Category Archives: Weight training

YOU AND YOUR TRAINER: IT’S A WIN WIN PARTNERSHIP

traintwo  This week on the blog, instead of writing about fitness and fashion, I feel compelled to write about fitness and how it relates to me personally. In sharing this with you it is my hope that you will see exercise and your relationship with your trainer as so much more than just a means to getting into a pair of pants or ready for a family reunion.

Life is not always sunshine and roses – you know that. A lifetime of ups and downs can sometimes leave you feeling beaten up and , sad and maybe like you have no sense of control. I know this has been the case for me, but as far as I can look back the one thing that has kept me from giving up has been exercise.   In all seriousness, no matter what the crisis was, working out has always made me a stronger person physically and mentally and I always felt better after a workout. I felt so adamant about this that I was always encouraging friends, relatives etc. to use exercise as a tool to not only look better but to feel better.   It eventually became clear to me that this was the career for me and frankly, I’m very good at what I do…. because I BELIEVE in what I do. As a trainer I want the best for my clients, I want them to succeed. I leave them feeling great and am happy for them ; high-fives all around! If they are having a bad day, working out with me will be a bright spot because they did something good for themselves and for that hour were in control of their life. When life is chaotic, that bit of control can be just enough to help someone get through the day. In fact, I believe in the exercise-client-trainer relationship so much I hired my own trainer. When I am finished working out with my trainer I feel accomplished, happy and….sweaty!!! All good things! And one of the best realizations is that There is a bond between trainer and client. Each person wants to do the best for the other. An inner strength can pop out of nowhere because you want to do your best and succeed, and that goes for both parties. Working out brings confidence and confidence can get you through a bevy of stressful situations, as I know all too well.

Time to get a little personal, and I’m not doing this to generate sympathy, I’m sharing this because my workouts, my trainer and that little slice of control has been THE thing that has helped me to keep my head up. This year has left me with 2 deceased dogs, a loss of a home and, oh yeah, a soon to be ex- husband….he somehow landed at the end of this sentence (wink wink) . I never saw this coming and there were many times I thought “How can I even work and encourage and be enthusiastic for my clients? How can I function without knowing where I will live and what will become of my life?” The truth is that my clients were the reason I got through it! My clients were my biggest supporters who made me feel important and worthy – I was helping them and that in turn helped me. And the decision to move my body every day, even when I didn’t want to get out of bed, helped me to make sense of what was happening. I was able to see the bigger picture. I took my tired self and started hiking again and getting stronger. A fire was lit and I made it work. I can thank my trainer and my clients for that (and of course my wonderful friends and colleagues). This is a work in progress, but I know for a fact that exercise will keep me on the right track. We have all faced adversity and will continue to do so, but the moral of this story is that if you believe in yourself and your abilities, you will be able to conquer the obstacles and that the best medicine is to take care of yourself by moving your body every single day. When you have a trainer in your corner you know that there is always going to be someone who does believe in you. When life is hitting you hard don’t run in the other direction, instead run through the obstacles! Keep moving and your head will clear and you will be able to make decisions. Speaking of running, we will talk sports bras soon !! HA And don’t forget to high-five your trainer!!!

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Training Your Biceps Effectively

By: Geoff Rubin, Fitness Propelled, CPT/CIFT/TRX II

I think it would be fair to say that many of us training fanatics are “Biceps” obsessed.   “Over the past several years , biceps exercises have ranked among the Top 10 most searched moves on Google’s annual Zeitgeist list” (Idea fitness Journal). With such an obsession over that bulging bump in our right and left arms, I felt it interesting to report on a study that examined the effectiveness of eight of the most popular movements used to work the biceps brachii.

The Study, conducted by John Porcari, PhD at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, compiled a listing of exercises that targeted the biceps. These exercises were the cable curl, barbell curl, concentration curl, chin-up, EZ curl (both wide and narrow grip), incline curl and finally the preacher curl.

Examining, 16 healthy female and male volunteers ages 18-24. Researchers set a baseline by having the subjects complete a one-repetition maximum (1RM) for each movement. Electrodes were fixed onto the biceps brachii, anterior deltoid and brachioradialis of each subject as to measure the total muscle activity via a wireless electromyography (EMG) machine. Then, subjects completed a maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) by performing an isometric one-arm cable curl. Finally, researchers randomly assigned four more biceps exercises for the subjects to complete in order to garner the data for their study.

