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 🙂

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! 💪

Eating & Training For Your Body Type

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So you’ve probably heard alot about the different body types  and might be confused as to what this all means ( don’t get confused with body shape, ex: hourglass, pear, apple, square..etc).

THE 3 SOMATOTYPES

In the 1940s Dr. William H. Sheldon introduced the concept of body types, or somatotypes. Since then, nutritionists, exercise physiologists, and even doctors have used it as an aid in designing effective, individualized fitness plans. The concept is that we all fall into the three categories below (although you can possess attributes of two different categories or even all three). Keep in mind that these are generalizations on basic skeletal somatotypes.

The body type that we are born with is based on an inherited skeletal frame and body composition. Most people are unique combinations of the three body types: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. Some typical somatotype combinations include pear-shaped ecto-endomorphs (thin, delicate upper bodies & high fat storage in the hips and thighs), and apple-shaped endo-ectomorphs (high fat storage in the mid-section & thin lower bodies).

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The “I” Type

• Aka: Ectomorph
• Are thin, with smaller bone structures and thinner limbs ( Ex:typical endurance athlete, basketball players, runway models).
• Low body fat & low muscle. They have a hard time gaining mass.
• Have a fast metabolic rate.They’re high-energy and tend to burn off excess calories with near-constant movement throughout the day.
•High tolerance of carbs. Can eat almost anything without affecting their weight.

Nutrition & Training for ” I ” Types

• Higher carbohydrates in the diet + moderate protein + lower fat intake.
• Limit cardio to 1x/ week or even eliminate if possible
• Train each body part 2x/ week
• Vary your rep range. Train in the 5-8 rep range for your compound lifts (squats, deadlifts, bench press, etc.), but go up into the 8-15 rep range with smaller muscle groups.
• Ensure proper rest & recovery as this body type can easliy overtrain.

The V” Type

• Aka: Mesomorph
• Athletic, solid, and strong. Not overweight and not underweight,
• Can gain and lose weight without too much effort.
• Usually have a considerable amount of lean mass (Ex:explosive athletes like sprinters, wrestlers and gymnasts).
• Are built to be powerful machines. Excess calories often go to lean mass and dense bones.
• Tend to be testosterone & growth hormone dominant. If active this type can easily gain muscle and stay lean.

Nutrition & Training for “V” Types

• A mixed diet, with balanced carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
• Cardio should be 3x/ week or less. Mesomorphs will benefit most from HIIT
• Due to rapid adaptation to conditioning, the body should be constantly hit with a combination of slow & moderate exercises, focusing on full ROM with weight training exercises that use fast reps produce good results.
• Hitting compound muscle groups with heavy weights followed by targeted isolation and definition exercises at a mid rep range of 8-12 works well. Legs should be hit with both low and high reps.

The “O” Type

• Aka: Endomorph
• Larger bone structure with higher amounts of total body mass and fat mass. (Ex:Football linemen, powerlifters, and throwers).
• Have the slowest metabolism
• Are built for solid comfort, not speed.
• Naturally less active, which means excess calories are more likely to be stored as fat.

Nutrition & Training for “O” Types

• Endomorphs don’t tolerate carbohydrates well, especially if they are sedentary.
• Do best on a higher fat & protein intake with a lower carbohydrate intake being properly timed (typically post-workout).
• Cardio should be about 3-4 sessions of cardio per week of about 20-30min
• Training should include high intensity exercises with minimal rest periods between sets (60sec or less).
• To achieve maximum muscle mass, push every set for as many reps as possible, increase weight when you can to maximize progressive overload. This will keep you within hypertrophy ranges (muscle building rep ranges) & help you burn off fat & build more lean mass.

So I think I’ve covered the basics. Hope this helps you understand your body so you can adapt your eating and training to best suit your goals.
For more detailed information on nutrition for your body type (which includes some nice infographics) click here.

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.
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Happy training!

Good Mornings

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The good morning is a posteriorly top loaded hip hinge movement that works the whole posterior chain. This compound movement targets the spinal erectors, low back, hips, glutes, and hamstrings. Although often neglected it is an exercise that has many benefits:

▪ Loads the deep core muscles of the lower back
▪ Trains proper hinging and requires proper firing of the glutes
▪ Teaches you to keep the lumbar spine in a controlled posterior tilt as you extend the hips back and bring them forward
▪ Teaches you to firmly ground yourself into the floor and balance your weight from the mid-foot to the heel
▪ Prevents hamstring and low-back injuries (common in those who focus too much on the anterior chain, like quads and abs, and not enough on the posterior chain muscles)

Apart from strengthening the posterior chain, including this exercise in your training will also aid in your squat and deadlift (you will be able to lift heavier ;)).

How To Perform Good Mornings:

○ Place a barbell at shoulder height on a rack
○ Rack the bar across the rear of your shoulder blades, as you would place when performing squats. This is your starting position
○ Slowly, exhale as you bend forward by pushing out your hips behind and torso forward, till you are almost parallel to the floor or when you feel a mild stretch on your hamstrings
○Now, inhale as you go back to the starting position by pushing through your hips and hamstrings
○Keep your back straight and knees slightly bent throughout the motion

Variations

○ Wide stance good mornings (targets glutes & hamstrings more)
○ Banded good mornings

Warning

》Avoid swinging while going forward or coming back up
》Keep your spine straight and in line with your head throughout the entire range of motion
》The good morning exercise could place excess stress on the lower spine and cause significant injury if done incorrectly. Start with a very low weight slowly work up from there
》Avoid locking out the knees as this places significant stress on the low back

(See how to perform the exercise here)

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

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