Social Acceptance of Mediocrity

Social Acceptance of Mediocrity

I read this article the other day and thought it was just plain awesome. I wanted to share it with everyone to hopefully encourage people to exercise and stay active.

“I have a list of sayings that make my blood curdle, and “hey now, at least they’re up and moving” is close to the top of that list. We’ve all heard it before and probably have said it ourselves, but if you think about it, it’s depressing to see how that saying has become a norm nowadays.
           We now live in a society where doing the bare minimum required to keep your heart beating is supposed to earn you a pat on the back and a sugar-free cupcake (don’t worry, its only 100 calories…guilt free!). Since when did getting off the couch and moving around become an acceptable form of exercise? You may say, “Hey, at least they are moving around”, and yes, you’re right, that is the least they can do–but the problem is that they shouldn’t be stopping there.  Getting off your ass should be the thing you do when you wake up, not the physical highlight of your day.
90% of the time, I hear this saying when discussing those who walk as their main form of exercise. Sorry, but walking 15 minutes is NOT a workout; it’s a warmup for your warmup. Just for comparison, Alexander’s army marched over 5000 miles from Thessaloniki to the Indus river. That isn’t even counting the stops at tourist attractions or the journey home.
How long would this take you at 15 minutes a day?
Seriously, what happened to the grit that people used to have? My grandpa would call those people “the old breed”. When he lived in Africa, he would run 9 miles to school and 9 miles home everyday, with no shoes. See if you can get one of your fellow Americans to do something remotely intense for even 9 minutes before crapping out, but not before they congratulate themselves for at least “getting off the couch”.
Folks, you shouldn’t be fine with doing the least amount of work. Putting in the least amount of effort will get you the least amount of results. It shouldn’t be enough to simply walk around, you should be challenging your limits almost daily. I understand if you have a debilitating injury that limits your mobility, but most people don’t have debilitating injuries, they are just bloated and lazy.”
Directions on walking, in case you forgot.”
Conclusion
I really enjoyed reading this. I see this in the gym all the time. People get dressed in their “workout gear”, grab a sugar loaded gatorade, and sit on the bike and pedal at a slow to moderate pace for 15-20 minutes before calling it a day. 100 calories-burned later and mission accomplished. I get the same reaction when i talk to people about this. “well, at least they are in here trying”. I would much rather have people burn 100 calories playing with their kids or doing something active in the community then doing a moderate cardio routine like this. However, we live in a lazy society where convienience and luxury take priority over physical well being and activity. Do yourself a favor and surround you and your family with a group of people who live an active and healthy lifestyle so they hold you accountable when you say you are going for a 15 minute stationary bike ride and claim it to be a “workout”.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions.

From South Bend,
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The Truth About Stretching And Warming Up

The Truth About Stretching And Warming Up

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
― Mae West

There are many schools of thought with regards to stretching, warming up, and cooling down. Let’s get one thing right before we start. Each individual has different needs and requirements for their own body. There is no universal principle that applies to everyone, whether it be stretching, working out, or eating. The most important aspect is to find out what works best for YOU and refine your craft from there.With that being said, here is the new school of thought about stretching.

“Although it’s often prescribed as an injury-prevention measure, static stretching before a workout might be the worst of all strategies.”

Static stretching before a workout forces your muscles to relax, in effect making them weaker in the short-term. This causes imbalances with surrounding muscle groups which will affect your strength gains and performance along with opening yourself up for injury.

“Static stretching also reduces blood flow to your muscles and decreases the activity of your central nervous system—meaning it inhibits your brain’s ability to communicate with your muscles, which limits your capacity to generate force.”

What To Do Instead

Self-Myofascial Release

Self-myofascial release is a self-massage using objects like foam rollers, medicine balls, or even tennis and golf balls. Performing some SMR prior to training will increase blood flow and oxygen to the muscle. Also, SMR will alleviate any minor soft tissue restrictions that could hinder your performance.

