Category Archives: Uncategorized

How to Create Successful Habits

 

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is a book that explains the science of habit formation and change. It defines for us why habits are subconsciously created and how we can change existing habits to build better habits.

 

Habits form because our minds are always looking to save effort so we can remember and accomplish all the things we have to do every day. Habits make things happen in our life with next to no effort once they are established. In other words, habits free valuable space in our brains.

 

The book tells the story of a toothpaste known as Pepsodent and how it successfully started people brushing their teeth daily. We will use the example of brushing your teeth to show the process of habit formation.

 

As a child you have to be reminded by your parents to brush but after performing this task repeatedly a pattern begins to develop in your mind and it then becomes habitual. At first your brain must work hard to establish a cue from the environment to offer as a clue to what follows next in the pattern. This is identified as “the habit loop” requiring three steps to complete.

 

The first is the cue to tell your brain to enter the automatic mode and which habit to use. Second is the routine followed by the third step which is the reward. The reward tells you if you should remember this habit for future use. Let’s look at a common habit loop. You brush your teeth after your morning shower daily so you don’t forget. The cue is the shower, the routine is to brush your teeth and the reward is a clean mouth or fresh breath. Once this habit is established it takes no conscious effort on your part. It will just naturally happen, that is if you take daily showers. Now your mind has time to focus on other more important tasks. To understand how habits work is essential to making sustainable change in exercising, healthy nutrition and other things in life.

 

When seeking to make any type of change, it is best to only work on one habit at a time. Statistics show that if you tackle one habit your success rate is greater than 85% in making that habit permanent. If you try to work on two habits at the same time, those numbers fall to less than 35%. More than two it plummets to a less than 10% chance of succeeding.

 

An example is if you want to “break the habit” of drinking soda daily then simply work on drinking more water. If you currently are drinking soda with your meals (cue) then sub in a glass of water (routine) instead. You will save money and lose weight (reward) even if you drink diet soda. I would like to add to this that it is better to focus on building new or better habits than breaking old ones. This takes the negative out and keeps the action positive. By focusing on the positive action, it is then a more natural progression that the negative action will be eliminated.  Another example would be to eat less refined carbohydrates and sugar by focusing your meals around lean protein and lots of vegetables. You will naturally have less room for carbohydrates, maintain a stable blood sugar, improved satiety and lose weight.

 

To get started building sustainable life-changing habits, identify a cue or trigger to attach your new habit to and work only on one habit at a time. Perform the habit for two weeks consistently and track your progress. If you slip, don’t give up, just start the process over until you achieve 14 days straight. Anyone can do anything for 14 days right? If you fail at your new habit, it maybe that it is too big a change and needs to broke into smaller steps. Start by just drinking water with one meal a day or giving up that afternoon soda you have after lunch to achieve success.

 

Remember success doesn’t usually come in a quick fix that will stick with you. It is better to be patient and consistent for sustainable change.

 

The Spice of Life

Spices have been around for thousands of centuries. In early Egypt, they 
were used in the mummification process and as a means to preserve food. 
They have been used as currency and to cover “bad” odors before running 
water and soap were so available. Different kinds of spices were spread 
around the world by early European explorers who used them in their 
travels. When we think of a spice today, our mind goes to their current use 
as a way to flavor or season our food. Many, though, are not aware of the 
natural health benefit spices have to offer in our lives.  
 
Spices originate from different part of many plants. Some spices are from 
the leaves of the plant such as basil, rosemary and thyme. Others are from 
the bark such as cinnamon. The seeds or fruits give us vanilla and coriander 
to just name a few. They can be ground, crushed, dried or grated fresh to 
release their essential oils or flavors to tease our taste buds and spice up our 
recipes. Now that we have discussed their early use and how they came to 
be, let’s look at the health benefits. 
 
Garlic is known to boost our immune system, lower blood pressure and 
cholesterol. Cinnamon helps to control and lower blood sugar, which is 
useful for diabetics. Cayenne pepper aids in appetite suppression and 
increases fat burning for the goal of weight loss. Turmeric and ginger are 
both known for having potent anti-inflammatory properties and useful for 
those suffering from gastrointestinal ailments. Constant low-level 
inflammation in our body is linked to many chronic diseases such as 
diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Although you can locate many of these in 
pill or capsule form in drug stores, we suggest it’s best to use the actual 
spice in your daily diet. Use cinnamon in your morning coffee, turmeric in 
your eggs and a little garlic makes most everything taste better! Here is a 
recipe for a tea made of turmeric and ginger to drink after a good workout 
session or anytime you feel a bit under the weather or have a flare of your 
arthritic pain. Be careful with turmeric though it gives mustard its bright 
yellow color so it will stain counter tops and kitchen towels. 
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1 cup of water 
1/3 teaspoon of ground ginger  
1/3 teaspoon of ground tumeric  
Raw honey to taste  
Fresh squeezed lemon 
 
Boil the water and add the spices and honey. Simmer on low for 5 minutes 
or longer. To get the most benefit from the turmeric sprinkle in some black 
pepper. There will be a future post about Food Synergy. Pour into a mug or 
serve over ice.  
 