The Results:

Compared to the rest, the concentration curl came out on top, eliciting nearly 90% MVC, with the preacher curl showing as the least effective. According to Porcari, it is important to note that when training the biceps, other muscles such as the anterior deltoid and brachioradialis can become recruited in the lift, effectively taking a portion of the load away from the biceps and hence reducing the effectiveness of the lift. This is where teaching proper lifting form while promoting each type of biceps curl is essential.

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Sources:

  • Idea Fitness Journal – September 2014
  • Picture from – onlymyhealth.com

3 Fast Twitch Muscle Exercises to Improve Running Performance

By: Geoff Rubin, Fitness Propelled, CPT/CIFT/TRX II

Improving running performance is multi-faceted; the aim of this article is to focus on exercises related to fast twitch muscle fibers and explains a general overview of their function.

Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers:

Type II fibers are involved in any activity that includes a quick explosive movement or the rapid development of power. Most common applicable example would be football players and track and field athletes.   Type II fibers develop more power then Type I or slow twitch muscle fibers because the Type IIx fiber can contract 10 times faster than the Type I fiber. The more adept you become at recruiting your Type II fibers; the more power you can develop. This leads to faster sprint times and decreased mile times for more focused short distance runs.

Two Types of Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers:

1) Type IIa (Fast Twitch, Oxidative-Glycolytic)

  • High number of mitochondria
  • Can use both fat stores and glycogen stores for energy
  • Resistant to fatigue and recover quickly
  • Good for fast, repetitive, low-intensity activity. Bodybuilders possess high numbers of Type IIa muscle fibers, and research suggests they play a big role in muscle size.

2) Type IIx (Fast Twitch, Non-Oxidative)

  • Low number of mitochondria
  • Large in diameter
  • Fast fatiguing
  • Good for high-intensity, large-power output, such as track/field events and power lifting.

Training for Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers:

There are a number of ways to increase your ratio of Type II fibers—heavy strength training, speed training, plyometric training and Olympic lift training. Training does a few things:

  1. Hypertrophy or growth of the Type II fibers, increasing their power output.
  2. Help recruit, put them into applicable use of Type II fibers faster.
  3. Change Type I fibers to Type II fibers.

Fast-Twitch Muscle Workouts:

1) Dumbbell reverse lunges with quick switches utilizing jumps:

Preparation:

  • Stand holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides, with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Ensure you have at least a few feet of clearance behind you.
  • Start with your chest out, head up, and a slight bend in your knees.

Exercise:

Step backward with your right leg, landing on the ball of the foot, then bend both knees to lower yourself to the floor. (Make sure to step back far enough so your front knee is behind the toes at the bottom of the movement.) When your front thigh is parallel with the floor, extend your knees and hips to stand back up to the start position. Alternate legs with jumps or quick transitions every rep.

2) Box jumps w/ kettlebell:

Preparation:

  • Obtain a plyometric box between 12-36 inches, depending on your abilities.
  • Grab a kettlebell where you can do 8-12 repetitions rather quickly.
  • Ensure you have enough room to safely land and clear jumps. Preferably 5ft by 5ft.

Exercise:

Assume an athletic position, with your feet about shoulder-width apart, at a comfortable distance from the box. Start the box jump by quickly getting into a quarter squat while hinging at the hips to engage the hamstrings and gluteus. Place and keep your hands at the crest of the kettlebell, so both hands are holding the bell. Hold the kettlebell close to your chest, just below chin level. Then, forcefully extend your hips, swing your arms and push your feet though the floor to propel yourself onto the box. Focus on landing lightly on top of the box with your knees slightly above 90 degrees with your chest up. Hold for two to three seconds, stand tall, and step back down. Repeat.

3) Deadlift followed by a squat jumps

Preparation:

  • Set an Olympic straight bar on the ground and load it with appropriate weight.
  • Ensure your space is clear and that you have enough room to work.

Exercise

Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing straight ahead or slightly outward (no wider than 11 and 1 o’clock). The balls of the feet should line up under the bar. With knees slightly bent and hands gripping the bar slightly outside of legs, hinge forward from hips. With the bar close to shins, keep head up, eyes looking forward, chest out, and back flat. Inhale. Keeping the bar close to the body, exhale as you work to straighten the legs — drive through the heels, not the toes — and bring the weight up past knees. Keep core engaged throughout the entire movement (this helps protect the spine) and finish by thrusting the hips into alignment with the feet and squeezing your glutes. Maintaining a straight back, slowly hinge forward at the hips (allow knees to bend a little at the same time) and lower the bar back to the ground. That is one rep.

