Category Archives: Gym Rat Diary

Rest & Recovery: Why You Need It

Rest and recovery; the R & R’s of the fitness world. Most may think they are the same thing- and while they are both critical elements of any successful training program- they are also the least utilized.

The Difference?

First, a little math

  • The average person may train about 4- 8 hrs/ week
  • This leaves you with 152-156 of non-training hours/ week to rest & recover

You would think that’s more than enough time to recharge and be ready to hulk-smash that next workout, yet there are some that will be walking into the gym and dragging through their workout.

Rest: according to Merriam- Webster

1repose, sleep; specifically:  a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities 

2a:  freedom from activity or labor

  b:  a state of motionlessness or inactivity

  c:  the repose of death

3a place for resting or lodging

4: peace of mind or spirit

Most of these (except for 2c) are a combination of time that is spent sleeping and not training. It is also the easiest to understand and implement.

Recovery: encompasses many aspects and refers to techniques and actions that are taken to maximize the body’s repair. Recovery involves different systems in our body that require time to repair, these include muscle repair, chemical and hormonal balance, nervous system repair, and mental & spiritual.

For most, the goal should be to have a a good balance between exercise, nutrition, and rest & recovery. Make heath and fitness a priority without personal sacrifice. Don’t be afraid to enjoy a night out with friends, or a piece of your own birthday cake. Unless you are a professional athlete, don’t overwhelm yourself with perfection.

The Approach

  1. Get enough sleep. Although different for everyone, the recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7-9 hours. Sufficient sleep helps to with mental health, hormonal balance, and muscular recovery.

      2. Keep Hydrated. Water is critical to our bodily functions. It aids in nutrient uptake, helps regulate body temperature, protects and moisturizes the joints, and aids in riding the body of toxins. Drinking adequate amounts of water is critical to health, energy, recovery, and performance. The easiest way to check for dehydration is in the color of your urine. If it is a dark yellow, then you definitely need to increase your intake.

    3. Nutrition. Everything you eat has the ability to help heal your body, or to hurt it. Eating clean and balanced meals in moderation, and reducing the amount of processed foods is proven to be effective to remain healthy and increase performance. Pay attention to how your body reacts to the types of foods you consume. I believe that unless you have a reaction to it or an underlying issue, there’s no need to cut out specific food groups. Including variety in your food choices will make it easier to eat healthy.

4. Stretching. You should be able to move your joints through their full range and be pain free. If you can’t then that means that your flexibility is being compromised. Having a desk job can contribute to tight hip flexors and bad posture, so be sure to include dynamic stretching in your warm-ups and save the static stretching for after your workouts. Yoga is a great way to improve your flexibility.

 

2017-29-3--13-00-11

5. Self-Myofascial Release. This works by finding tight muscle areas, applying pressure to those trigger points to release the tightness, and then ahhhh!! This can be done with a foam roller, lacrosse ball, or your hands. (Just an fyi if you’re new to it: self-myofascial release is painful at first, but so, sooo good afterwards)

6. TLC For Those Injuries. It goes without saying that if you have an injury, your rest and recovery will be longer. Remember to use the typical heat, ice, compression, elevation for any injury you may have. The more tlc you show it, the faster your recovery.

 

And that’s it. Ensure that your body gets the care it needs. The fact that you are already exercising is great, and with enough time to recuperate, your hard work in the gym will surely show!

Happy Training 🙂

To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.

-Buddha

Advertisements

Why You Can’t Just “Wing It” If You Want Results

“What should I do today?”

“Legs.. I’ll do deadlifts. No, wait..maybe some squats..when was the last time I did squats?”

If you’re deciding what your workout will be as you’re walking into the gym.. then I’m sorry to say.. but

80effcc77d3f4904b6ca134350819a94ee15d88d5b7f206e567f27d6160692b1

In order to see any results you need to have a structured program. Walking into the gym, let alone trying to reach any goals without a fitness plan, is like trying to drive in a foreign country without a map; you will eventually get somewhere, but where you end up may or may not have anything to do with where you actually wanted to be. Without a proper fitness plan you have no way of tracking your progress, and no way of knowing if you will reach your goals.

The Right Way

Write down your goals. This is the first step to create a fitness plan. Do you want to reach a certain PR in your deadlifts? Do you want to chisel your back? Maybe you just want to feel comfortable on the beach. Whatever your reason is to workout you need a structured fitness plan to get you there. Once you’ve established what you want to accomplish, you need to create a ‘map’ to get you there, these are your short-term goals. Short-term goals are mileposts on the way toward your long-term goal.