You can double or even triple the recipe if you like. Enjoy! 

In Fitness and in Health?

fitandhealthy

Fitness and health are two things that seem to be illusive to us at times. We look around and see “fit” people all over, and wonder “why can’t that be me?”. If you walk into a fitness center on a Saturday morning, you’ll see plenty of these “fit” individuals. Some are in the free-weight section pumping iron, others are on the elliptical chugging away and still more are in the sauna sweating out those last bit of toxins. With all of these fit people, you may wonder how they get to be so healthy. But, are fit and healthy the same thing? And if you’re “fit”, are you actually healthy?

 

First, let’s understand “fitness” and what it is. The term fitness, in the context we use it today, is defined differently depending on where you look. For instance, Webster’s defines fitness as “the quality or state of being fit”; Dictionary.com defines it as “capability of the body of distributing inhaled oxygen to muscle tissue during increased physical effort”; our friend Wikipedia defines it as “a general state of health and well-being and the ability to perform aspects of sports and occupations. So, as you can see, our defining bodies can’t agree on what it “fitness” actually is. If you use these definitions, then the people that you see at the gym are “fit”…but really, so is everybody else.

 

The term fitness comes from biology. In biology, fitness is clearly defined as “an organism’s ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment”. Being that we are all organisms and that we can clearly survive and reproduce in most environments, we are all “fit” by the true definition of the term. All we decided to do was take biological fitness and turn it into physical fitness, then make it confusing by applying 100 different definitions to “physical fitness”.

 

So, by all accounts, the muscly guy lifting weights is fit, so is the skinny girl on the elliptical and the seasoned gentlemen in the sauna. But, so is everybody else. We are all just on different parts of the “fitness continuum”.

 

Now that we’ve decided that everybody is actually “fit” (just at different levels), let’s see if the fitter individuals we see are also healthier than those that look less fit (did I confuse you yet?).

 

Health is clearly defined as “the state of being free from illness or injury”. We are all living, moving, breathing beings. And because our lives are spent living, moving and breathing, we will all encounter some sort of wear and tear at some point in our lives. Whether it be from a sports injury, car accident or simply because you worked on a farm and your vertebrae in your back eventually wore out. So our injury will impact our level of health. We also may develop high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, or diabetes and have to take medication. Or maybe we just get the flu or a sinus infection that will eventually go away. All of this impacts where we are on the “health continuum”. And this is constantly changing.

 

So, by all accounts, the muscly guy lifting weights is not healthy because he has bad shoulders and can’t lift his arms over his head; the skinny girl on the elliptical is not healthy because she has plantar fasciitis from running too much (which is why she’s on the elliptical); the seasoned gentlemen in the sauna are not healthy because one of them is on blood pressure meds and the other has diabetes. But, here’s the thing, neither is anybody else.

 

Understand that the point of this article was not to undermine the hard work and perseverance it takes to go into the gym on a regular basis. As a matter of fact, the purpose is the complete opposite. Understand that we are all healthy and fit at some level. Just because someone is skinny and lean doesn’t mean they are healthier than you, although they may be more fit. On the other hand, if someone is free of injury and illness, this doesn’t mean they are more fit than you, although they may be healthier. The goal is to get closer and closer to the right side of the “fitness” and “health” continua (I had to look up the plural of continuum…). This means always fighting to be fitter and healthier than you were the day before.

 

If you read this whole article, thank you for your patience. It took a while to get to the point, but I’m hopeful it was clear.

