Stop Sabotaging Your Workouts!

I love this article, written by Beachbody’s Blog writer, Julie Stewart. I especially love mistake #2. I have often wondered why I see so many in gyms with that hunched posture. Lifting weights, when done properly, should IMPROVE your posture!

“It doesn’t matter if you’ve been working out for a week or a decade—odds are you’re making a handful of common mistakes that are holding you back. We’re also willing to bet that most of them aren’t your fault—gyms, exercise communities, and even some popular fitness programs are rife with well-intended advice that’s rooted more in bro-science than real-world research. That ends today. Purge the following mistakes from your training program to accelerate your gains and squeeze out of every rep.

Mistake #1: You stick to a routine
The rapid gains you enjoy at the beginning of a training program will eventually taper if you keep doing the same workouts month after month (or year after year). “The body adapts to new stresses quickly,” says Yunus Barisik, C.S.C.S., author of the blog Next Level Athletics. Your job—and the goal of any good exercise plan—is to make sure that adaptation (also known as muscle growth) never stops. “And the way to do that is by regularly varying what you do,” says Barisik.

The fix: If you’re a beginner, mix things up every two to three months. If you’re a veteran, you’ll need to do so even sooner. “Those changes don’t have to be major,” says Barisik. Occasionally swapping new exercises into your workouts (or trying a completely new workout program) is a smart idea. “But even minor tweaks—changing your grip, lifting pace, foot position, or rest periods—can lead to big gains by not only working muscles you normally miss, but also working the muscles you normally target in new ways,” says Barisk.

Mistake #2: You forget about your back
In their pursuit of head turning muscle, many people focus only on those they can see in the mirror—pecs, shoulders, arms, and abs. “And that’s a problem,” says Barisik. “Overemphasizing the front side of your body can lead to muscular imbalances, a hunched posture, and an increased risk of injury.” Since most people are already “anterior dominant”—meaning they more frequently use the muscles on the front of their bodies—such one-sided training often worsens existing postural and performance issues.

The fix: Stop using a mirror to gauge your progress—it’s the muscles you can’t see that you should focus on. To balance your upper body, perform two pulling exercises (chinup, row) for every pushing exercise, such as the overhead press or bench press, says Barisik. To balance your lower body, perform two sets of hamstring-dominant exercises, like the deadlift or kettlebell swing, for every set of a quad-dominant exercise, like the squat or lunge. After a few months (read: once your posture and musculature balance out), you can switch to one-to-one ratios, says Barisik.

Mistake #3: You train too hard (or not hard enough)
More isn’t always better when it comes to building strength and losing fat. “Most people don’t know how to safely push their limits,” says Michael Wood, C.S.C.S., Chief Fitness Officer of Koko FitClub. “You might think you’re working out efficiently, but few people actually optimize their training stimulus.” While you need to challenge your muscles to make them grow, you never want to push them to the point where you inhibit their ability to repair themselves. Why? Because when it comes to muscle, repair equals growth. On the other hand, if you don’t push your muscles hard enough, you won’t trigger growth at all. Your goal: To hit the intensity sweet spot where you maximize results without compromising recovery.

The Fix: If you’re lifting weights, always stop two reps short of in your last set of an exercise. Those reps provide no additional growth stimulus, and might actually slow muscle growth by extending the time needed for recovery. That said, you shouldn’t have more than two reps left in you, as that’s a sign you aren’t pushing hard enough. If you’re doing intervals or circuits, use a heart rate monitor to fine-tune effort and rest. Determine your max HR by multiplying your age by .7 and subtracting that number from 208. During work periods, build up your intensity to 75 to 85 percent of your max, says Wood. During rest periods, let it fall to 65 percent of your max HR before beginning your next round.

Mistake #4: You don’t dial in your diet
You’ve likely heard the adage “You can’t outrun a bad diet.” It’s true, so heed it. If your eating habits aren’t aligned with your fitness goals, you’ll never hit them. “Many active people eat too many carbs—especially simple carbs like sugar—and don’t pay nearly enough attention to fat and protein,” says Bob Seebohar, M.S., R.D., CSSD, C.S.C.S., a sport dietitian and owner and founder of eNRG Performance.

The fix: Step one in upgrading your diet is to reduce your consumption of added sugar (according to the government’s new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, such foods should comprise no more than 10 percent of your diet). Eat at least two servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables a day. “And make sure every meal contains a balance of protein, fat, and fiber,” says Seebohar. “Neglecting these suggestions will yield poor blood sugar control, higher insulin levels, increased fat storage, and decreased fat burning.” Increasing your protein intake is particularly important. In a study by the U.S. Military Nutrition Division, people who ate twice the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein—1.6 grams instead of .8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight—preserved more muscle as they lost weight than those who stuck to the RDA. If you weigh 150 pounds, your daily protein quota is 109 grams.”

I hate indecision….

I hate being between workout programs. If you give me a schedule, I will follow it. Without a schedule, I’m left with that big question each morning, “What workout shall I do today?”

One fantastic tip I’ve read recently is that each decision takes energy. Today we make more myworkoutprogramsdecisions than ever! We need to automate everything we can, so that we can give the energy to decisions that require it. Without that workout schedule, I tend to go easy and avoid those challenging workouts! It’s that daily struggle of does my body really need to take it easy or does my mind just want to take it easy? I think when you suffer from any illness or injury, it can be easy to fall into not pushing yourself. I still do not know what workout I will choose today. Maybe I should write the names on the back of a deck of cards, shuffle the deck, and choose one! I will definitely be looking through the workout schedules at Team Beachbody to find a nice hybrid. Maybe that is what I need! Some variety each day but a set schedule!

What do you do to motivate yourself when you’re not quite feeling that challenging workout?

Exercise and the Brain

Brain_power

I just started reading the book Spark – the revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain by John J. Ratey, MD. I will be posting tidbits from the book over the coming weeks. I was happy to see the following study, One Twin Exercises, the Other Doesn’t, reported in the NYTimes that corroborates what I’m reading in SPARK. In this study, 10 sets of identical twins were studied in which their fitness activities had diverged in the prior 3 years. You had one active twin and one inactive twin. I was shocked by the statement the twins diets were quite similar. I would have thought diet played a larger role.

“It turned out that these genetically identical twins looked surprisingly different beneath the skin and skull. The sedentary twins had lower endurance capacities, higher body fat percentages, and signs of insulin resistance, signaling the onset of metabolic problems. (Interestingly, the twins tended to have very similar diets, whatever their workout routines, so food choices were unlikely to have contributed to health differences.)

The twins’ brains also were unalike. The active twins had significantly more grey matter than the sedentary twins, especially in areas of the brain involved in motor control and coordination.

Presumably, all of these differences in the young men’s bodies and brains had developed during their few, brief years of divergent workouts, underscoring how rapidly and robustly exercising — or not — can affect health, said Dr. Urho Kujala, a professor of sports and exercise medicine at the University of Jyvaskyla who oversaw the study.”

While this is a very small study, it does show that it is never too late to have a huge impact on how your body functions, even your brain.

Sjogren’s and Pilates???

Today, I did the Pilates Fix routine from the 21 Day Fix workout program by Beachbody. I am in love with Pilates! This routine worked every muscle in my body but in a relaxing, slow burn kind of way. It felt restorative rather than taxing. So it was quite fitting that a fellow Sjogie should post the following blog post, about a dancer battling Sjogren’s. She also owns and runs her own fitness studio teaching Pilates and yoga!

Tia Cassady writes:

Since Jacqueline’s discovery of Sjogren’s she can no longer professionally compete in ariel fitness. Jacqueline can not train like she used to and can not keep up with the other competitors as her body gets fatigued sooner, her joints are stiff at times, she gets easily bruised and the recovery time is much longer than most dancers and athletes. Jacqueline has decided to not get on medication at this time and is approaching the disease in a holistic manner for now. Jacqueline is taking supplements, made changes in her diet, exercising daily, attending physical therapy, massage, chiropractor and acupuncture treatments. Jacqueline is more determined than ever to continue her passion for dance and helping others.

….Jacqueline decided to rehabilitate herself through safe and effective exercises on her own through methods such as Yoga and Pilates.