Example:

  • Long term goal: doing 12 unassisted chin-ups
  • Short term goals:
    • wk 1-4: build muscle strength by doing band assisted chin-ups
    • wk 5-8: work on holding your weight- negative chin-ups 
    • wk 9-12: 3 unassisted chin-ups x 2 sets, 1.5min rest between sets (add 1 set per week)
    • wk 13-16: 4 unassisted chin-ups x 3 sets, 1.5 min rest between sets
    • wk 17+ : gradually increase reps per set, until 12 straight reps achieved

 Establishing a fitness plan eliminates the guess work and tracks your progress. Having a schedule to follow helps eliminate the “I’ll do it tomorrow” thought pattern and holds you accountable. Once you get into the habit of following a plan, you’ll see how easier it is to get through your workouts which in turn helps motivate you to succeed. Also by having a visual record of your progress means you can actually see how far along you’ve come, which is always motivating.

Keep It Simple

It doesn’t need to be fancy (unless that’s your style). Simply having a small journal with your workouts written in them and space to write in reps, sets, weight, is enough. The main point is to make it a habit.

And that goes for any goals in general. The only way to ensure you reach them is by writing them doing, creating a ‘map’ & then following it. It eliminates any guess work, helps you be prepared for any obstacles you may encounter, and serves as a visual record of how far you’ve come and how much closer you are to your end point.

 

And that’s that.

 

Happy Training 🙂

  

Ladies!! 5 Lifts You NEED To Be Doing Right NOW!

I’ve seen it too many times… back when I worked at gyms and still now when I work out at my local commercial gym: alot (not all) of women are neglecting the big old compound exercises. The reasons could be many:

  • Lack of knowledge: not knowing how to correctly perform the exercise
  • Intimidation: some women feel intimidated walking into the free weights section because of all the testosterone around. I say OWN it.. do your thang girl!!
  • Have been misinformed: some women might still believe that these big lifts are just “too manly” for them, totally not the case.

giphy-hell-no

I could continue, but then this would turn into a looonnnggg rant.

Ok, so moving on… these lifts I like to refer to them as the “Build-A Body” group, because when implemented correctly can help ‘build’ your lady bumps and humps 😉  and who wouldn’t want that?!

  1. The Deadlift: A foundational lift. This exercise mimics everyday movements like bending and lifting (ex: picking up your little one). This one is my ultimate favourite lift. With so many different variations, I incorporate the deadlift in almost every one of my workouts. Muscles worked include:
    • entire posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, hips): equals a beautiful backside
    • engages your core musculature (internal girdle): a strong core increases overall strength, protects your back, and lets you wear those crop tops without thinking twice
    • biceps and forearms: develops your grip strength so you can lift more heavy SH*T!
      • Here’s a great article on deadlifting written by Tony Gentilcore (who is only the world’s deadlifting god) 
  2. The Squat: Another foundational lift as you do this movement every time you sit and stand. With many variations to choose from, you can never get bored of this one.
    • helps build and shape nice thighs
    • helps build glutes
    • builds overall strength
  3. The Hip Thrust: This one is a great glute builder/ isolator exercise. Remember that your glutes are pure muscle and in order to grow them you need to learn to fire the glutes  and stimulate them properly using heavier loads, varying rep ranges, etc. You can increase or decrease the intensity level by doing body weight hip thrusts, adding bands, doing singe leg variations.. possibilities are many.
  4. Pull-ups: This is the ultimate upper body exercise as it builds incredible strength. As a multi joint exercise:
    • works & strengthens entire back musculature, shoulders, biceps, grip strength
    • creates a tapered effect of the back making your waist look smaller
    • different hand positions target the muscles a little differently/ changes difficulty
  5. Vertical/ Horizontal Presses: These include push-ups & variations (horizontal press exercises); military press, push-press, shoulder press, etc (vertical press exercises). These exercises:
    • increase upper body strength (women have less muscle mass compared to their lower bodies.. we gotta work harder at it!)
    • work your chest, shoulders, triceps and core
    • Band assisted push-ups (beginners)
    • Awesome push-up variations (advanced)
    • Military Press helps build amazing shoulders
    • Push Press helps build raw strength. Improves shoulder stability. And can I just say it look badass when a woman does it!!

