No Pain, No Gain - Rambo? I don't know

written by: Karl Gellert, CESP
Personal Trainer and Coach at Infinite Fitness

When I originally wrote this post I was pretty much ranting and raving all over the place. Not really sure why I was so upset, but I've since calmed down so today you get a calmer, more logical Karl. However, there is something I'd like to get off my chest.

I'm sure you've heard the expression "work smarter, not harder"? Well that's exactly what I want to talk about.

We can break exercise into two basic components - stress and recovery. As we all know, building muscle, losing fat, increasing endurance etc. is an adaptation to a stressor placed on the body.

To sum it up in simple terms, when we break down a part of our body, within reason, it adapts and rebuilds stronger - the law of adaptation.

Now, I'm a fan of hard work. It's really the only way to make progress in your workout life, regardless of how you personally define that - be it cycling, strongman, running, or fighting grizzly bears with your bare hands. So before I start I'm going to make sure you understand this:

Consistent, hard work is the only way to make a lasting and sustainable change in your body

There's just no way around it.

Now that we have that out of the way, the whole "no pain, no gain" mentality should be left in the smouldering dumpster fire that was the 80's (Not Rambo though - he was badass).

Rambo

How sore you are the next day has almost no correlation to how good of a workout you had the day before. You did something your body wasn't used to, but that's about it - if you consistently feel like a husk of yourself the next day, something is definitely wrong.

It may not always look like it, but there should be be a point to every exercise you're doing - you should be moving towards a goal or checkpoint. I see so many fitness "workouts" that literally have no rhyme or reason, no attention to movement quality and quite frankly, are just poorly put together. They're just a bunch of stuff. It's certainly better than doing nothing at all, but that's not really a great benchmark, now is it?

And before you say it, no, I'm not talking about Crossfit, I'm actually wearing Crossfit shoes right now as I write this. This can apply to any kind of training - bodybuilding, powerlifting, Crossfit and yes, just general fitness and group exercise classes.

If someone has tight ankles, poor thoracic mobility, hip flexors of steel, and doesn't have a great idea of how to brace properly in their core (which is actually the case for a large number of people) it isn't a fantastic idea to get them to do burpees, pushups, jumping lunges, or even, gasp, planks, with little rest for time. At that point in their fitness "career" they just don't have the work capacity. Give it a few months of consistent practice, get their general conditioning (cardio) and strength up and then we can really get the ball rolling with some more exciting workouts.

I've been training people for seven years now, so I can tell you that when most people start it's not pretty. It doesn't take long to get competent but almost everyone starts out with poor movement skills and kinaesthetic awareness. But it doesn't matter whether you're starting out, or if you're experienced, you need to know proper movement patterns and what kind of range of motion you currently have. Not the people in your exercise class, not your friend, not what you saw on YouTube - you.

For example, I have terrible mobility in my right ankle. I've seen several people to try and get it fixed but I've never been able to get it to completely normal. This does affect my workouts. Running hills, pushing a sled, walking lunges and high bar squats are all awesome exercises, but I have to be careful not to overdo it because there will be consequences.

Don't think you have to devote all your time to this - it is very possible to work on increasing mobility and mechanics in a safe and progressive manner, and do it so in a way where you actually get a good workout. I completely understand because when I go to the gym I want to do cool stuff (relatively speaking), not a million mobility drills.

Quick point - don't get me started on people who yammer on and on about having to go "ass to grass" when squatting. Ideally, yes, everyone should be able to squat deep below parallel but unfortunately, we live in the real world where people are exactly how I described above.

Your average joe doesn't have the ankle or hip mobility, so when they try to get as low as possible, their feet turn out, the low back rounds, the pelvis tucks under and the whole thing just turns into hot garbage. Never mind adding a load and the "git r done" mentality to this - you're begging the universe to put you out of commission. And don't worry, it will oblige sooner or later.

Yelling 

While time has mellowed me...still not a fan

I'll be honest with you - 8 good reps of an exercise will be far more effective than 8 good reps, 6 shaky ones, and 6 horrendous ones.

