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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Powerlifting or Lifting for Power?

pull3-1Last November, NIFS held its first annual powerlifting meet, which put some of the strongest individuals in the building on display. NIFS members and nonmembers came together to celebrate strength and fitness by performing three lifts with the hopes of reaching the highest total weight possible. The three lifts performed were the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Each competitor performed very well and the hard work each of them put in was evident.

But what is powerlifting? Sure, the deadlift, bench press, and squat give you an idea of what you do, but what is the true makeup? With all of the different varieties of resistance training and weightlifting around, powerlifting is sometimes a term that leaves people confused. Are you powerlifting or are you training for power?

If you are training for power, more than likely you are using explosive exercises that require a high degree of speed to complete. In a physics sense, power equals work divided by time. This means that a speed element is vital in the production of power. Olympic lifting utilizes this notion. The hang clean, power clean, snatch, and others require a high bar speed in order to develop the maximum amount of “power” possible. Without speed, the chances of success during these lifts are not as high.

If you compare the lifts that were performed during our powerlifting meet to the aforementioned Olympic lifts, the difference is obvious. The deadlifts, squats, and bench presses that were performed during our meet were not fast. In fact, the majority of them were slow. As long as the lift was completed with the proper form, it was a success. Speed did not play a role in the success or failure of each of those three lifts.

Although powerlifting does leave some a little confused about its definition, there is no doubt that the individuals who participate in them do possess the ability to generate a high amount of power. For these specific events, though, speed does not matter.

So the next time you set up your squat rack or load your bar for the deadlift, think: are you powerlifting, or are you training for power?

For more about the benefits of powerlifting, see this blog.

This blog was written by Alex Soller, NIFS Athletic Performance Coach. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.


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Topics: NIFS weightlifting strength powerlifting

Learn About Cardiovascular Health During American Heart Month

heart-1There is no better time to get your cardiovascular health on track than right now, during heart health month! February is American Heart Month, and a time that the CDC is trying to help us be aware that heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure are the number-one killers of men and women. Heart disease can be scary, and although not 100% preventable in all cases, it is reassuring to know that there are thing we can do to prevent it.

Who Is at Risk for Heart Disease?

Let’s start by taking a look at understanding who is at risk for heart disease and how it can play out in your life. First off, the number of preventable deaths has gone down in recent years, but is still at an alarming number. What most of us know is that if we have a close relative who has died from cardiovascular disease, it does put us at a higher risk for getting it later in life.

Here are some things maybe you didn’t know:

  • Men are more than twice as likely as women to die from preventable heart disease.
  • Health disparities based on geography also contribute to it (in previous years, deaths due to heart disease were highest in the south and lowest in the west).
  • Race can affect your risk level. Nearly half of African American men and women have some form of heart disease, and the American Heart Association also tells us that African Americans are more likely than any other ethnic group to have high blood pressure and to develop it earlier in life.

Many of these things can be prevented by healthier habits and management of conditions.

Preventing Heart Disease

The good news is that there are some things that we can do to help prevent heart disease. Being active and exercising on a regular basis is one of the biggest things that can help! Exercising for 30 minutes a day on most days of the week and maintaining a healthy weight makes the payoff even greater. You want to have a healthy mixture of both cardiovascular exercise as well as weight training and strength training to keep yourself in tip-top shape.

Another big contributor that can help is to not smoke or chew tobacco. Chemicals in tobacco damage the blood vessels of the heart, narrow the arteries, and could lead to a heart attack.

Eating a diet that is heart healthy is also important. Foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains help reduce your potential risk factor as well as keeping to a low-fat diet and eating good sources of protein like chicken and fish. Getting enough sleep and keeping a low level of stress is one of the most manageable factors in heart health.

And lastly, be sure to get regular health screenings to monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and sugar levels to steer clear of diabetes and other health issues.

Managing Cardiovascular Disease

FEAR NOT! If you already have cardiovascular disease, there are still things you can do to help slow down the progress of it. Though things may seem a bit more difficult after suffering a heart attack, coronary heart disease, a blocked artery, or other cardiovascular problem, it’s vital to your health to work on many of the things listed above. Even with heart disease, things like exercising on a regular basis, maintaining healthy eating habits, keeping a healthy body weight, not smoking or using tobacco, and watching those “numbers” at the doctor’s office can significantly aid in your heart health.

Be sure to consult your cardiologist before putting an exercise plan into place in case you have any restrictions, but get started on your new way of life ASAP! And most importantly, be aware of your condition, take time to learn about it so that you can manage it the best way possible.

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.


Topics: healthy habits heart disease cardiovascular

The Road to the NFL Goes Through Indy [Infographic]

Road-To-NFL-Goes-Through-Indy
Topics: Indianapolis physical test shuttle run BODPOD football Combine

Bringing BOSU to Life

BOSU-1BOSU. Does that stand for “both sides utilized,” or “both sides up”? To some of us, it’s a half-blue ball thing that makes our crunches doable; to others, if done right, it can make some exercises downright brutal. Whatever the case may be, the BOSU ball is an intriguing piece of exercise equipment that won’t soon be tossed in the Shake Weight pile. The ball, being flat on one side and domed on the other, allows its user not only a vast range of exercises, but also progressions and regressions that are easy to follow.

How to Use the BOSU

Exercise on the BOSU can be a little tricky when you are first starting out. We like to classify BOSU fitness in two categories: BOSU Exercises and Exercises on the BOSU. Exercises on the BOSU are any exercises you can do without a BOSU ball; just do that exercise on the ball (for example, squat and press, lunges, and pushups). BOSU exercises are any exercises that require a BOSU ball to complete (for example, Get down Get Up and Plank Jacks). Depending on fitness levels, you can make your exercise program easier or harder depending on where you start. The more BOSU exercises you have in a workout, the more challenging that workout will become.

bosu-exerciseWhen we take a look at progressions and regressions for BOSU exercises, there are several aspects we can touch on:

  • Balance: For balance, we look at stability points of contact with the ball or ground as our progression/regression tool. Take away a point of contact with the ground or ball and immediately whatever exercise you are doing becomes much more challenging (dead lift vs. single-leg dead lifts). If you add a point of contact with the ground, the exercise will become easier (such as using a dowel rod to help balance while standing on the BOSU with two feet).
  • Senses: The other factor we like to touch on includes your movement senses (sight, touch, and hearing). For an easy demonstration, stand on one foot. Then stand on one foot with your eyes shut. On a BOSU, this would be exponentially harder. Movement also challenges the senses. Try standing on a BOSU and looking around left and right or up and down. Again, this makes your normal exercises harder. Combinations of balance and sensory progressions make for some of the toughest BOSU exercises.

Your BOSU experience may come in the form of a fitness class (check out our BOSU class video), or you may do it solo in the privacy of your own home. Fitness professionals can help you determine what progressions and regressions are right for you. The BOSU may be out of your comfort zone, but there are tools to make it easier and to build your confidence. The BOSU ball is a good tool for your fitness toolbox; take a moment and see how it can make a difference for you.

Ready to try BOSU or another group fitness class at NIFS? Not a member? Take a class for free!

Request a FREE Class Pass

This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: fitness center group fitness workouts muscles challenge balance strength fitness trends

American Heart Month: Preventing and Living with Cardiovascular Disease

There is no better time to get your heart health on track than right now, during heart health month! February is American Heart Month, and a time that the CDC is trying to help us be aware that heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure are the number-one killers of men and women. Heart disease can be scary, and although not 100% preventable in all cases, it is reassuring to know that we can help ourselves to keep it away.

Who Is at Risk for Heart Disease? heart

Let’s start by taking a look at understanding who is at risk for heart disease and how it can play out in your life. First off, the number of preventable deaths has gone down in recent years, but is still at an alarming number. What most of us know is that if we have a close relative who has died from cardiovascular disease, it does put us at a higher risk for getting it later in life.

Here are some things maybe you didn’t know:

  • Men are more than twice as likely as women to die from preventable heart disease.
  • Health disparities based on geography also contribute to it (in previous years, deaths due to heart disease were highest in the south and lowest in the west). Race can affect your risk level.
  • Nearly half of African American men and women have some form of heart disease, and the American Heart Association also tells us that African Americans are more likely than any other ethnic group to have high blood pressure and to develop it earlier in life.

Many of these things can be prevented by healthier habits and management of conditions.

Preventing Heart Disease

The good news is that there are some things that we can do to help prevent heart disease. Being active and exercising on a regular basis is one of the biggest things that can help! Exercising for 30 minutes a day on most days of the week and maintaining a healthy weight makes the payoff even greater. You want to have a healthy mixture of both cardiovascular exercise as well as weight training and strength training to keep yourself in tip-top shape.

Another big contributor that can help is to not smoke or chew tobacco. Chemicals in tobacco damage the blood vessels of the heart, narrow the arteries, and could lead to a heart attack.

Eating a diet that is heart healthy is also important. Foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains help reduce your potential risk factor as well as keeping to a low-fat diet and eating good sources of protein like chicken and fish. Getting enough sleep and keeping a low level of stress is one of the most manageable factors in heart health.

And lastly, be sure to get regular health screenings to monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and sugar levels to steer clear of diabetes and other health issues.

Managing Cardiovascular Disease

FEAR NOT! If you already have cardiovascular disease, there are still things you can do to help slow down the progress of it. Though things may seem a bit more difficult after suffering a heart attack, coronary heart disease, a blocked artery, or other cardiovascular problem, it’s vital to your health to work on many of the things listed above. Even with heart disease, things like exercising on a regular basis, maintaining healthy eating habits, keeping a healthy body weight, not smoking or using tobacco, and watching those “numbers” at the doctor’s office can significantly aid in your heart health.

Be sure to consult your cardiologist before putting an exercise plan into place in case you have any restrictions, but get started on your new way of life ASAP! And most importantly, be aware of your condition, take time to learn about it so that you can manage it the best way possible.

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

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Topics: healthy habits heart attack disease prevention heart disease cardiovascular

Defining Fitness Goals Is Like Wrestling with Jell-O (Part 2 of 2)

carrotIn my earlier post, I talked about asking questions to get at true motivations behind wanting to be more fit. 

The answers to those questions will fall into four broad categories: appearance, performance, feel or move better, and major health issues.

Goal: Looking Better

Appearance is the most common and strongest of all of the motivators. One of my Russian coaches thought of it as frivolous. He referred to it as “wanting to look better naked in front of a mirror,” but yet its power can never be underestimated. Bodybuilding strategies are the most common route, but the newer athletic-inspired approaches to training will also produce that desired appearance—with the added benefit of a more functional strength for daily life activities.

Goal: Performance

Performance means strength and conditioning for a purpose. That purpose may be for sports, military, police, fire, etc. However, in the general public, Special Ops–inspired training and functional training have become very popular in the belief that this type of training will help them reach higher levels of both strength and conditioning, and can be found in various programs like Boot Camps, CrossFit, and so on. Sport Performance gyms have also grown exponentially across the country in the last decade as parents invest in whatever it takes to improve their children’s athletic careers.

Goal: Feeling Better

Feeling better becomes the primary goal when the barnacles of aging reach critical mass. The idea of chasing body beautiful and seriously improving athletic performance fade as the need to “just keep moving comfortably in one’s body” dominates awareness. Wear and tear of the joints (arthritis), loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia), and serious body fat increases (caused by the great American diet combined with little activity) lead to a whole host of life-quality issues that exercise and diet can greatly improve.

Goal: Alleviating Major Health Issues

Major health issues require their own individual approaches to strength and conditioning. Experienced and well-educated experts know the correct approaches for their area of expertise, and the uninformed should not guess at them. Heart disease, MS, COPD, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and brain damage, for example, are very serious issues but life quality can be improved with the right guidance and proper effort.

When There Is More Than One Issue

As complex as individuals can be, you may find their situation to be a combination of the above categories, and therefore they must be ranked in order of importance. Training is also a process along a timeline, so there must be flexibility and the willingness to adjust the program as training progresses.

The “how” to train will be born within the answer to “why” someone is seeking fitness. For any real success, the “why” question must be answered honestly. As stated above (and worth repeating), a technically correct workout could be a total waste of time, money, effort, and perhaps could even be dangerous if the training program doesn’t match the individual’s needs and motivation.

One last comment regarding this issue. There have been many attempts throughout the years to create a universal definition of fitness, design workout programs to address each fitness component of that definition, and then sell the concept that if one truly wanted to be fit (by their definition), one would have to train according to their program. I am sure these attempts started out to be sincere efforts to make Jell-O solid, but morphed into profit-producing ventures with corresponding business agendas (see this post with more philosophy on separating good fitness and nutrition advice from bad).

Please remember, the Fitness Holy Grail is a myth. There is no one perfect workout and the definition of fitness is relative to who is asking and why. I suppose that in some situations that wrestling in Jell-O could be fun, but wrestling with Jell-O is not. First establish your goals and then clearly understand your motives. The proper training program will evolve as a natural result of that process.

This blog was written by Rick Huse, NIFS Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

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Topics: motivation goal setting functional training personal training fitness trends goals

Water: The Free, Delicious Drink You’re Not Getting Enough Of

waterWater is everywhere but where you need it: inside your body. Do you ever check to see how much water you actually consume a day? How much do you need? The old adage “8 times 8 ounces a day” (or 64 total ounces) is off. Just like everything we know about different body types and metabolism, the amount of water each of us needs will vary. It makes sense that in hot, humid conditions you will sweat more, thus needing more hydration. But do you realize that your hydration levels will dry up in the dry, cold weather of winter, too?

To get a good idea of how much water you need, take your body weight and try to consume that many ounces of water a day. Yes you can count the coffee and tea you drink, but remember that the caffeine will cause you to lose more water. You may be saying, “YIKES, that’s a lot!” But look at the questions below. If you answer yes to one or more, you need to be paying more attention to the amount you take in.