Play

Cross-linked from sharonkuntz.wordpress.com/

 

So, I got the idea for this blog from a few sources.  First, a book called Original Strength by Tim Anderson and Geoff Neupert explains in great detail how to reset your body back to how it was when you were young, with that flexible active body you had as a kid.  As we get older, we stop moving how we were meant to move, and then our bodies learn that we don’t need certain movements or ranges of motion, simply because we train them that we don’t.  Then, when you’re challenged to a game of Twister with your kids, you wonder what happened to that stretchy body you once had, and wonder where this new, creaky, cracky one came from.  Well, this book will explain that for you; I recommend you check it out.  Next, Dr. Andreo Spina is a genius when it comes to this stuff.  He actually trains people to become as mobile as they should be.  He also speaks a lot about this and other topics that are very important and interesting, but I’m not going to mention them all, but I highly encourage you to check him out as well.  You will learn a lot.  Lastly, my sister just had a baby boy, meaning I’m a first time aunt.  That being said, I immediately became very excited about teaching my new nephew all sorts of fun things, playing various sports with him, taking him hiking and biking, and eventually showing him the ropes in the gym.  (Literally, and figuratively).  I can only hope he enjoys being active as much as me!

Anyway, I’ll get to the point of this blog; I just wanted to give a shout out to some sources first.  When you are a baby, you can move almost to an unlimited extent.  As you get older, some of that mobility goes away due to bones fully developing and just a lack of use.  As a child, though, you are usually still very flexible and able to perform a plethora of physical tasks.  The older you get, the less mobility you have in your joints.  This, again, is from a lack of movement.  As we progress in age, we move less and less.  As a baby, you kick, you wave, you learn to move all of your body parts for the first time; each is a new discovery and intrigues you.  Once you move past the fact that you have two arms, two hands, ten fingers, etc., you no longer focus on moving these parts, and you only move them when necessary rather than moving them just to move them.  As a toddler and young child, you explore your world.  You move into small spaces, you climb, run, fall, jump, and crawl.  You constantly utilize your body whenever possible.  When you become school age, you move less.  You have to sit in a classroom for much of the day.  If you’re lucky, you get to be active in the classroom and you have ample outdoor recess time, however, this still doesn’t allow as much active time as our bodies were meant to get.

Think about when humans first came into existence.  We had to hunt and gather food.  We had to build shelter ourselves.  We had to run from predators, move long distances to find water, and basically just live a very physically and mentally challenging life in general.  Now, I’m not saying we should all just go out and start living exactly like our ancestors, but we can learn a thing or two from them.  From childhood, the problem of lack of movement only becomes worse and worse with age unless you are involved heavily in sports or other physical activity.  Most adults are not involved in any physical activity, or at least not a lot.  They are busy working 40+ hours per week and taking care of children and other duties.  Parents, however, should realize that “playing” with their child is important for the child and themselves.

A growing problem in the country today is that many parents cannot or do not physically play with their children.  This occurs for a variety of reasons.  One, they “don’t have time.”  I dislike this quote very much for reasons that would be topic for another blog post.  Two, they are obese or overweight and simply cannot do as much as a more fit parent could do.  Three, they don’t feel like it/don’t feel that it is necessary.  Well, I’m here to tell you that it is far from unnecessary.  I would consider it vital to your own and your child’s health, to your child’s development, and to your own and your child’s happiness and well being.  As a Personal Trainer who graduated college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, I stand firm on the idea that physical activity is essential for happiness and well being.

Playing is what keeps children flexible, strong, and happy.  Have you ever noticed that your 8 year old daughter can probably do more pull-ups than you?  This isn’t always the case, but it is common.  Children run, jump, climb, throw, crawl, pretend to be animals, chase each other, hide, and many other things, all for fun.  They don’t “go take a jog” to “burn off that ice cream,” they “go play.”  “Play” is associated with “fun.”  When you “have to go to the gym,” that is associated with “work.”  “Work” is associated with negative emotion.  As a Personal Trainer, you can probably guess that I actually enjoy working out.  I do.  But I have a lot more fun going outside and actually playing.  In addition, play uses the body in a different way than most forced exercise does.  It uses the body in only natural ways.  As a kid, you don’t think about the way you jump, the way you run, the way you climb, etc.  You just do what comes natural.  If you give a child a dumbbell and tell them to do a dumbbell snatch, they’re going to look at you like you’re crazy.  Even after explaining what it is and how to do it, they’re going to look at you like you’re crazy.

The reason we work out, as Andreo Spina has said, is to make up for the fact that we no longer have to forage for food and other such activities cavemen did.  I think strength training is a wonderful tool to help you lose weight, build strength, and get healthy.  I am by no means saying that people shouldn’t go to the gym and “work out.”  What I am saying is that people should actually “play” as much as possible.  If working out is “play” for you, that’s fine.  But the rule is, it has to actually be FUN while you’re doing it!  If working out isn’t fun for you, which it isn’t for very many people, I want you to go have real fun while playing!  Go to the beach and build a sand castle.  Go in the woods and build a fort out of sticks, then go for a hike and climb a tree.  Crawl on the ground with your cat and pretend you are one in the same.  Okay, maybe people (or your cat) will look at you funny if you do that.  Heck, people might look at you funny if you do any of these if you’re over the age of 13.  But I’m trying to turn the world away from thinking it is weird to play.  I think everyone should play, no matter your age.