I feel this is may seem obvious but I keep seeing it again and again. People need to do a workout that is appropriate for their level, not something you've seen on social media.  I like posting when I do cool things too (I think) - but I've been doing this for almost ten years. And I still screw up and hurt myself from time to time (or frequently - Editor). There's a fine line between bravery and stupidity, one that I've crossed more times than I'd like to admit, and more often than not, I've paid for it.

So to sum it up - do what you can do at that point in time. Do ten perfect squats to a high box rather than 20 horrible ones "ass 2 grass".

If you are interested in these ideas and are lucky enough to live in Edmonton area I've got some things planned so stay tuned for details and dates. If you're looking for a resource that you can use on your own, I highly recommend any of Kelly Starrett's books (especially Deskbound) or website (mobilitywod.com). His concepts and mobility work took my understanding of movement and training to the next level, so I will gladly give credit where credit is due.

Until then, have an awesome day and may the force be with you.

Tags:

Be Fit, Not Fat

The number one reason clients consult with us is to help them manage their weight and lets be honest, Canadians are getting unhealthier each and every year. Health-related disease such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disorders, and various forms of cancer are at an all-time high. Plus we must consider the effect of excess weight and unhealthy lifestyle on our joints and backs, not to mention the psychological effects on our self-esteem and confidence! At Infinite Fitness, we want you to focus on your fitness, not your fatness. What does that mean exactly?? Read More

Tags:

Do You Set Bad Resolutions?

I recently saw a social media post talking about bad new years resolutions. It got me thinking, what makes a new years resolution bad in the first place?? Is it that as a society we tend to set the same three to five resolutions every year? Or that it's more common for us to fail at our resolutions than it is to succeed??

I don't think that it's any of the above. The definition of resolution is
"a firm decision to do or not to do something."

If we go off that definition alone, then we are nailing the act of making a resolution. However synonymous  with resolution is plan and that's exactly what's missing from most resolutions, making them bad resolutions. The plan doesn't need to be elaborate or even extensive but there needs to be one. Not sure how to come up with the plan, here's an easy way to get started.
IMG_1549
Step One
Make your wish list. Here's where you are going to figure out what it is you actually want to accomplish this year. Grab a piece of paper and a pen, and yes, it must be written by hand, not typed on a keyboard. Why? Because the act of writing has been proven to help you remember things better, clarify your thoughts and even help you achieve your goals! If you're someone who wants to keep this list with you at all times, you're in luck - write it down, snap a picture of it with your phone and carry it with you always ;)

Alright, back to the wish list. Grab that paper and pen and set a timer for 5 minutes. For the next five minutes dream big. What do you want to accomplish this year?? There are no obstacles in your way, no responsibilities and nothing that says you can't. Let your thoughts flow freely and write down whatever comes to mind.

Step Two
Look back over your list and narrow it down to 1 -3 things that speak to you the most. If you're not sure how to narrow it done, write down your whys for dreaming up that goal in the first place. The goals that you can an attach a strong why to are most likely the goals that you should focus on.

Now grab another piece of paper for each goal that you chose to focus on. You'll need to focus on one at a time now so you'll need a little bit more time. Write down your first goal at the top of the sheet of paper as if you have already achieved it. For example, if I currently weight 190 lbs and my goal is to lose 30 pounds in 2016 at the top of my paper I would write: I weigh 160 lbs by December 31, 2016. I have succeed in making my goal specific and timely but there is still no action.
Set your timer for 10 minutes. Write down all the steps that you would need to do to achieve this goal, and I mean all of them. Using my example above, my list may look something like this:

- drink 3L of water a day
- no snacking after 8pm
- eat veggies with every meal
- resistance train 2-4 days a week
- cardio train 2-5 days a week
- core/mind body training 1-4 times a week
- find babysitter so that I can go to the gym
- talk to my boss about leaving 30 minutes early (cut my lunch by 30 minutes) so that I can make it to my fitness class twice a week
- wake up for the 5:30am class 2-3 times a week
- prepare lunches the night before so I don't have to do it in the morning
- meal plan every Friday night
- grocery shop every Saturday
- prep for the week on Sunday
- arrange a walking meeting with a colleague once a week (we discuss work and walk at the same time)
- talk to my personal trainer about my upcoming goals
- weigh in once a week or once every two weeks to track progress

Etc, etc.