1. Do you talk a lot during your day?

That takes hydration. Since your brain is about 75 percent water, you need adequate water to fully function.

2. Are you stuck in a weight-loss plateau or have found you cannot budge the scales?

Try drinking more water to get your body functioning smoothly, breaking down fat for energy after your tough interval workout, and helping to rebuild the muscles you broke down. This beats your dehydrated body slowing your metabolism and making weight-loss more frustrating than ever.

3. Do you get hungry soon after eating?

It could be hydration issues (it could also be a gluten crash, but we’ll leave that for another day). As you eat protein-rich foods, your body needs more water to break down the protein, so be sure to add more water as you add more protein to your diet.

4. Do you get headaches after a long, stressful, busy day?

Try drinking water to help alleviate your pain. This may be your body telling you that you are dehydrated. See this article about a study that shows how your brain is much more efficient when you drink enough water.

***

As you increase your water consumption, of course, you will need to make numerous trips to the restroom, but your body will realize you are doing a good deed for it and adapt. That is more proof of what marvelous machines our bodies are.

You can see what water can do for you to enhance your body’s efficiency and smooth running. If you are looking to slim down, improve both brain and body performance, and help ward off disease and bugs, add more water to your day.

This blog was written by Kris Simpson, NIFS Small Group and Personal Trainer. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

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Topics: nutrition weight loss hydration water

Defining Fitness Goals Is Like Wrestling with Jell-O (Part 1 of 2)

jelloThe concept of defining fitness seems simple at first glance, but like Jell-O®, the definition of fitness appears solid on the surface until you grab at it and realize that impression was wrong. Both will get messy while they ooze in all directions.

Fitness is truly in the eye of the beholder—or more correctly, in the vision of the motivating ego. Something about one’s current status is unacceptable and the ego wants it changed. This fitness change generally becomes a quest to be bigger, faster, stronger, or prettier. Basic movement problems and health issues are other major driving forces to seek improved fitness.

What Is Your Goal?

Many times, when I ask clients about what they expect to get from their investment of time, money, and sweat in exercise, I usually get, “I want to be more fit, of course,” which to them is the universal hall pass for answering all fitness questions. They’re thinking, “After all, everyone knows what it means to be fit. Don’t they?” Well, they don’t and that’s the problem. Are we talking about serious weight loss, bodybuilding and shaping for esthetics, training for athletic and job performance, correcting serious medical issues or movement deficiencies, etc.?

Strategies for each goal are very different. A “good” technical workout may very well be the “wrong” workout for a particular goal because of individual needs. Therefore, before any program can be developed, everyone must agree on what exactly it means to be more fit and what goals they are try to reach. Without a target, it is easy to wander around aimlessly in the forest of fitness options with a bloody forehead from banging into the many workout trees.

All-You-Can-Eat Fitness Can Lead to Gluttony

A trainer is also responsible for providing a more expansive view of exercise and fitness, which is generally beyond the fitness education and experience of most of their clients. This task is much like a waiter explaining a menu to a new restaurant patron. Although this step is necessary to arrive at the best program design, this additional client education can create another problem called the all-you-can-eat fitness syndrome.

As in the famous scene of the enormous man in the restaurant in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, when presented with the menu, he reads it very carefully, hands it back to the waiter, and says, “Yes.” When people become more aware of what fitness can provide, they want it all. But the body cannot do it all, at least not equally as well and certainly not all at once. If you remember the scene, the patron did eat the entire menu worth of food, but when offered a small after-dinner wafer, he exploded. Fitness gluttony has a price, as well, which usually comes in the form of poor results and, of course, the higher risk of dreaded injuries.

What Do You Really Want?

Whether you are a trainer responsible for the health, fitness, and safety of your client or an individual fitness enthusiast who has taken on the arduous task of training yourself, the meaning of fitness for that individual and for that moment in time must be clearly defined before an appropriate fitness program can be developed. The fastest shortcut to this meaningful foundation is by going directly to what is truly motivating the desire for change, the ego.

It is a rather simple process. Keep asking the following question until you arrive at the real answer: “What do you really want to get out of your investment of time, money, and sweat in exercise?

However, there are two rules: The answer cannot be, “I want to be more fit,” and each answer is followed by the question “why?” until a satisfactory answer is reached. This “why” will reveal what is actually motivating the fitness quest and will also serve as the motor to keep driving the quest when progress slows or when there are setbacks. The combination of “what” and “why” forms a strong foundation for developing an effective exercise program.

In my next post, I'll talk about the categories that the answers fall into, and how to start thinking about the right training program for each goal.

This blog was written by Rick Huse, NIFS Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

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Topics: motivation goal setting functional training personal training fitness trends goals