Example: IT band foam roll

  1. Start by lying on your side, support your body weight with your legs and arms, and lie with a foam roller or ball under the upper, outside portion of your thigh – this is the proximal portion of your IT band.
  2. Use your legs and arms to roll the length of your IT band along the ball, traveling right down to just above your knee-joint. As you get closer to your knee, you may feel more tenderness, so be prepared to use your arms and legs to ease pressure off of your IT band.
  3. Complete for 30 seconds/body part.

Dynamic Mobility

Dynamic stretching improves your “active” flexibility, the kind you need in every type of athletic endeavor. Dynamic stretching also excites your central nervous system,  increases blood flow,  and increases strength and power production.

Example: Dynamic Inchworm

  1. Standing with your feet hip-distance apart,  bend at the waist, keeping your legs as straight as possible, until your hands touch the floor about 8 to 12 inches from your feet
  2.  Walk your hands out to pushup position (or extended out in front for shoulder activation as well)
  3.  Walk your feet in toward your hands with short choppy steps. Complete for 15-20 yards.

Muscle Activation

Muscle activation utilizes exercises that improve the mind – muscle connection and ensures that all of the important stabilizer muscles are maximally turned on and functioning properly.

Example: Back bridge with single leg option

  1. Lying on the back with knees bent at 90 degrees, arms extended sideward at 45 degrees and feet on the ground, raise the hips off of the ground until the trunk and thighs form a generally straight line. The spine must not arch to achieve this position.
  2. With the buttocks still up, straighten the left leg until it aligns with the trunk and thigh. Don’t let the trunk and pelvis sag on the unsupported side. Hold five seconds, and then switch to the other leg.
  3. Repeat for one minute. If the spine begins to sag, arch, or tilt, lower to the starting position, rest for 3 to 5 seconds, then, try again

CNS Activation (Central Nervous System)

In the CNS Activation stage, fast and explosive movements are utilized to continue to prepare the body for a workout These types of activities are heavily CNS-dominant and therefore ensure that your CNS is primed and ready for the more intense lifts to follow.

Example: Box Jumps

  1. Stand in front of a sturdy box or bench, your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Bend your knees, then jump onto the box, landing softly.
  3.  Step down to return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 8-12 reps.

When To Incorporate Static Stretching

“Improvements in flexibility are specific to your body position and speed of movement. So if you do only static stretching—as most poeple are advised—you’ll primarily boost your flexibility in that exact posture while moving at a slow speed. While certainly effective if you’re a contortionist, it has limited carryover to the flexibility you need in sports and weight training, which require your muscles to stretch at fast speeds in various body positions.”

Abandoning static stretching all together isn’t necessary. Most studies show to increase general flexibility you need to stretch twice a day, every day. Any less frequently and you won’t maintain your gains in flexibility. This is why most flexibility plans don’t work. A structured plan of post workout static stretching and stretching before bed(15-20 seconds/stretch) can help with your overall well being and general functionality as an upright human.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions or comments.

From South Bend,

Kevin

The Difference In Cardio Machines

The Difference In Cardio Machines

Here is a great nutrition tip before I talk about cardio machines

Immediately after waking up, drink 16 oz of cold water to get your metabolism fired up. Studies show that drinking cold water can increase metabolism as much as 25% for 2 hours after finishing.

According to a study by the The University of California at San Francisco’s Human Performance Center, cardio machines overestimate calorie-burn by shocking amounts. (http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Weekend/exercise-calorie-counters-work/story?id=9966500#.T1p_TvF8C80 the link to the study)

Treadmill: Overestimated calories burnt by 13%

Stationary Bike: Overestimated calories burnt by 7%

Stair Climber: Overestimated calories burnt by 12%.