So here it is ladies.. a short list of some lifts to definitely include in your training. Don’t be intimidated or embarrassed of walking into that gym and grabbing some iron. Your body will thank you 😉

giphy-you-got-this

 

Happy Training 🙂

 

 

Metabolic Workout: Kettlebell Complex

Before I get into what kettlebell complexes are and what purpose they serve I will quickly give some background info on metabolic conditioning for those that are new to the game. Metabolic conditioning workouts are structured patterns of work vs rest periods designed to elicit a specific response from the body. This response is usually maximizing the efficiency of a particular energy system. The body has several different ways in which it gets its energy. Different ratios of work to rest periods will utilize different energy systems and as a result cause specific adaptations in the body.These adaptations should be specific to the trainees desired outcomes and fitness level. For example, a sprinter would have a different work:rest ratio compared to someone who wants to get lean or put on muscle. Simply pairing difficult exercises together and going through a circuit without taking into account timing will not reap the same results.

 

What Are Kettlebell Complexes?

Kettlebell complexes are compound exercises performed successively and with no rest in between. (If you are unfamiliar with what compound exercises are: compound exercises require coordinated movements that recruit multiple muscle groups to move multiple joints through a range of motion simultaneously.)

Complexes can be performed with dumbbells, barbells or kettlebells. All are efficient training tools, however the kettlebell, because of its compact nature and offset center of gravity adds a unique twist complex training.

 

What You’ll Need: a kettlebell, skipping rope, timer, and willpower!

My Workout:

Warm-up: 5min

  • Kettlebell Complex 1min:
    •   5x kettlebell swing
    • 5x goblet squat
    • 2x single arm swing (R)
    • 1x clean & press (R)
    • 2x single arm swing (R)
    • 1x kettlebell snatch (R)
    • 2x single arm swing (L)
    • 1x clean & press (L)
    • 2x single arm swing (L)
    • 1x kettlebell snatch (L)
    • 3x kettlebell swing
    • 3x goblet squat
  • Skipping 30sec

Rest: 30sec

Repeat: for 8 rounds

Cooldown: 5-7min stretching

Total time: Under 40min

Here’s what it looked like

 

Happy Training 🙂

Monday Motivation

image

There’s something about holding a kettlebell that makes me oh-so-happy :).. so with the weather not being nice today I decided to do my workout at home. It was just me and my kettlebell (60pds) and good ol’ rope.

So today’s workout was a circuit:

image

☆Sumo deadlift 15×8
☆2-hand press 6×8
☆Kettlebell swings 25×8
☆Jump rope drills 90sec x8 (not pictured)

Total time: 48min 52sec 😥

Benefits of Kettlebell Training

▪ Most people are unaware of over  training the front side of their body (ex: chest, abs &quads, aka: the mirror muslces). However, the back side of the body (posterior chain) is equally important for functional and esthetic reasons. Kettlebells promote coordination among all the muscles of the posterior chain. Training these muscles corrects posture, imbalances and reduces lower back pain among others.

Quick Fact: Your posterior chain is a group of muscles, tendons, & ligaments on the back side of your body. These are the lower back, glutes, hamstrings and calves.

▪ They promote hip flexor flexibility & strengthen the abdominal muscles. This reduces pelvic tilt & decreases lower back pain.

▪ Trains your body to work as a unit. No kettlebell exercise is ever a single joint movement. Every swing, lift, or press engages many joints & muscle groups forcing the body to always work as a unified whole.

▪ Teaches proper bracing of the abdominal cavity. People tend to suck in their stomach when told to ‘engage the core’. Kettlebells teach ‘bracing’ the mid-section (as if someone was about to punch you in the stomach). This internal pressure created by your breath and abdominal wall supports your back, making you stronger.

▪ The acceleration/deceleration of moving a kettlebell strengthens connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, cartilage). This increases mobility, strength & flexibility reducing the possibility of injury.

So there you have it.. just some of the benefits these awesome chunks of iron can have on the body when incorporated into your workout.

Happy training 🙂

Dedication To My Goals

image

You’ve probably all been told that to see the results you want, you need to put in the work.
It takes dedication, commitment, perseverance, sacrifice and patience. Notice I did not mention time. I purposely left time out because I believe that if you are commited to your goals then you will make sure to dedicate the time necessary to achieve your goals. There is no way around it. You either have results or excuses.. not both.

I will talk a little about myself and my fitness goals:

I had gained 50 pds with my recent pregnancy.. I guess that’s just how my body works (I had gained 60pds with my first pregnancy). I get what it is to look at yourself after baby is born and not recognize your body. You still look pregnant..and it’s frustrating.

My goal throughout my pregnancy was to keep as active as I could. I continued my workouts (with obvious adjustments) until a few pregnancy-related discomforts didn’t allow me to lift weights anymore..at around the 7 month mark. I then focused on prenatal yoga & stretching.
Once my son was born & I passed the 6 week mark I resumed my weight training. My goal was to shed my baby weight and tighten up my abdominal section by October (my son was born in January). The truth was, having a baby around again left me with little time for myself & zero energy. But I made the effort to workout at least  2x/week and keep my food as clean as I could.
As the months passed, I developed a nice little routine. I would do my metobolic workouts from home, and make it to the gym for my weight training sessions (which ended up being late at night). I’ll be honest and say that there were many times I just didn’t have the energy to go to the gym or I just wanted to stay home.. and sometimes I did. But I didn’t beat myself up over it.. I just made up for it the next day.
I shed the baby weight by the time October rolled around and I felt comfortable in a bikini (I had a destination wedding to attend), which felt great!

My current goal is to focus on gaining more definition. At the moment I don’t have definitive time of where I want to be by “X date”. I just train and eat clean ( I do indulge here & there) and I don’t feel guilty about it.

image

My Transformation

• I currently weight train 3x/week 
• Do 1 metabolic workout at home

• I eat 5-6x/day
• Drink about 2L of water/day

We all have jobs, spouses, kids, social lives; but what you need to do is dedicate yourself to your goals, commit time to reaching them, understand that there will need to be some sacrifices made along the way, and have perserverance when faced with obstacles.
With dedication and commitment no goal is unattainable ☺

Where My Journey Began

image

From the moment I picked up my first piece of iron in my highshool weight room I knew what I wanted to do.
I still remember it as if it was yesterday.. a small, windowless room with dark grey walls, a few posters that included the anatomical positions, the muscular system, and an exercise guide for the universal cable machine that sat in the middle and occupied most of the room. It was an intro to weight training, which was part of the phys ed. curriculum for grade 12. The feeling of holding those outdated dumbbells was something I can’t describe.. but my curiosity for this unknown world is what I found alluring and was my first step into this industry.
The first time I opened up my first anatomy & physiology books in college I was overwhelmed with information about the human body. I was mesmerized by the way the body works both physiologically and physically. This only served to reaffirm my belief that I was on the right path.

It’s been almost 10 years in this industry and I have learned so much in the classroom, from fellow trainers (especially from the last studio I had the pleasure of working at) and from experience.
It’s true that in this industry it’s easy to become certified as a personal trainer.. but what sets apart the real trainers from the fake is the willingness to learn & continue learning, the passion for helping others and the commitment to the work. A good trainer inspires, educates and listens. We give tough love when we need to and praise you when accomplish goals.
My journey in the fitness world is now taking me in a new direction. I am nervous and excited as I have slowly been building up to this. I am still eager to learn as I think it’s imperative to keep learning new skills..and I will continue to do my best.

The iron jungle has been my classroom, my work, and is my refuge. It is where my journey began and where I continue to be. It is a place where I have unleashed my frustrations, pushed myself beyond my limits, and grown as a trainer and coach.

It’s where it all began 🙂

Monday Motivation: Metobolic Workout

I started the week off right. I got a metabolic workout in right in the morning (done at home). I’m not a fan of cardio as I get bored quickly (exercise ADD?!) so this is my go-to for some serious calorie burn.

First let’s cover some background on metabolic workouts.

What Is It?

The simple definition of metabolic training is a workout containing structural and compound exercises done with little to no rest in between exercises. This maximizes caloric burn, increase metabolic rate (amount of calories your body burns at rest) during and after the workout, and seriously challenges your cardiovascular system.
Because structural & compound exercises are multi joint exercises (like squats & chin-ups) they require an intense amount of energy to execute, and when done as part of a metabolic workout you are really burning off that fat. The calories burned during this type of training can easily reach around 500 calories for a 30 minute workout, increasing your metabolic rate anywhere from 10-25% for up to 48 hours, and some studies have shown an increase in metabolic rate for up to even 72 hours. Over time these hundreds of extra calories burned can become significant.
(Here’s a study on impact on post exercise oxygen consumption.)