For the squat jumps, step back from your deadlifting bar, set your feet shoulder width apart. Lower yourself down to where hips / gluteus is loaded towards your rear. Bring your bottom to knee level and thrust straight up landing tall onto the toes then reset. Repeat.  

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Sources:

Josh Williams – 3 ways to develop fast-twitch muscle

Bill Rom – Workouts That Increase Speed & Train Fast Twitch Muscles

Anton Reid, Demand Media- How to Develop Fast-Twitch Leg Muscles

Google images

 

3 Lower-Body Exercises to Improve Running Efficiency

By: Geoff Rubin, Fitness Propelled, CPT/CIFT/TRX II

Running is a total body kinetic chain exercise; however, we know that sustaining and enduring through a run, holds a primary focus on the core and lower body. Greater strength does equal greater endurance.  In order to build what is now commonly referred to as functional strength as applied to running technique we need to emphasize low body conditioning with a focus on lower back strength, core strength, and the gluteus.

Below are three exercises to add to your overall lower body strength training routine.

 Exercises:

  • Supine Core Ball Leg Lifts:

Why do it: Builds lower back strength; towards preventing back injury. Boosts core strength and efficacy.

How to: Start by lying in the supine position (on your back) on a workout mat. The legs should be straight and the palms should be face down under the buttocks. This will assist the pelvis with leverage as you initiate the leg raise. Next, with the feet together squeeze the core ball w/ your heels and inner thighs lifting the legs approximately 15 to 20 inches off the ground. Slowly lower the legs to the starting position and repeat the exercise. Emphasize breathing out as the legs go up.

 

  • Supine Core ball Figure-4 Glute Bridge:

Why do it: Your glutes help stabilize your hips while running. This exercise is designed to wake up your gluteus and create a backside that is both strong and supportive of the upper bodies load.

How to: Lie face up with your arms pressed into the floor by your sides, knees bent, heels on top of the ball. Cross your right ankle on top of your left thigh, turning your right knee out to the side. Press your left heel down into the ball and raise your hips up as high as you can (focus on using your glutes to lift your body, not your hamstrings). Hold for 1 count and then slowly lower. Integrate this exercise into your total rep/set progressions and repeat with the right leg.

 

  • Internal Rotation Leg Press:

Why do it: This move works your abs, hip flexors, gluteus, quadriceps, and inner thighs to help you develop strength that will support your strides.

How to:  Lie faceup with your hands behind head. Bend your knees 90 degrees and flex your feet. Internally rotate your legs, pressing your knees together and turning your heels out to the sides as far as you can. Brace your abs in tight and lift your upper back off the floor. Extend your legs out into a wide ‘V’ position at about 45 degrees, pressing out through your heels. Bend your legs and squeeze your knees back together, keeping your upper back lifted, to return to the starting position.

 

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Sources:

– Brendan Brazier – Endurance Training and Nutrition

– Jessica Smith – The Ultimate Strength Workout for Runners

 

3 Upper Body Strength Training Exercises That Improve Running Performance

ImageBy: Geoff Rubin, CPT/CIFT/TRX II

Our bodies interact as one integrated system. When emphasizing proper running form, we must look at the performance of how the entire kinetic chain is moving, from the toes all the way up. While running, your arms counterbalance the motion of your legs, resulting in saved energy. The swing of the arms helps drive the body forward so the lower body is not doing all the work. Having a strong upper body bolsters a runner’s form when fatigue sets in.

Incorporate the following exercises to build upper body strength in the weight room as to improve running performance. Many of the exercises below focus on unilateral or single limb exercises to replicate proper running form. They also emphasize balance at the shoulder joint, counteracting pronation of the shoulders from the blunders of a sedentary work environment.

1: Single Arm Body-weight Row

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  • How to do it: Use a TRX or barbells set at sternum height. Grab the bar/ handle with one hand using a neutral (palm facing in) grip. Walk your feet forward so that your body comes closer to parallel with the ground. Pull your shoulder back and be sure to keep your body in a straight line throughout the movement. Pull your chest to the bar keep your shoulders square the entire time.

  • How this helps: Rounded shoulders prevent proper running form by limiting the ability of the chest to expand. Incorporating more pulling exercises in your strength training program is one way to even out the chest by retracting and depressing the shoulders. This pulling exercise forces your core and upper body to maintain a square posture similar to the running motion.

2: Torso Rotation with Resistance Band

ImageHow to do it: Secure a cable or resistance band at waist height on your right side. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hold the cable in front of you with straight arms—there should be tension in the cable. Brace your core. Maintaining an erect torso and without moving your legs, rotate your torso so that your hands (and the cable) move to the left while maintaining your original head position. Rotate back to the start and all the way to the right. Switch positions so the cable is on your left side, and repeat.