Elliptical: Overestimated calories burnt by 42%

First off, there is no right or wrong answer here. Hopping on a cardio machine and doing the simplest of workouts is beneficial, and if nothing else, is useful for burning off calories from the ice cream you had the night before. With that being said, there are definitely some programs and machines that are more beneficial than others. As a general “wake up call” statement, documented studies suggest that treadmills and other cardio machines actually overestimate calories burned by up to 42%. Using cardio machines entails moving the large muscles in your body. These muscles require large amounts of oxygen which is circulated into your blood with the end goal of raising your heart rate. Taking this into account, the machine that requires the largest muscles to move the most should create the largest benefits, right? Lets take a closer look below at what I find to be the most effective machines. (4 most common machines)

1. Treadmill 

Benefits

  • Versatility– From a brisk walk to an uphill sprint, treadmills offer a wide range of tools in terms of speed, incline, and training programs.
  • Emulates Natural Movements– As technology continues to develop, fitness moguls are developing new machines that can be awkward or confusing. The treadmill is a familiar, and mostly natural movement for the human body that doesn’t allow you to rely on momentum to power the machine.
  • Seniority– Treadmills have been around since the 1800’s and are a staple at every gym and most homes.Naturally, they have been researched, developed, and perfected more than any other piece of cardio equipment.
  • Consistent Surface– As opposed to running outside, where you can encounter rocks, cracks, and other uneven surfaces, treadmills allow you to run on a consistent surface, year-round.
  • Full Body– Walking and running are rooted from the strides your legs are forced to make. In order to stride forward you have to engage your core and utilize momentum from your upper body.

Downfalls

  • Tough On Joints– In general, running can put stress on your spine, hips, knee, and ankle joints.
  • Safety Issue– Doing incline sprints can be dangerous if you are really “pushing the limits.”
  • Unnatural Handles Often times, people like to know their heart rate and find their target heart rate zone. Trying to hold on to the treadmill handles while you are running can be challenging and awkward.
  • Posture Problems Some studies show that the size of the belt can cause people to change the way they walk or run, leading to muscle imbalances and posture problems.
  • Difficulty– Running(especially on an incline) is hard. People are lazy. People will use the machine they find to be “easiest” and use that specific machine as a way to burn calories.
Consensus 
Overall, I think treadmills are the most effective cardio machine mainly because of the versatility in programs and the amount of muscles groups that are affected by a forward stride. I am a huge proponent of hill intervals (both walking and running) and I think using a treadmill to complete a high intensity training program can work wonders for your fitness goals.

2. Stair-Climber.

Benefits

  • Non Impact Conditioning Unlike the stress of running on a treadmill, stair masters can provide similar cardiovascular benefits without putting your joints in a vulnerable position.
  • Muscle Memory Almost everyone is guilty of taking the elevator or escalator in today’s technology-driven world. Naturally, the muscles in our legs become accustomed to a walking or running stride. Using a stair stepper will activate different muscles groups that may have been ignored in the past.
  • The Legs Feed The Wolf- The stair stepper is a great way to build leg muscles and increase lower body endurance. It also allows you to work on your balance and work on rehabilitative exercises.
Downfalls
  • Lower Body Specific- Climbing stairs definitely burns the quads and glutes, but your upper body is used sparingly in a stair stepper.
  • “Convenient” Handle Placement– The geniuses that created the stair stepper made handles that are easily accessible and almost invite you to hold on to them which can cause decreased energy output by your actual legs.
  • One Dimensional– You can’t change the incline on most stair steppers like you can with the treadmills which limits the overall versatility.
Consensus
Muscle memory is no joke. Using a stair stepper should be added to your weekly exercise regimen to activate different muscles in your legs that have become dormant due to technology-not your own personal laziness of taking the elevator everyday. (Yes I am guilty too)
3. The Elliptical 
Benefits
  • Non Impact Conditioning– Much like the stair stepper, the elliptical allows your body to emulate a running motion without causing the strenuous impact of actually running.
  • Cross-Training Aspect– Most ellipticals are now equipt with moveable handles which allow you to exercise your upper body and lower body simultaneously.
  • Reverse- Most ellipticals allow you to stride in reverse which can activate different muscle groups and put more emphasis on your quads.