I realize that work often gets in the way of “life” for most people.  I know and understand that it is much easier to get off work and watch TV while you eat dinner and then go to bed and do it all again in the morning.  I am a human too.  Sometimes I just want to lay in bed and not move for a few hours.  This means we are tired, worn out, and just beat.  Take your rest.  A little off topic but equally important, this is another thing we can learn from kids.  They rest when they’re tired.  They don’t finish a game of tag, exhausted and out of breath, and move straight to a game of baseball without rest, saying, “I have to play all these games, no time to rest!”  We may think we don’t have time to rest, but we can make time.  Just like we can make time to play.  Cut out an hour of TV watching per day and there you go, rest and play time.  We as adults just don’t realize all the things we could make time for if we cut something unnecessary out.  I know, it isn’t always that easy, but there is always a way.

To conclude, I simply ask that you make it a point to add some “play” into your life.  Any kind of play works, whether it be a sport, or just playing as a child would, or even finding your own way to play.  As long as you are active, moving those joints and using those muscles, and having fun, you can consider it “play.”  Even better, get some friends, family, and pets involved!

5 Things for which I am Grateful

grateful

 

Cross-linked from jerryscarlato.com

 

So, last week for the Post Workout Rambling Session (abbreviated PWRS from her on out), I talked a little bit about being grateful. That wasn’t the main topic (you can see the video HERE), however, this seemed to be the point that resonated with people the most.

 

Being grateful seems simple enough, right? I mean, we live in a country of abundance, where most of us have cars, a lot of us have plenty of food, and all of us have a cell phone (yeah….try living without that for a day!). And yet, we are also the most depressed country in the world (check it out)!! I digress, the point is we should appreciate what we have because there is someone much worse off than you right down the road.

 

With that being said, here is a little of 5 things or people for which I am grateful:

 

5) Freedom – Seriously, this seems silly, I know. However, try living somewhere in which you cannot make many decisions about your life. Actually, here is a perfect example: do you enjoy the right to bare arms? I imagine if you do, you get rather upset when gun regulation comes up. That is freedom. Don’t take it for granted.

 

4) Our clients at Thrive Fitness – This one may not seem obvious at first and it may not be for the reason that you are thinking. I am grateful for our clients because, they can make the decision to go wherever they want for their fitness needs, but they trust us. They also allow us to be able to do what we love, help others become better versions of themselves. And finally, our clients make our job fun, with all of the combinations of personalities thrown together, you never know what you’re going to get from day to day. I love that.

 

3) Free weights – This one is kind of meatheadish of me, I know….but let me explain myself. Without free weights, we would not have the opportunity to push our bodies to other extremes outside of what we can achieve with our own body weight. Free weights can allow us to achieve higher levels athletically and within our own personal fitness goals. They can also make you look good naked…if you’re into that kind of thing.

 

1b) Family – These last two will be obvious, but are extremely important and often overlooked. We take our families for granted because we see them all of the time and typically consider them to be annoyances more often than not. The fact is, this is your first support system. Without it, you would probably be lost and lonely. Be appreciative of your family and what they offer you and don’t take them for granted. I am not perfect at this, but an working to let them see how much they have helped me develop into the person I am.

 

1a) My wife – The irony behind our relationships with our spouses is that, although this is supposed to be the person that we love and care for more than any other human on Earth, it is also the person that we treat like crap the easiest. Now, obviously when you’re trying to mesh one personality with another for a lifetime, things will not always be smiles and roses…we are all human afterall. There is a great saying that we so easily see the speck in our neighbor’s eye while we ignore the log in our own. Obviously we are replacing neighbor with spouse in this instance, but the idea is the same.

 

This is a list of 5 things out of thousands for which I am grateful. Start your own list tomorrow, do it every day, and see how your mindset starts to change.

 

Who is right?

Cross-posted from sharonkuntz.wordpress.com

 

With so much conflicting information on the internet and circulating around at work and between friends and family, it’s hard to know what you SHOULD or SHOULD NOT do as far as health goes.  Why is this?  Its 2015; we should know by now what is healthy and what isn’t, right?  Are people just throwing random statements out there and calling them facts?  Well, maybe, but there is a different reason for the conflicting information out there.  What is best for one person isn’t necessarily best for another.