How this helps: Arm swinging requires movement and a level of rotation in your upper spine. Your body rotates like a pivot.” To ward off fatigue, “we need to make sure the thoracic (upper) spine is nice and loose.” – (Ali Gelani, M.S., CPT)

3) Alternating High Knees

ImageHow to do it: Stand in place with your feet hip-width apart. Drive your right knee toward your chest while keeping your left arm at a 90 degree bend as to connect the two sides and quickly place the leg and arm back to their starting positions. Follow immediately by driving your left knee toward your chest with your right arm bent at a 90 degree angle. Continue to alternate knees with the corresponding arms.

How this helps:  The action of running is a fluid forward progression with minimal trunk rotation. Incorporating the motion of high knees drives the hip forward contracting the quads while emphasizing a counterbalanced motion of the hands. This translates over to the pavement.

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Sources:
Jeremey DuVall, M.S., CPT

NIKKI KIMBALL, M.S.P.T.

Ali Gelani, M.S., CPT

What makes a “Most Excellent” personal training client?

Yes, you read it right.  What exactly does make the “most excellent” personal training client?  Well, this is a tough question, much like the thought process that clients must ask themselves constantly when asking the same question of hiring a personal trainer?  Trainer’s most often don’t always have the same luxury of sifting through clientele until we find that ideal match as we would be out of business quite quickly.  But, speaking from personal experience when symmetry exists between clientele and trainer, RESULTS and sometimes even more precious life bonds are established.  The best way to provide such details is to examine our own experiences with clientele, so let me share a quick story with you where personal training became more than just a career path. 

In March 2013, I met a client of mine Ruth Z.  She came to me with clear directions from her doctor that her lifestyle needed a dramatic change.  Ruth was 250lb’s, had just started a diet plan and was a woman’s size 28′.   On our first session we walked to her community gym and before we could get through our first sequence of exercises she was on bench, feelings as if she couldn’t go on.  I firmly believe at that moment, this is when “life’s gifts are presented”.  Ruth, showed me she was vulnerable and that she had the determination to make positive lifestyle changes.  Through months of committed exercising with Fitness Propelled trainer, Geoff R., demonstrating a no nonsense approach to training, allowing herself to eat and enjoy healthy eating habits, transforming her daily lifestyle to incorporate more movement, and setting mircocycle and mesocycle goals; Ruth’s results now speak for themselves. 

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Not much more needs to be said.  These are the core aspects that I think many trainers are constantly seeking.  I for one am happy that I was in a position to experience them.

What traits do you look for in your clientele? 

Exercise and the Autism population (Idea Fitness Journal – 2013)

As a fitness company that provides exceptional Autism fitness programing, Fitness Propelled found this article to be a phenomenal resource for all.  The article highlights multiple points which we will address below, that provide the reader with insights on how we as Fitness professionals develop the best possible fitness options for young men and women on the Autism spectrum.

Stats: 1 in every 88 children is currently diagnosed somewhere on the Autism spectrum. (Autism Society -2013)

Challenges with Physical Fitness programs:

Many young adults on the Autism spectrum encounter gross motor difficulties such as low muscle tone/strength, poor stability, low endurance, compensatory movement patterning and poor gait (Staples & Reid – 2010)

How to best provide effective programing:

Fitness professionals must emphasize individualized and adapted exercise programs.

Strategies to accomplish this:

– Emphasize training strength and stability in pushing, pulling, squatting and rotation (Foundational movement skills).  Tie these emphasis points into daily life tasks such as, pulling open heavy doors, appropriately picking up toys, rotating and handing off an item from left to right.

Exercise you can put into action: Medicine ball push – throw w/ partner

Step/Goal:

1.  Push-throw with non weighted ball from 3-feet away.

2. Push-throw with non weighted ball from 5-feet away.

3. Push-throw with non weighted ball from 10 feet away.

4. Push-throw with 2 pound medicine ball from 3 feet way.

Address the mind as well as the body:

– Provide clear and concise directions.  Take multi-step directions and break them down into smaller multiple step sequences that will lead you to your desired end result.  

– Don’t negotiate, instead prove a clear and direct option a or option b.  Often you can reward clients for accomplished tasks, however, personally I side against it as it leads to a belief of need reward for accomplished actions. 

References:

– Eric Chessen, MS, Autism Fitness, AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), Autism Society – 2013