Downfalls

  • Laziness– Ellipticals were a product of human complaint. “too hard”, “too much stress on my legs”. If running actually does cause pain on your joints, try an inclined/brisk walk on a treadmill. Check your heart rate and see how it compares to the elliptical.
  • Gravity- Elliptical pedals are suspended off the ground and lack the “weight-bearing effect” that is utilized when running.  Weight-bearing exercises strengthen bones and muscles, and is particularly important for older people in preventing osteoporosis.
  • Momentum- Operating an elliptical, especially on lower levels, can allow you to use the machines’ momentum to compensate for actual work output

The Consensus

If performed efficiently, the elliptical can be used as a valuable cardiovascular machine with interval training and tough, cross-training programs. Unfortunately, this is generally not the case. The elliptical’s reputation as the “lazy mans treadmill” is exactly that. Not to mention that ellipticals outrageously overestimate calorie expenditure.

4. The Stationary Bike

Benefits

  • Lower Body Endurance Bikes are great tools to build lower body strength, endurance, and stamina.
  • Limited Stress On Joints- Like the elliptical, the bike does not impose your entire body weight on your joints but stills allow you to reap enormous benefits.
  • Great For Rehabilitation- Bikes are great tools for people with pulled muscles or recovering from a lower-body injury.
  • Difficulty Factor- Cranking the resistance up on a bike can force you into a standing position and as a result cause enormous caloric expenditure.
Downfalls
  • Human Nature The average human spends 9.3 hours a day sitting. Why would you want to sit during exercise?
  • One Dimensional- The bike focuses primarily on lower body performance.

Conclusion

DON’T RELY ON CALORIE ESTIMATES BY CARDIO MACHINES. Joe Smith, exercise physiologist at UCSF’s Human Performance Center said the overestimation is not surprising.”I think the estimations are just that. You can’t necessarily believe everything you read on those machines.” However, cardio machines can be a great resource if you use them efficiently. Going on a 20 minute elliptical stroll will burn SOME calories, but will not give you the same benefits as an interval program on a treadmill. I give everyone credit for going to the gym and getting on a machine but why wouldn’t you use your time efficiently?

My Suggestion

Mix it up. Try different programs on different machines to constantly keep the body guessing. Rowing machines have started to make a return (thanks crossfit) and can be used as a great asset as well. Chances are, the machine you dislike the most is probably the one that is the hardest and causing the greatest amount of work output by your body. Lastly, spend one day a week doing some form of intervals. (See my Dec. 16 post for more on interval training)

Thanks for reading. Let me know if you have questions or comments.

From South Bend,

 Kevin

The 5 Exercise Mistakes You Could Be Making

The 5 Exercise Mistakes You Could Be Making

1.You are a victim of routine and habit:

Muscle memory is no myth. If you perform the same exercises and workouts every week, with no variation, your muscles will grow accustomed with them overtime and your fitness goals will severely plateau. Repitition of exercises allows the brain to become “hard-wired” with a simple, efficient circuitry that enables the activity. The brain and muscles no longer have to work hard to make that particular movement happen, so the activity “feels easy” to you, as if it were second nature.

My suggestion: Switch it up

  • I am all for getting in and sticking to a set routine, however, if you want to see progression in your fitness goals, whether it is bigger strength gains or more fat loss, vary your workouts/rep range/rest time.  You will see dramatic changes as your muscles will have to work harder to adapt to these new changes.

Great examples:

  1. Intervals vs. steady cardio. (see previous post for more specifics about this)
  2. Heavier weights with reps between 5 and 8 and allowing more rest in between rest.

2. You don’t get in a good warm-up:

The goal of any warm-up is to increase your heart rate, body temperature,. and blood flow to your muscles. The increase in these things will prepare you muscles and mind-set for the upcoming exercises. As a result, you will see better performance results and reduce chance of injury. Research over the last decade has shown static stretching cold muscles can actually inhibit performance and put you at greater risk of injury.

My suggestion: Perform movements that are specific to the exercises that will follow.

  • Activate the energy systems and muscles that are going to be required to complete your workout.
Great Examples:
  1. Jump Rope for 5 minutes- This gets both your legs and upper body involved at the same time.
  2. Dynamic stretch warm-up and not static stretching!-Do 5-10 minutes of dynamic movements that will get your blood flowing and major muscle groups activated. (bodyweight pushups, lunges, squats, or spider man crawls all work great)
3. You don’t do enough multi-joint movements:
Everyone wants more bang for their buck. So, why limit yourself to single joint movements or “isolated movements” when you can combine exercises and use multiple joints to build muscle, decrease fat, increase metabolic rate, and burn more calories, all at the same time.
My suggestion: Use multi-joint movements for the bulk or your exercises and supplement them with single joint movements.
  • Multi-joint movements will allow you to become a more functional and well conditioned athlete by using major muscle groups in conjunction with one another.
  • Supplementing multi joint movements with single joint movements will allow you to take care of the smaller and stabilizer muscles that can be overshadowed when doing multi-joint movements.
Great Examples:
  1. The old-fashioned back squat- Not only do squats activate all your lower body muscle group,  but it also activates your core muscles which are the foundation to your strength and posture. (utilizes knee,ankle, and hip joints)
  2. Dumbbell snatch- A great, functional exercise that utilizes major muscle groups such as your legs, core, and shoulders.

4. After all my suggestions you still do sit-ups:

Core is an essential component to a functional and strong body.Why is it that I continue to see people wasting time doing one of the most inefficient and outdated exercises today!

My suggestion: Trade in your old-fashioned sit ups for a core exercises that are more efficient

  • There still exists a common misconception that the key to a six-pack is by doing a bunch of sit-ups. False, the key to washboard abs is by losing stomach fat through a healthy(total body) exercise regimen and an all-natural diet.

Great Examples:

1. Plank on swiss ball- This exercise will force you to stabilize your core on an unbalanced surface.

2. Hanging leg raise- Targets your hipflexors and lower abs along with the rest of your core.

5. You don’t replenish your muscles after your workout:

“Approximately 30 minutes after intense exercise, the body optimizes its ability to replenish energy stores-particularly muscle and liver glycogen. This is also a critical time because the body instigates muscle protein synthesis for muscle tissue recovery and repair, replenishes fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat, and adapts to the stresses encountered in the workout.”

My Suggestion: Invest in a workout shaker and some tupperware.

  • Bringing a recovery powder to your workout will ensure you provide your muscles with adequate nutrition to fully recover immediately after finishing. Bringing some food in Tupperware is also a great way to ensure you are getting ample carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Depending on your sport and fitness goals, your post-workout shake should range from a 1:1 carb/protein ratio to 4:1 carb/protein  ratio if you are involved in more endurance activities and are trying to restore carbohydrate levels.

Great Example

1. 6oz of coconut water
6oz of unsweetened almond milk
1/2 c yogurt, 1 banana
1 c frozen strawberries/blueberries
1 scoop whey protein powder
3-5 grams glutamine

For all those interested in fat loss, check out my good friend’s website Kellie Kaufman at https://wrapmeskinnywithkellie.myitworks.com/home. This may help you gain the edge and break through plateaus.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions or comments.

From Naples,

Kevin

kdeeth21@gmail.com


Burn Fat By Lifting Weights

Burn Fat By Lifting Weights

Americans drink an average of 200 calories a day in high-fructose corn syrup! That’s enough to pack on nearly 21 pounds a year.

It’s common knowledge right? Lifting weights=bulking up and more muscle. Cardio=slimming down and less fat. Not so fast. Studies have shown strength training to be just as effective for burning fat as hopping on the treadmill. However “spot reduction” itself is one of the most misunderstood theories in fitness. Fat is lost throughout the body in a pattern dependent upon genetics, gender, and age. That means doing crunches will not necessarily make you lose fat from your midsection. Overall body fat must be reduced to lose fat in one particular area. Strength training is one of the best ways to help accomplish this overall fat loss. Here are some facts in regards to strength training and burning fat.

  1. Increased Metabolic Rate Post Workout-While doing generic cardio and aerobics does a good job of spiking your metabolism during exercise, strength training using large muscle groups can increase your metabolism more effectively in the hours following your workout. As a result, more calories will be burned for up to 24-48 hours after your workout.
  2. Boosting Metabolism At Rest– Strength training can stimulate the development of muscle mass which can increase your resting metabolic rate and therefore increase the calories you burn.
  3. Strength Training Increases Energy Expenditure During A Training Session-Both cardio and weight lifting will burn calories and utilize stored energy in the body. However, in some cases, the anaerobic nature of strength training indicates a higher utilization of carbohydrates during a training session once initial ATP and CP(sources of energy) stores have been exhausted. During the post-exercise recovery period energy expenditure is elevated resulting in burning more calories. A good portion of those calories burned are coming from stored fat.
  4. Changing Your Body Composition– Lifting weights can help you maintain or increase lean body mass while reducing fat.  Overdoing it on cardio itself can cause a reduction in lean body mass and  lower your body’s ability to oxidize fat, in effect, lowering your metabolism. Strength training, especially high intensity weight lifting, can allow you to maintain or increase muscle mass while reducing body fat.
  5. High Reps vs Low Reps– This depends largely on your overall goals in terms of muscle hypertrophy or specifically losing weight. Generally, higher reps is geared towards burning calories/fat and developing more lean muscle versus sheer muscle mass. Lifting moderate to heavy weights for a lower number of repetitions will help you gain muscle at the same time as you lose body fat. The difference comes in post training metabolic rate and calorie burn. Some studies show when subjects used heavier weights and lower reps they burned more calories in the hours after training. With much debate about this, the best approach is to mix it up and keep the body guessing by varying rep range.
Here are some excellent strength training exercises to help burn fat.
1. Front Squat To Push Press
  1. Stand holding a bar on the front of your shoulders, with your elbows pointing straight ahead and feet hip-width.
  2. Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor while keeping elbows up and hips back.
  3. As you push back up to the starting position, press the bar overhead and head through your arms.
  4. Lower the bar to your shoulders and immediately sink into your next squat.
2. Weighted Pushups With Legs Elevated
  1. Start in pushup position with legs elevated on a bench or swiss ball.
  2. Use resistance by; 1.Placing a band around your back 2. Having a partner put a weighted sand bag on your back or 3. Have a partner apply manual resistance to your mid/upper back.
  3. Lower until chest/head is close to the ground.
  4. Explode up to starting position and repeat.
3. Barbell Overhead Lunge
  1. Start by standing and holding a barbell overhead with your arms straight and core engaged.
  2. Hold that position as you lunge forward and your front knee is bent at 90 degrees and your back knee is an inch or two off the floor.
  3. Push back to starting position by exploding with front leg and maintaining your upper body posture.
  4. Repeat with the other leg.
4. Single Arm Overhead Squat
  1. Grab two dumbbells. One twice the weight of the other and stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Raise the lighter dumbbell in one hand overhead, with the heavier dumbell between your legs and your arm straight with palm facing inward.
  3. Perform squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor and push back to start position through your heals and mid foot.
  4. Complete all reps without lowering your arms, then switch sides.

Conclusion

All of the exercises above involve major muscle groups and can be modified for each individual’s ability. Going in and doing a few sets of arm curls is not going to help you burn fat. Multi-joint exercises that require multi-level muscle contractions will be the most effective.  Strength training is a proven method for fat loss, and allows you to maintain lean muscle mass and definition while losing body fat. Strength training in combination with dietary modifications can have more impact on fat loss than weight training alone. The ideal program for fat loss would include the combination of proper diet, weight training, and cardio exercise. As a general guideline for strength training and cardio, you need to cut back on the time but increase the intensity. This will prevent your body from going into a state where you start burning muscle mass instead of fat.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions or comments. The next topic will be about sleep.

From Norway,

Kevin

kdeeth21@gmail.com