You have to keep the goal in mind when planning a training routine or new diet.  Here’s an example.  A 120 pound female who is 5’2” wants to get healthy by starting an exercise routine and eating better.  The best exercise routine for her wouldn’t be to lift heavy weights for two hours a day six days a week.  It also wouldn’t be recommended that she start running five miles a day seven days a week.  She doesn’t wish to lose weight particularly, nor does she want to gain muscle mass.  Her goal is simply to be healthy.  An exercise routine of moderate strength training and some moderate cardio about three days a week with some leisure walking would probably be recommended.  She also wouldn’t be put on a very low carb diet, or a high protein diet.  She would probably benefit most from a diet with only whole, unprocessed foods with some protein, some healthy fat, and some carbohydrates in every meal.  (Standard intake for protein is about 30% of your diet, carbohydrates are 40% of your diet, and fat is 30% of your diet.)  Depending on her activity level for each individual day these numbers could vary.

Uninformed people will often hear advice from a friend about eating healthy and exercising.  They will try the same thing and perhaps gain weight when they want to lose it, lose weight when they want to gain it, or any other variation of not getting the results they wanted.  You can’t ask your 300 pound body building friend what he does in the gym and then go try to do the same things and expect to lose 10 pounds by next month.  If you want results, you have to do some research.

Obviously, junk food is bad for you.  We all should know this by now.  A bag of potato chips, chocolate cake, or a McDonalds Big Mac are unhealthy foods.  But, why?  There are many reasons these foods are unhealthy.  I’m no nutritionist, but I can tell you that humans were not made to eat fried foods.  We were not made to eat processed foods.  Our bodies weren’t equipped for processing this junk we put into our bodies.  Just because someone created it and called it food doesn’t mean it is really supposed to be eaten.  When humans were created, it was not known that we would one day be eating this stuff.  This is why we have a hard time digesting these foods.  Some of us are so used to it that we don’t even notice or pay attention to our problems, but they are there.  When you eat something that isn’t real food, you may get bloated.  This is from inflammation in your cells.  To better understand inflammation, think about when you hurt yourself.  More blood goes to the injury to help heal it, causing it to swell and turn red.  The same thing happens inside your body when you eat something that your body wasn’t made to digest.  It gets inflamed.  Also, you may notice gas or diarrhea (I know, we don’t like to talk about these things) after eating certain things like White Castle or Taco Bell.  A little gas every once in a while is normal, however, excessive gas and any diarrhea is a sign that something is wrong inside your body.  The reason diarrhea occurs is to flush your body of toxins, so why would you choose to purposely eat something that will give you diarrhea?  This being said, EVERYONE should stay away from these types of foods.  Other aspects of diet can vary for each individual and goal, however.  Some people are intolerant to dairy.  Some are intolerant to wheat.  As long as you’re eating real, whole food, you don’t have to worry about too much besides eating right for your goal.

Okay enough with the nutrition lesson, that isn’t what this is about.  Basically, eat whole foods and you’re on the right track.  You can do your own research on what food does to your body, or consult a nutritionist, but be aware that every person is different.  Just because your body building friend eats 130 grams of protein per day doesn’t mean you should.

The same goes with exercise.  To burn fat, high intensity exercise is recommended.  High metabolic work burns more calories in a shorter period of time.  If you want to maintain strength or get stronger but not gain a large amount of muscle mass, do full body lifts for about 8-10 repetitions in three sets.  If your goal is to build a lot of strength and muscle mass, do fewer repetitions (between 4 and 6) for three to four sets.  Again, don’t just do four repetitions of heavy bicep curls for four sets if you aren’t looking to really gain some bicep strength.  Full body workouts are typically the best way to go for efficiency purposes.  You can work more in a shorter period of time while gaining strength and burning fat.  This can include exercises like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, chin-ups, push-ups, etc.

I’m not going to list all of the different ways you can best exercise and eat for each separate goal here.  I have given many examples, so from this I hope you can understand that every person is different.  People have different goals.  Just because someone tells you something, or you read something online, doesn’t mean it is the best thing for you to do.  I encourage you to do your research and find out what is best for your individual goals and body type.

Why do you need a personal trainer?

Cross-posted from sharonkuntz.wordpress.com

 

As a personal trainer, even I think it is important for everyone, including myself, to have a personal trainer of some sort.  I would not hire a personal trainer for myself, since I am a personal trainer, but it is wise for trainers to have co-workers and friends who are personal trainers to watch you work out, work out with you, or just give you advice from time to time.  If you aren’t a trainer yourself, it is very wise to have a personal trainer or at least someone who will hold you accountable and lend you advice.

You see, the issue with almost everyone isn’t that they have no clue what to do for exercise.  A great majority of people know that you can do squats for your legs, pushups for your chest and arms, and pullups for you back, arms, and core.  The issue is that people lack the motivation to work out.

I love to work out.  It encompasses a great portion of my life.  I actually find joy in it, not only after, but also during, and I look forward to it.  Some days, however, I do not.  Some days, it is cold outside, I’m sore, my cats want me to stay home and play with them… okay now I’m just naming excuses.  But really, sometimes it is hard to get yourself to work out, whether you have equipment at home, or you have to go to the gym.  I have equipment at home and at the gym, and personally, I find it easier to convince myself to go to the gym than I do to work out at  home.  Why?  Because when I go to the gym, I have to work out.  That’s all there is to do there.  At home, I can lift a dumbbell, then go read a book.  Or swing my kettle bell a few times, then my cats come in the room bugging me.  If I get hungry, I’ll go eat mid-workout rather than waiting until I get home.  There are just too many distractions.  It is nice if you WANT to work out at that given time, but otherwise, it is difficult to motivate yourself.

Now, it probably sounds like I don’t really like to work out.  I do, I really do.  But everyone knows that sometimes  you just don’t feel like it.  The average person ‘doesn’t feel like it’ most of the time.  A personal trainer is very helpful in these situations.

Accountability is key.  If you have no one pushing you to work out, you will be more likely to skip that 6:00am workout before work.  If you told your trainer you would be there at 6:00am, you would feel bad cancelling (or at least I would hope so, they got out of bed early for you).  Not only are you accountable for showing up for your workouts, you are also held accountable for your progression.  If you are receiving nutritional advice or advice to help with an injury or a bum knee, the trainer knows if  you have followed the advice or not by your next few visits.  You can’t just eat the cake and cookies at the party, then complain that you aren’t losing weight.  You were given the tools, you just have to use them.

Another reason everyone needs a personal trainer is to learn the point of view of someone else.  Before I started working where I currently work, I thought I knew so much about working out.  I had my routine down pat and it was perfect (except for the overuse injuries I kept running into, and except for the huge plateau I had hit.)  Sometimes, it’s time for a change.  At my new job, I learned a new way of doing things.  From experience, I have found that it is a much better way of doing things.  Had I not explored, I would not have discovered this as fast, or maybe not at all.  The way I was training was slowly tearing my body down faster than it was building it up.  My current boss (who obviously is also a personal trainer) trained me before I started training people.  Having a trainer taught me so much about myself.  My deadlift form wasn’t perfect.  My swings form wasn’t perfect.  I shouldn’t work out (hard) 7 days per week.  I never would have thought that I needed a personal trainer!  It was one of the best learning experiences I’ve had.

Which brings me to another reason everyone needs a personal trainer… form.  Form is the most important thing when it comes to working out.  Improper form can lead to injury at the worst, and no gains at the best.  Nothing good can come from improper form.  You may watch yourself in the mirror while you do your lifting, yet your form may still suffer.  You cannot see yourself from all angles.  You may not know exactly what proper form even looks like.  Whatever the cause is, I can guarantee that there is SOMETHING that your form isn’t perfect on.

If you don’t agree with any of these reasons because your form is totally perfect always, you’re highly motivated, and you know the best possible way to train already, maybe this will convince you.  If you train yourself, you will treat yourself unfairly.  You don’t like single leg squats, then you won’t put them into your routine.  (This is me for example.)  You have a weak upper body and don’t like to bench, you won’t put it in your routine.  These are important exercises that you CAN do without hurting yourself, but if  you don’t like to do them, you won’t.  You may sub out a different exercise which isn’t necessarily always a bad thing, but you need variety and progression in your workouts.  If you are your own trainer, you will likely stick with what you feel comfortable with, or change it up too often just because you don’t like a certain exercise because it is harder.  If you have a trainer, however, you will do what you have to do because, well, they told you to do it.  Unless something actually hurts in a bad way then you probably aren’t going to (seriously) ask your trainer if you can stop doing it and do something else instead.  You will suck it up and do it.  Also, on the opposite end, you may over exert yourself just because you want to or you enjoy it.  This is where I was a year ago.  I worked out 6-7 days per week, and did most of my exercises until failure.  I had a shoulder overuse injury, my back constantly hurt, my “bad” knee was really killing me.  Yet, I continued to workout like this.  Now, I work out 3 days per week with some small, easy workouts and walking/cycling/sprinting in between.  I haven’t had an overuse injury since.  If I didn’t have a personal trainer, I would still train my old way.  I no longer have a pass to a 24 hour gym, however I do have the key to a gym and could go whenever I want.  I don’t go all the time though because now I know better.

If this isn’t enough reasons to convince you that life is better with a personal trainer, then don’t get yourself a personal trainer.  It is important to find a trainer who is right for you, so do your research before just jumping into it with anyone.  Chances are if you find someone who is right for you, even after you learn plenty of exercises and feel like you can do it on your own, you will probably stick with a personal trainer because you realize that having a trainer will enhance your workouts more than any workout video on the market.

About me and how I got started

Cross-posted from sharonkuntz.wordpress.com

 

Hi, I’m Sharon Kuntz.  I am a Personal Trainer at Thrive Fitness in Alexandria, KY.  I graduated from Northern Kentucky University in May of 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.  I enjoy being active outdoors, doing anything from walking to playing basketball to canoeing, and everything in between!  I also enjoy reading and learning in my spare time.

My interest in Personal Training started late in my college career.  In my third year of college, I had actually decided that I really wanted to pursue a career in Psychology.  In my fifth year, I decided I really did not want to pursue a career in Psychology, which was a big set back for me.  I continued with my Psychology education  because by this time I already had all of my Psychology classes under my belt besides one.  This is when a co-worker asked what it is I would do if I had to work without getting paid.  My answer was: “Exercise.”  That lit the spark that I needed to determine where my future was heading.

I started weight lifting consistently about one year after I graduated high school, and I committed to a gym membership at Planet Fitness.  I had the “Black card” membership, which allowed me to bring a friend to the gym with  me for free any time.  My friends and family started pointing out that they could see positive results in my body shortly after I started working out consistently, and began to ask me to bring them to the gym with me to show them what I do.  Many people told me I should be a personal trainer, but it was only after the first person told me that when I decided they were right, and that I wanted to become a personal trainer after school.  The only problem was that I almost had a Psychology degree.  I decided to finish out my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, but I began learning everything I could about personal training and I started (slowly) studying the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) textbook.  In the meantime, I was offered a job at Thrive fitness to gain experience before I got my certification.

In May 2015, finished my degree and began (diligently) studying for the NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) exam.  Two long and grueling months later I passed the CPT exam.  Now, I am a proud Certified Personal Trainer at Thrive Fitness.

As I continue my career, I will keep posting pages about my training style, my goals as a Personal Trainer, tips and tools to keep  you healthy and fit, and anything else I think will be helpful to readers, so stay updated!  I also have my contact information available to anyone who may be interested in contacting me personally.

Happy exercising!

The Repetition Continuum: Part III

This is the last part in a 3 part series on the Repetition Continuum. To review parts one, click HERE, and for part two, click HERE.

 

Our RC discussion is nearly completely. We’ve come a long way, from learning about the different hypertrophy types, to understanding what causes muscle damage and therefore compensation. Now we’ll put it all together and look at some repetition schemes that will help you get to your goal.

 

If you recall from part II of our series, repetitions start at the left with lower reps and more strength/power and progress to the right with higher reps and more hypertrophy/endurance. We have to take this into account when deciding what rep ranges to use for our program. Let’s look at one example. Say you’re a college sprinter (our someone who wants to be faster in general) and you want to put together and weight training and sprinting program that will help you get faster. First we look at what makes a good sprinter. Number one, you must be lean and have some decent muscle mass, but not be bulky. Number two, you must be powerful, because the more force you can produce into the ground, the more reaction you get from the ground, the faster you can leap from leg to leg, therefore the faster you will be. Knowing these two characteristics, we know that we need to keep the reps low to moderate. The majority of our work should be in the 3-5 rep range, for strength and power, with accessory work in the 6-8 rep range for some lean mass. Here’s how it might look:

 

SUPERSET:

Hang Clean              3 sets, 5 repetitions

Plank Circuit           3 sets, 30 seconds each

 

SUPERSET:

Trapbar Deadlift     5 sets, 5 repetitions

Chinups                    5 sets, 5 repetitions

 

SUPERSET:

RFE Squat                3 sets, 8 repetitions

Weighted Pushup   3 sets, 8 repetitions

Farmer’s Carry        For Distance

 

Notice that for our power exercise (hang clean) and our strength exercises (trapbar deadlift and chinups) we are staying with sets of 5 and not doing any more than 25 total reps for the exercises. For our accessory work we bump up to sets of 8, again staying under 25 total reps, using moderate weight loads and short rest periods. Our sprint training will look much the same. Since we are trying to be a sprinter and not a long distance runner, we don’t want to mess with miles. A program may look like this:

 

5         50 meter sprints

4        100 meter sprints

3        200 meter sprints

 

Again, nothing long with rest periods of 8-10 times the sprint time, so if it takes 6 seconds to run 50 meters, you rest for 48-60 seconds.

 

Next, let’s look at a soccer player. In soccer, you need speed also, but that’s not your primary goal. Here we also need endurance with a proper amount of strength and power. A soccer player may have a similar build to a sprinter, but generally has less muscle mass. The more muscles mass you have, the more oxygen your body requires, which can be a problem when you’re trying to sprint around for the length of a soccer game. So we need to develop power but also endurance:

 

SUPERSET:

Kettlebell Swing           3 sets, 15 repetitions

Plank Circuit                 3 sets, 30 seconds each

 

SUPERSET:

Deadlift                         3 sets, 5 repetitions

Chinups                        3 sets, 5 repetitions

 

SUPERSET:

RFE Squat                    3 sets, 12 repetitions

Pushups                        3 sets, AMGRAP (As Many Good Reps As Possible)

Farmer’s Carry            For Distance

 

Instead of hang cleans for pure power development, we inserted kettlebell swings, which is a great exercise to develop power, but one that you can also do for reps to enhance your endurance. We also bumped up the reps on our accessory work to get in a little more muscular endurance as well. Conditioning for a soccer player would stay with shorter distances but have significantly less rest. Tempo runs would be great here, which include sprinting for a certain distance, then walking a certain distance:

 

TEMPO RUN:

Sprint 100 meters, Walk 100 meter. Repeat 5 times adding 1 round a week

 

Shorter rest periods will allow for better development of your oxidative energy system (long duration) while also helping with the anaerobic systems (short duration).

 

Hopefully these examples have been of some help. Plugging in the right reps or right distance or right rest periods for your goals is important, so keep an eye on it and remember to KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid!

The Repetition Continuum: Part II

hypertrophy

 

Last time in our RC series we talked about muscles fiber and motor unit types and how the work relative to getting stronger or getting bigger. For a review, HERE is a link to the article to get you caught up.

 

So we have a general understanding of the different types of hypertrophy (myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic). This time we’ll look at how we accomplish each type of hypertrophy through different forms of resistance training, sets, reps and so on.

 

There are 3 main pathways to hypertrophy, each of which will develop myofibrillar (stronger) and sarcoplasmic (bigger) to a certain extent. Each pathway can be linked with a certain number of reps, or time under tension, to help accomplish the goal you are shooting for:

 

1) Progressive Tension Overload

This is basically a fancy way of saying “put more weight on the bar”. This form of training tends to lend itself to more myofibrillar (stronger) hypertrophy. To accomplish progressive overload effectively we need to keep our repetitions and duration low. You are looking at 1-5 reps for strength gain, or less than 10-15 seconds for speed work. Isometrics and eccentrics also fit into this category, inducing myofibrillar hypertrophy.

 

2) Muscle Damage

 

When you perform an exercise, there are 3 different types of contractions that will happen while performing the exercise: eccentric (lengthening), isometric (static) and concentric (shortening) contractions. Eccentric contractions are the type that will cause the most overall damage to a muscle. Between 5-12 repetitions is where this will take the best effect, causing mostly sarcoplasmic (bigger) hypertrophy. This rep scheme gives you the best time under tension for this type of hypertrophy.

 

3) Cellular Fatigue

 

Cellular fatigue is pushing your muscles to the absolute max to induce total fatigue. These rep schemes typically include anything from 8 – 20 repetitions. Anything after 20 reps will be considered endurance, or aerobic based.

 

Now you have a general outline of what type of repetitions you should be doing for your goals. If your goal is to get as strong as you can, it’s probably not a good idea to do sets of 15….stick with 3-5 repetitions. Conversely, if your goal is to get as big as you can be, you need 8-15 repetitions per set to hit the sweet spot.

 

So you see, the RC starts at the left with short duration, small repetitions for strength, and works its way to the right with longer duration, high repetitions for hypertrophy and endurance. This should give you some idea of where to go with your next workout.

 

For part III of this series, we’ll look at what a couple of programs would look like depending on your goals.