Yours will be even more specific to you. Write down everything no matter how small or mundane the task seems! Repeat for goal 2 and 3 if you have them.

Step Three
Now the action truly begins. Go through your list and pick out two goals that you can focus on that day. Based on my list above, maybe I could schedule a meeting with my boss to discuss a flexible work day and I could track my water intake for the day. Then do them. It seems easy right? So easy that maybe you think you could tackle even more steps from that list. And maybe some days you can. But most days you won't. And that's ok. Why set yourself up for failure with too many to-do tasks?? Pick a couple and get them done. Be pleased with yourself that you moved closer to your goal.

If your action steps looks like it would take longer than 30 minutes to complete. Break down your action step. For example, if I simply listed meal plan, that might seem time consuming or overwhelming. But if I made my action step to chose two healthy recipes to try for dinner next week, I could likely do that in less than 10 minutes.

Work Towards Progress, Not Perfection
Small attainable action steps add up to big, mind blowing results. But not over night. Look over your action list at the start of every day. Chose where to focus. Need to revisit an action step, do it. Need to change your goals, do that as well. Remember this is your 2016 and your journey, you get to chose how you want it to go.

I'd love to hear what you have planned for 2016 and if this type of goal setting worked for you! Please feel free to leave me a comment below. 

Tags:

Fitness Fact - Halloween Tricks and Treats!

It's no secret that Halloween weekend usually means eating a year's worth of fun-sized candies and chocolate bars and drinking cocktails with friends at numerous Halloween parties. So, for this week's Fitness Fact Friday, we've chosen to ease your minds about ingesting some goodies and write a post in DEFENSE of cheat meals, cheat days, and, realistically, cheat weekends!

Cheat meals don't have to spell diet disaster. In fact, a well-structured cheat meal can actually help you surmount weight-loss plateaus. The secret, however, is to cheat smart.

As everyone knows, diets are a nightmare, and they don't work. It's always best to strive for a 90/10 ratio of healthy, lean meals to cheat meals, not only to maintain your sanity and happiness, but also because these cheat meals help reset hormones responsible for metabolism and insulin regulation, replenish glycogen for increased energy, and keep calorie-burning and fat-torching mechanisms high.

The science behind using cheat meals as a dietary tool revolves around the same hormones we discussed in the post about sleep: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin, a protein mainly produced by fat tissue, regulates appetite and energy balance in the body. It acts on the brain's hypothalamus to suppress food intake and stimulate the use of energy, or calories. Leptin plays a key role in regulating body weight and fat mass through its stimulating effect on the brain. In fact, studies have shown that within 24 hours of fasting, leptin levels decrease to 30 percent of their normal value.

Ghrelin, a peptide hormone mainly produced by the stomach, is an appetite stimulant that signals the release of growth hormone. Low-calorie diets and chronic exercise have been shown to result in increased ghrelin concentrations, which may lead to increasing food intake and body weight.

In addition to affecting appetite and energy use through leptin and ghrelin, sustained caloric-deficit diets also cause the body to attempt to conserve energy by decreasing levels of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4, which help regulate and maintain metabolism. Sustained low-carbohydrate diets deplete the body of glycogen stores and can leave you feeling sluggish and weak, which can negatively affect your training performance.

But keep in mind! This doesn't mean that gorging on 10 lbs of treats is beneficial to your fitness. The trick is to continue to keep track of cheat meals (schedule them if you can!) and to choose treats that are as nutritional as possible. Try choosing a few bites of dark chocolate instead of processed chocolates, or choose the protein-rich smoothie we posted earlier in the week instead of ice cream, etc. And if you just can't resist those adorable little candies and chocolates, remember that we're always here for you to burn off a treat or two ;)

Have a safe and spooky Halloween.

(written by Jenaye Lewis)ghosts&pumpkins

Tags: