.
Now this is a very simplified comparison of the two training disciplines but you get the message: if mass is your goal, you need more volume in your workouts.
More volume, however, does NOT necessarily mean that you have to be lifting in the 10-20 range for each exercise. If you did that, you’d be sacrificing too much tension to get those reps in. Try some different set x rep schemes that will allow for significant volume with moderately heavy weight. 7 sets of 4, 5 sets of 5, and 4 sets of 6 are all good options, especially for your “main movement” of the day.
3. Eat Better
This is a problem for a lot of younger athletes that stay very active year-round. You need food to live, and you need food for energy, but you need even MORE food to build muscle.
Be honest with yourself! You want to be bigger and stronger but all you had for breakfast was… nothing?! Re-think that strategy.
The nutritional side of muscle gain is underestimated too often, and it needs to be a consistent effort everday. If you eat like an infant all week, but binge at a Chinese buffet on Saturday it doesn’t count. Eat a lot of good food every single day.
Sometimes it’s not an issue of eating enough food, but eating enough of the right foods. A diet consistent with cookies and cokes probably won’t be the key to building a big strong body that you work so hard for.
Keep a food log and make sure you’re eating right. If your still confused and overwhelmed, just have Kelsey analyze your diet and she’ll tell you everything you’re doing wrong.
4. Aim for a Horomonal Response
Your hormones are the key to growth. Without them we’d be nothing. No need to go into a complex physiology lesson right now, but here are some quick tips you should keep in mind.
Testosterone: Stimulated by lifting heavy weights. Hit it hard and heavy, and get adequate rest between sets.
Human Growth Hormone: Stimulated by moderate weights, higher volume and lower rest periods.
Cortisol: Evil. Catabolic stress hormone that doesn’t want you to gain muscle. Keep it low by getting enough sleep and doing whatever helps you de-stress your life.
5. Be Aggressive!
Building muscle takes hard work and focus. You can’t just casually hit the gym once every couple of weeks and expect huge gains. Lift and eat with a purpose, and be stubbornly consistent. If you hit a plateau, change something up and keep grinding.
Make your goal important, and put in the necessary effort it takes to make it happen!