 

As time marches ever closer to my third Spartan Sprint, I am reminded of last years race where fatigue, weakness in my hands compromised my performance. It was frustrating, and yes, I will say devastating, but I pushed past it and finished the race with an excellent time in my age group. I’m approaching this race with the thought of training hard and doing my best. It’s day to day at times with how my body feels. I am hoping with better nutrition and nailing down my supplements that my body will do what my mind wants it to do ….and that’s to climb that darn rope and not have to do BURPEES!!!!

So what is Sjogren’s?

Sjögren’s is a chronic autoimmune disease in which people’s white blood cells attack their moisture-producing glands. Today, as many as four million Americans are living with this disease.

Although the hallmark symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth, Sjögren’s may also cause dysfunction of other organs such as the kidneys, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, and the central nervous system. Patients may also experience extreme fatigue and joint pain and have a higher risk of developing lymphoma.

With upwards of 4,000,000 Americans suffering from Sjögren’s, it is one of the most prevalent autoimmune disorders. Nine out of 10 patients are women.

We all have mountains to climb. You just have to find the best path and put one foot in front of the other and get moving!

How is your balance? Does it match your age?

My balance was first tested in P90X with Yoga X. Standing on one leg was very difficult. My balance has been further tested and improved in P90X2 and Asylum Vol 1 and 2. When Shaun T asks you to stand on one leg and then close your eyes and you feel as if you’re on a rocking boat, Houston there is problem!

Here is a wonderful article by Jane Brody which appeared in the NY Times discussing balance and aging, a simple do-it-yourself test, and how to improve your  balance!

Mr. McCredie wonders why balance is not talked about in fitness circles as often as strength training, aerobics and stretching. He learned that the sense of balance begins to degrade in one’s 20s and that it is downhill — literally and figuratively — from there unless steps are taken to preserve or restore this delicate and critically important ability to maintain equilibrium.

But while certain declines with age are unavoidable, physical therapists, physiatrists and fitness experts have repeatedly proved that much of the sense of balance can be preserved and even restored through exercises that require no special equipment or training. These exercises are as simple as standing on one foot while brushing your teeth or walking heel-to-toe with one foot directly in front of the other.

How good is your balance? Do the self-test and find out! That was a difficult test with your eyes closed. I was much more successful barefoot – going over 1:21 on my right leg and 34 seconds no my left. Wearing my cross-training shoes, I did 28secs and 24 secs on my right and left legs, respectively. That puts me in the 20-49yr old category. I’m 46yrs old so I definitely want to maintain this score!

“Remember, balance is a motor skill,” Dr. Moffat, professor of physical therapy at New York University, said in an interview. “To enhance it, you have to train your balance in the same way you would have to train your muscles for strength and your heart for aerobic capacity.”

And what else does Dr. Moffat recommend? Tai Chi! Beachbody has you covered with our program Tai Cheng which, I’m starting today with my 10yr old to help reduce his klutz-factor which he inherited from me!

I found this video on youtube which uses a scale from the RealAge website.

“Start free STANDING on hard surface with eyes open and two barefoot, lift one leg up to 45-degree angle bend in knee, THEN close eyes & HOLD this POSITION for as long as you can without falling, fidgeting, opening eyes or teetering too much. Repeat 3X or more, take average time & check chart.”

Balance Time Balance-Based RealAge
4 seconds 70 years
5 seconds 65 years
7 seconds 60 years
8 seconds 55 years
9 seconds 50 years
12 seconds 45 years
16 seconds 40 years
22 seconds 30-35 years
28 seconds 25-30 years

Worthless Fitness Tips You Probably Follow

We all have certain notions about fitness that may or may not be true. I thought this article did a good job of giving solid answers.

 

If you want to see how your knowledge base fairs, check out this article by Lisa Hoehn after answering  true or false for the following questions.

1. Always stretch before your workout.

2. Push through the pain.

3. To lose weight and fat, focus on resistance training.

4. A cool down is absolutely necessary.

5. You can drop pounds and inches — without dropping a bead of sweat!

6. It’s always better to do vigorous workouts than it is to exercise at a moderate-intensity.

7. It doesn’t matter if you do cardio or weight training first.

8. If you’re feeling sore after a workout, pop an ibuprofen.

9. If you have bad knees, do your running on a treadmill.

 

How did you do? Leave me  a message in the comments!

(For more info on #8, check out this article at Runner’s Connect.)