Blog Archives

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.

 

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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

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

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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.

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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 😉

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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 🙂

Tips For Getting Your ‘Summer Body’ Ready

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In Canada the winter months may seem ENDLESS, the layers of clothes are many and most people tend to go into some type of ‘hibernation mode’ (too much food, too little exercise). More often than not you might have experienced some weight gain. Or you could be in a building phase, which is typical during the winter months, and your intake has purposely been higher & workouts scaled back to allow for some gains/ growth. In either case you will have found yourself to be carrying a bit more cushion than you might like.

At the first sign of spring, the gyms seem to come alive with those looking to perfect their ‘summer  body’. The average person will spend hours on end on their cardio machine of choice in hopes of shedding unwanted weight gain and/or reduce their food intake way too much. This will only work against your body by killing your metabolism resulting in little to no change at all.

Here are some tips to help rev up your metabolism so that you can shed those last stubborn pounds and reveal your summer physique.

Better Food Quality. Your meals should consist of nutrient dense, whole foods. Cut out sugar & high processed foods as these do nothing to promote optimal body composition and only put you at risk for metabolic diseases. Be sure to consume a lot of dark leafy vegetables (aim for 1-2 cups per meal), anti-oxidant rich  fruits and beneficial fats.

Protein With Every Meal. High-quality, high-protein intake keep you feeling full longer. It also sustains lean mass which in turn increases your metabolic rate (more muscle mass= more calories burned at rest). This is very important if you are trying to lose body fat. Also, don’t make the mistake of cutting calories without increasing protein as this will cause you to lose muscle mass along with fat mass, lowering your metabolism. Include lean red meat, fish, eggs in your meals. A clean, low-carb protein powder can help supplement your diet.

Include 4-5 Days of Weight Training. In order to look lean & tight you need to increase your muscle mass and reduce body fat. To do this you need to make sure you are really stressing out your muscles. Repeated tension or load on the muscles will cause the muscle to adapt and grow over time. Most people don’t lift heavy enough, or they continuously lift for the same amount of high reps and only 3 sets per exercise. Proper stress will only occur if you vary your training; ex: High-volume training (high reps, mod weight), high-load training (4+ sets, 4-6 reps, 85-90% of 1RM), varied tempo. Also be sure to include big compound movements (squats, deadlifts, pulls, presses, chin-ups) as these are multi-joint exercises and recruit major muscles.

Sprints vs. Steady State Cardio. While distance running (steady state cardio) has its benefits (heart friendly), if you are looking to seriously burn off body fat, incorporate sprint training into your workout regime. The high intensity of sprint training causes the same metabolic stress on the body as weight training. Just take a look at a sprinter’s body vs a marathoner. Have you ever seen a sprinter who carries extra cushion on them? Nope, neither have I.

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Reduce Stress. High levels of stress from work/ every day life will result in high levels of cortisol being released into the body. This will actually lead to an increase in fat mass especially around your mid-section. Take time to unwind & reduce your stress levels. Meditation,  breathing exercises, yoga are just a few ways you can reduce stress levels.

Recovery. Give your body rest. All the hard work you put in the gym, although beneficial, is still a stress placed on your body. Too much of a good thing can ultimately lead to overuse injuries, fatigue and even weaken your immune system. Allow your body time to repair & rebuild, and always listen to your body.

Happy Training 🙂

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Set Goals and Track Your Progress

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So with the New Year approaching, the gyms will be full of those whose resolutions are to: lose weight; build muscle; gain strength; build booties; tone.. etc etc.
Now are these goals being set realistically? The majority, probably not.
You see we tend to have our eyes set on the end result.. but a lot of people don’t take into account the steps needed to get you there.
And what happens when you’ve bought a gym membership/classes and/or spent an ‘X’ amount of money on a personal trainer; or purchased the services of a nutritionist..and after the first few weeks have gone by you realize you haven’t seen your numbers change.. or that you’re still having to struggle to put on your favourite pair of jeans? What happens then?

You lose motivation. You want to give up. You think it’s impossible.

But the truth is, it’s not impossible. Everything is possible with enough determination, dedication, and… the proper plan.

Coaches have game plans; architects have blueprints; teachers have lesson plans… (you get my drift). These plans have a basic structure to them: the necessary steps needed to achieve an end result.
They provide guidance. They provide a time frame. And there will even be a plan B, C, or D in case something goes wrong.

This is where having a plan set in place is crucial if you are serious about your fitness goals.

Setting Realistic Goals

Be specific. Instead of saying I want to lose weight, state the exact amount of fat loss you are looking to achieve. Ex: 20pds of fat mass

Make sure that the goals you want to achieve are realistic. If your goal is to lose 20pds in one month, you might want to re-evaluate. Healthy fat loss is 1-2pds per week (4-8pds/month), this ensures that you are not losing a significant amount of muscle mass.

Track Your Progress
This is an important part of reaching your goals. Keep a workout journal to track your progress in the gym; a food journal or calorie app will help keep track of what and how much you’re consuming.
My favorite way of tracking my progress is with pictures. By taking bi-weekly or monthly pictures I can compare and actually see changes in my physique that I might miss by looking in the mirror.

Note: I did not include weighing yourself as a way to track progress because the scale does not tell you the whole story. The scale might not even budge but if your clothes are suddenly fitting better or even too big..then you know you are doing something right.

Anticipate Obstacles
Hey, life gets in the way more often than not. Obstacles are also a natural part of change. By coming up with strategies to overcome obstacles, you won’t be caught off guard when you hit a speed bump.
Avoid seeing obstacles as a reason to quit, instead use them as a learning opportunity and improve on strategies. This will ensure you are ready the next time you find yourself in the same situation.

(Here’s a good article on setting fitness goals.)

So to all those starting new at the gym this January.. I wish you luck & success on your fitness journey.
To the veterans.. I wish you gains, gains and nothing but gains! 💪

Monday Motivation

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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:

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☆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

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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.

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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 ☺

What’s Your ‘Why’?

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     “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
                     -Aristotle

What’s your why?.. Your reason for doing this?
Why do you want to commit to a totally different lifestyle when you’re pretty damn comfortable with the one you currently have?
Why would you put yourself through the soreness.. the frustrations.. the discipline this new way of life will require?

These are questions you need to ask yourself before starting on a new fitness program. Whether you are doing it on your own, and especially if you will be paying for a coach to guide you through it, you need to have a strong reason for doing it. Because if you don’t then most likely you will find yourself in the same place you started.

You need to realize that sacrifices will need to be made, and this is where most people will get turned off. They don’t want to give up their sleep/down-time/family time, ‘give up their social life’, or the multiple- times-a-week restaurant outings, or their favourite {insert junk food here}. Because they need to have a life right?

But see this is where most people are wrong. You don’t have to give up your social life/ family time.. but you do need to make sacrifices. You need to decide whether your health is more important than all the excuses you make. If you’re not feeding your body right and exercising then you’re not taking care of yourself. And it will catch up to you at some point because it always does (just look at how many people you know that suffer from type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, etc that live an unhealthy lifestlye). If you’re not healthy how can you take care of your family? Enjoy time with friends & family?
Yes it’s going to be hard in the beginning and you’re going to need a hell of alot of will power as your body ‘detoxes’ itself.. but once you get over that initial mountain and you fall into a routine.. and start to see the first changes in your body, then you will realize it’s all worth it.

Quick fact: According to this study it does not take 21 days to form  habit , rather it’s  dependant on the individual, environmental factors, the habit being formed, etc.

So find that Why and let it be your driving force. Don’t do it for anyone other than yourself. Don’t let any excuse be bigger than your Why. There will always be obstacles but it’s up to you to overcome them.

Where My Journey Began

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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 🙂

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