My Workout: Ascending/Descending Ladder

● DB Front squat (30 pds)
● DB Bent over row (30 pds)
● Pushups
● Burpees

》Set 1: I did 1 rep of each, then 2 reps, then 3…till I reached 10 reps (note: I did not stop at all till I finished the set) Completed in 21min 15sec

》Rest 2min

》 Set 2: Worked backwards from 10 reps to 1 😧 Completed in 24min 42sec

Variation: I used weight to up the intensity level. To make it easier lose the iron and stick to body weight exercises.

Oh and I have to share this cereal that I found on the weekend.. perfect for a post-workout meal.
image

Happy training!

Regaining Strength… 1 Year Post-Partum

      “If it doesn’t challenge you,
      It doesn’t change you.”
                             Fred Devito

So its been been almost a year since I got back into training again after my little guy was born (I took the recommended 6 weeks to recover). I have to admit that I’m not where I thought I’d be.
Due to quite a few pregnancy discomforts (from symphysis pubis dysfunction, to carpal tunnel syndrome, and then mommy thumb post-partum 😩) I lost alot of my strength. 

I was quite discouraged (ANGRY) after my first workout post- pregnancy where I unsuccessfully tried to deadlift at almost my max weight: 135pds (pre-pregnancy: 160pds).
I couldn’t get the bar off ground :oops:.
I drastically reduced my deadlift to a (sad) 50pds. My squat was scaled back to a mere 40pds… pull ups I could no longer do unassisted.  Pushups only from my knees.

I had to go back to the drawing board and rewrite my program. My focus would now be to strengthen my severely weakened grip, work on correcting my hip alignment, and further strengthen my core.

I have slowly started to see my strength return. And with that my ‘issues’ are taking care of themselves. Every time I add an extra plate or move that pin further down the weight stack I smile and do the happy dance (in my head of course!).
It’s taken me longer than I initially planned for and I had to create a new program to ‘fix’ myself first,  but I gritted my teeth and stuck through it and now I’m seeing results! I have to remind myself that pregnancy is a major change and stress to the body. It took 9 months of growing a baby.. it’s definitely not going to take less than that to return to where I was.

We all experience bumps along the road.. some will be harder to get over, but we shouldn’t let these stop us or derail us.
I know I’m not!

My Progress:

Deadlift
Day 1: 50pds
Current: 110pds

Squat
Day 1: 40pds
Current: 70pds

Pull-ups (assisted)
Day 1: 120pds
Current: 70pds

Pushups (from toes)
Day 1: 0
Current: 12

Feeling like my old self!!

So I’m happy to say that with the start of my second trimester I slowly started to feel better. The nausea subsided (YESSS!!) and the exhaustion that had me wanting to crawl into a ball and sleep the months away disappeared.

I am now eating better, I’ve been able to handle animal protein, except red meat. For some reason Little Bean doesn’t like red meat 😣.

Because I no longer have access to free gym use (which really sucks!) I must conform to working out at home.. Maybe till September… Still thinking that one over.

My workout today:

KB goblet squat 3x 15reps x40pds
Renegade rows 3x 12reps x30pds

DB Sumo deadlift 3x 20reps x30pds
Push-ups 3x 15reps

Arnold press 3x 15reps x30pds
Plank 3x 1min

Although I am limited to using a pair of 15pd dumbbells, a 40pd kettlebell, and a TRX, I definitely feel sore the next day. But I refuse to become completely inactive.

Any ladies out there who are pregnant and are not sure as to whether weight lifting is safe (or any type of exercise).. Rest assured that not only will you be reaping the benefits of staying active during your pregnancy but so will your little bun in the oven.

Studies have shown that pregnant women who exercise regularly (minimum 2 days/ week for at least 30 min) will:

• avoid gaining extra pregnancy weight (25-35 pds is considered a healthy range)
• have more energy
• sleep better at night
• have less mood swings ( exercise releases those ‘feel-good’ hormones)
• return to their pre-pregnancy self alot easier
• have a shorter labor
• recover faster from delivery

These are some of the benefits without getting too much into the scientific part of it. As for your baby.. By regularly exercising you are also helping to strengthen your unborn baby’s cardiovascular system :).. Now THAT is a big reason to pick up those weights and pump some iron!!

Till next time

%d bloggers like this: