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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Effective Grip Strength Training Solutions

ThinkstockPhotos-472123412.jpgGrip strength is quite a conundrum in the fitness industry. It is so often called upon during training, yet grip-strength training itself can be overlooked.

Many people don’t even think to train grip strength, or they don’t think that grip training will benefit them. Have you ever had trouble opening a jar or a can? Have you ever dropped a bag of groceries while trying to carry in every single bag from your car (like I do every Saturday)? Now do you think grip training might benefit you?

How Can a Better Grip Help You?

Any activity that involves holding something is going to require grip strength to some degree. Here are a few activities that may or may not come to mind when you think grip strength.

  • Golfing: When playing golf, every shot you take requires you to hold a club. When holding the club, it pays to have a tight grip. Why? When you hit the ball, there is a transfer of energy from your hands to the club, and from the club to the ball. To get all of the energy from your hands to the club and the ball, you need to allow for as little movement of the club as possible when striking the ball. Grip strength is required to minimize the movement of the club upon striking the ball.
  • Carrying a suitcase: Whenever you carry anything, you need grip strength. This usually isn’t a concern when the item you are carrying is light, such as a book or a cup. However, an item like a jam-packed suitcase can really test your grip when you are running through the airport to catch your plane. And if you work grip strength exercises into your workout routine, you can catch that plane and make it to family Christmas on time!
  • Picking up a heavy object: This one seems like common sense, right? That’s because it is. When lifting a heavy object, such as a piece of furniture, grip strength is what keeps that object from crashing to the ground. You may have very strong legs, arms, and back, but if your grip is too weak to hold the object, you can’t move it!
Training Your Grip

So how can you train your grip to be stronger and have more endurance? There are many different ways, and here are a few (for more exercises, see this article):

  • Using a thicker bar: A larger object is harder to hold onto than a smaller object. Therefore, a thicker barbell will be harder to hold onto than a thinner barbell. You can incorporate a thicker bar into your normal weightlifting routine by substituting it into every exercise you would normally do with a regular bar. Don’t have access to a thick bar? You can create a thicker bar. All you need is a couple of towels. Just wrap them around the bar to the thickness you desire, and you’re ready to go! (CAUTION: Be careful and use a spotter when weightlifting. A new technique means you will need to take time to get used to it.)
  • Plate pinches and flips: If you’re lucky, your gym will have bumper weight plates (and yes, we have plenty here at the NIFS Fitness Center!). These work great for either plate pinches or flips. In a plate pinch, you pick up a bumper plate between your thumb and your other four fingers, and you either stand still to go for time, or you can walk with them and try to go for distance. In a plate flip, you grip the plate in the same way as you would for a pinch, and you do a half flip, catching the side of the plate that was just facing the ground. (Again, use caution when doing these exercises. These plates can be heavy, and if the exercise is done incorrectly, somebody could get hurt.)
  • Dead hangs: For this, all you need is a pull-up bar. From a pull-up position, just hang freely from the bar for as long as you can. This will test your grip strength endurance, which is very functional for things like carries and holds.
Grip strength has been a crucial part of my recent training. I like lifting heavy weights, so it was frustrating for me when my grip strength was my limiting factor on lifts such as the deadlift. I have incorporated a few of these techniques, and after a couple months I saw progress. Weights that used to slip from my hands felt much more manageable in several different lifts that involved gripping and pulling. If you don’t believe me, try these for yourself! Give it a little bit of time; soon enough, your grip will be stronger and your days of struggling to open that pickle jar will be over.

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LIFT_logo_white.jpgNIFS introduces a new Lifting program in 2016! LIFT is for all levels wanting to learn proper Powerlifting and Olympic lifting techniques. Our expert trainer will teach fundamentals, evaluate movements and help build a customized training program around your lifting goals. If you would like more information contact Aaron at [email protected]

This blog was written by Aaron Combs, NSCA CSCS and Health/Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.


Topics: NIFS fitness center weightlifting golf grip strength

Why I Have a Passion for PiYo Fitness

piyo.jpgOkay, so you may have been hearing the word “PiYo®” circulating these last few months within the world of group fitness. For those of you who feel like you do not completely know what it means or what the class entails, fear not. I guarantee you are not the only one with questions, and as a certified PiYo instructor, I would love to share a few reasons why I teach it, and the benefits that can come from practicing it.

PiYo® is a Beachbody program created by celebrity fitness trainer Chalene Johnson (who is also the creator of TurboFire, Turbo Kick, etc.). She originally created the PiYo® class because she wanted a workout that would provide results without straining your body. She loved the benefits of Pilates and yoga but got bored with the static moves in yoga and the microscopic movements in Pilates. So essentially, the class is set to music, combining moves from both techniques and making them dynamic to give participants an enjoyable yet challenging class that works on not only body strength, but also balance and flexibility. Let’s look a little more deeply into those features.

Bodyweight Strength

PiYo_LOGO_Gray_M.jpgSurprisingly, for many of us (myself included), just using our own bodyweight for certain exercises can be challenging enough. From moves like triceps pushups, to lunges, to side planks, 140+ pounds begins to feel really heavy really quick! PiYo® takes many of these simple-to-learn yet challenging moves and combines them with aspects such as “time under tension” and dynamic pulses to keep the body moving the whole time.

Each song also has its own focus; the workout begins with a heat-building track to wake up the body and get blood flowing to the muscles, then moves into a lower-body and power track. Following those, we seamlessly transition the second half of the class into a yoga flow, and finish with a core and stretching/strength track to leave you feeling worked and refreshed.

Balance

I want to take this opportunity to emphasize that balance does matter! It’s amazing how quickly we lose balance over time if we do not continue to develop it. Think about how many times you shift your weight from one side to the other; from simply walking, to going up and down flights of stairs, to catching yourself when you trip, to leaning backward or forward to grab something off the floor. For the younger generation it might seem quite simple, but I promise you, in 30 years, if you never trained in a split stance or single-leg pattern, just standing on one leg for 30 seconds can turn into one of the most difficult and frustrating things you have done.

Flexibility

As a former dancer, this aspect is one of my personal favorites. If you want to deepen your flexibility in your hips and hamstrings, and focus on finding space within those areas to stretch, PiYo® is wonderful for this, especially the flow section, which focuses on this. Even if you have never been very flexible, and simply just want to work on being comfortable when you reach to tie your shoes, or being able to twist and open the t-spine to improve your posture, PiYo® has something to offer for that as well. Mobility work is so important in performance, as we age, and is essential to maintaining and improving quality of life.

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If you are wondering whether you could keep up in a PiYo® class or if you could do it, you can! The best part of PiYo® is that it’s your workout! I run the class and have the moves and choreography, but it’s your workout and you are more than welcome to take it at your own pace. That includes modifications; I make sure to offer plenty of modifications to assist and advance you as you go along, allowing you to have a suitable class that will not only challenge you, but also be safe for you to participate in. Take a look at NIFS group fitness schedule and:

Try a group fitness class for free

This blog was written by Rebecca Newbrough, Lifestyle Program Coordinator and Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness yoga balance Pilates stretching core strength bodyweight Beachbody

Five Powerlifting Pieces to the Power Clean Puzzle

The NIFS Barbell Club is slated to start in the coming week. This will be a chance for members to learn about individual Olympic and powerlifting movements that they have experience with or may be trying for the first time. Olympic (Oly, ah-LEE) and powerlifting have become increasingly popular over recent years and will continue to grow, considering their application to functional training and athletic movement.

deadlift-2new.jpgYou may already be preparing to attend barbell club or could already be an active participant in LIFT, our small group training setting for Olympic and powerlifting. But if the group setting is not for you, I’m going to give you a solid progression that will allow you to develop a strong power clean with proper technique. The following movements can be a starting point for beginners or experienced lifters looking to get a fresh perspective on their current programs.

When I venture into any Olympic or powerlifting movements with a client or athlete, the most important factor is that their body be able to perform the movement that I am asking them to do. I get a good idea of this by using the Functional Movement Screening (FMS) and a few lower-intensity exercises (kettlebell swing, goblet squat, ground-based plyometrics, etc.) that utilize similar movement patterns to those that the Oly or powerlifts entail. If an individual is not able to perform these movements correctly or their FMS score contraindicates their participation in them, I would focus on other areas in order to better prepare that individual for these lifts. Once I believe someone is fully capable of performing the lifts (in this case with regard to the power clean progression), I could start them on the progression.

1. The Deadlift 

The first (and arguably most important, in my opinion) step in this progression would be to teach proper hip-hinge technique for a deadlift. This is the foundation of the majority of the Oly movements and needs to be perfected in order to reach the fullest potential in subsequent lifts. Learning this movement could take as little as a couple weeks, but will likely take more like 4 to 6 weeks depending on your current abilities. Take your time; it will be worth it!

Points of Emphasis:

  1. Keep your back flat.
  2. Keep the bar close to your body.
  3. Use a Hook or Pronated grip (which has a better translation to Olympic movements).
  4. Start by pulling slowly from the ground; velocity will be added later.
Recommended training time frame: 4 to 6 weeks (depending on ability level)

2. The Power Shrug

Once you have perfected the deadlift, you can implement the next movement. From the deadlift position, I usually transition to a power shrug. The power shrug is just what it sounds like, a shrug with more speed than normal. The power shrug allows for the client or athlete to feel what it is like to achieve triple extension after the deadlift. It begins with a deadlift to an RDL position (with the bar at or just below the knees). Once the RDL position is achieved, the hips are driven through to generate the upward momentum to the bar. The client simultaneously shrugs his or her shoulders toward their ears to finish the movement.

Steps to Achieve:

  1. Start with a deadlift to the RDL position.
  2. Once the RDL position is met, drive the hips through.
  3. Finish with shoulders shrugged toward the ears and on the tiptoes.
Recommended training time frame: 3 to 4 weeks

3.The Hang Pull

The next step in my progression would be to go into a hang pull. This movement is more of a “top-down” movement versus a “bottoms-up” movement when compared to the deadlift and the power shrug. The deadlift and power shrug start from the ground and move upward from there. In contrast, the hang pull starts from a standing straight up position. The ultimate goal for all of the movements will be to get to the powerful RDL position. The hang pull involves lowering the bar to the knees and then driving the hips through to generate an explosive upright rowing motion. You may integrate the shrug that you have learned in progression #2 in order to produce more of that upward drive. The movement finishes with the client coming down from their toes after the pulling motion.

Steps to Achieve:

  1. Stand up straight.
  2. Lower the bar down the legs in a hip-hinge motion.
  3. Once RDL is achieved, drive the hips through, shrug, and row.
  4. Finish on tiptoes.
Recommended training time frame: 2 to 3 weeks

4. The Hang Clean

Now the fun begins. Through the first three steps you’ve learned to properly hip hinge and how to achieve triple extension through the hips, knees, and ankles. You’ve learned to shrug and pull from steps 2 and 3. If done properly, step 4 (the Hang Clean) should be a piece of cake. The hang clean builds off of the hang pull by adding the firing of the elbows under and through the bar to achieve a front rack position with the barbell positioned across the shoulders. If you have been diligent through steps 1 to 3, this should not be an issue. The biggest problem I see with individuals in this stage would be a lack of mobility through the wrists, triceps, and shoulders. Timing is everything with these lifts, so once you know you are doing them correctly, practice, practice, practice. The less your mind has to think about any part of this movement, the more success you will see.

Steps to Achieve:

  1. Perform steps 1 to 4 for the Hang Pull.
  2. Slightly sink the hips.
  3. Pull and fire the elbows under the bar.
  4. Finish with the bar racked across the shoulders.
Recommended training time frame: 4 to 6 weeks

5. The Power Clean

You have made it this far; it’s time to seal the deal! The final progression for the power clean would be, well, the power clean. During this progression, your job will be to assemble all of the pieces of the power clean puzzle from steps 1 to 5. This movement will start with the deadlift to the RDL position, continue with a big shrug and pull, fire the elbows, and sink beneath the bar. It is essentially step #4, but we are pulling from the floor.

Sounds simple, right? Not exactly. This will introduce a whole separate challenge with regard to timing, but as always, your timing will get better with practice. Once you feel comfortable pulling from the ground and catching the bar in the upright/hips loaded position, catching into a front squat will be next (but you should perfect this first).

Steps to Achieve:

  1. Deadlift to RDL position.
  2. Drive hips through.
  3. Shrug shoulders and pull upward: get triple extension!
  4. Sink and fire elbows beneath the bar.
  5. Catch and rack the bar across the shoulders.
Recommended training time frame: 4 to 6 weeks

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Olympic and powerlifting movements are definitely the king of the fitness world jungle. They should be done with extreme attention to detail due to the high velocities of the bars (Oly lifting) and extreme weights being used (powerlifting). That doesn’t mean you need to be a fitness expert to perform them; just learn how to do them correctly. Although these pieces to the power clean puzzle lead you in the right direction, it is always beneficial to have another set of eyes on you to make sure that everything is in working order. Realize that it takes a while for your body to adapt and grasp these movement concepts, especially if you are new to this type of lifting. Remember, be patient and a stickler on details; it will pay off in the long run!

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NIFS New Barbell Club is a FREE lifting club open to all members! Learn safe and effective weightlifting techniques and have fun lifting in a club atmosphere! For times and dates click here.

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 group training weight lifting powerlifting functional movement

NIFS Crucial Conversations: I Took My Life Back (Part I)

Katie_Before_2.jpgThere comes a time when a story of struggle, strife, and success must be shared to remind others that you are never alone in your battle, and that achievement and happiness are closer than you may think. Katie Feltman has such a story.

I have had the privilege to work with Katie for many years now, and I can remember the first conversation we had out in the fitness center about where she was at the time, where she wanted to go, and how we could work together to get there. I felt her struggle instantly, but I also felt a great deal of determination, evident from the progress she had made before coming to see me. She wasn’t going to take this battle lying down anymore!

I asked Katie to talk about her journey with me so that I could share it with those who may be looking for that spark, that notion that nothing is impossible, but I’Mpossible! Join me in walking in Katie’s shoes as she shares some of her journey with us.

Conversation with Katie, Part I:

Tony: So, take me back about four years and tell me what was going on with you at that time.

Katie: I was living a very different life. A recent doctor’s visit had revealed I weighed 286 pounds, I was pre-diabetic, I had high blood pressure, my LDL cholesterol was high, and I had just found out I had to wear a Holter monitor to diagnose heart arrhythmias I was having. I had lower back pain from herniated discs that required an unhealthy amount of daily Advil to keep at bay (and along with my poor eating habits had created a wicked case of acid reflux that ultimately became an ulcer) and I slept poorly. For 37 years of age, I wasn’t doing okay. I was unhappy.

Tony: What were some of the major struggles you were dealing with?

Katie: Like most people, I had my share of stress sources; nothing extreme or unusual, but I had an ill mother, and a job that looking back now I realized had reached a point that made me miserable. But generally I had nothing going on outside of me that should have triggered the kind of profound lack of self-care I was engaging in on a regular basis.

“I coped with my stress by pushing my feelings inward and washing it all down with sugary processed foods and wine. I made no time to take care of myself.”

Katie_Before_4.jpgYou’d think with the scary words the doctor was saying I would have walked out of there that day and taken charge of things right then. But change isn’t like that—not for me, at least. I was frustrated with how I felt, and I know this will sound superficial but it is true: I hated how I looked, which I didn’t realize then but now know was key to my struggle. Self-hate = no self care, and that was how I was living my life. I was living life in a muted capacity, and I lacked the motivation to do something about it—any of it.

Tony: Can you describe some of what you were feeling at that time?

Katie: I was demoralized and frustrated at what seemed like an impossible and insurmountable task—it was so daunting. Getting healthy, changing how I lived, and peeling pounds off. I wanted instant results from modest change. I’m an extrovert, and my social life at the time revolved heavily around eating out, going to bars, and generally going places where food and booze were the main reasons for being there multiple times per week. But there was a nagging voice in there that knew there was more out there for me—I just wanted to feel better, feel happy most of the time, cope better with the smaller, mundane stresses as well as major things, and sleep better.

Tony: How did these struggles and frustrations affect your life? What did you feel like before you decided to take your life back?

Katie: I felt unhappy, ashamed, and not in control of my own life, and generally was in a terrible place emotionally and physically. And if it hasn’t been stated clearly enough before, I felt like crap pretty much all the time and it wasn’t just physical—it was mental, too. I was in a fog much of the time. I didn’t handle even small stresses well, much less bigger things. I was just floating along with life rather than living the life I really wanted to live.

“I was just floating along with life rather than living the life I really wanted to live.”

READ PART 2 of this amazing story and learn what it took for Katie to make the critical changes that resulted in her being able to take her life back and overcome obesity and a lack of healthy habits and see measurable weight loss.*

*Weight loss claims and/or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

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Topics: NIFS healthy habits fitness center weight loss attitude diabetes personal training heart disease Crucial Conversations obesity making changes

NIFS Crucial Conversations: I Took My Life Back (Part 2)

What does it take for someone to make the critical changes in their life to regain control and live the life they have always wanted to live? This is one question Katie and I tackle in part 2 of Katie’s journey to health, wellness, and happiness.

Katie_After_3.jpgWhen I last left you in part 1, we learned a great deal about where Katie has been, her struggles, her mindset, and her life just a few short years ago. Katie painted a pretty good picture of what she was dealing with every day. Now let’s see what Katie did about it! Let’s learn about what it takes to take a life back.

Conversation with Katie, Part 2

“Among the hundred small changes you have to make, it adds up to Big Change.”

Tony: When was the moment you knew something was different and there was a transformation happening?

Katie: Probably about six months into working with my GT group was when the change became real to me—the “a-ha” moment. I had quit my job and found one that was a much better fit with my personal and professional goals. Once I had the structure and support of group training, I was making better choices for myself in all aspects of my life—nutrition, habits, activities, exercise. I was getting positive reinforcement weekly from my coach and group. I could see it and feel it. Somewhere in there, among the hundred small changes you have to make, it adds up to Big Change, and I realized that’s where it happens.

Tony: What were some of the things that made the biggest impact in your change process?

Katie: Looking back now, I see several things in the GT program that made a major impact for me:

  • Katie_After_2.jpgThe work we do helped me understand that change is incremental. For me, the biggest change was realizing I had to make changes in my habits, and change is something you have to chip away at every. Single. Day. Knowing that there will be setbacks, and things won’t happen overnight. And that’s why I don’t set New Year’s resolutions. Sure, I set short- and long-term goals with my coach and myself, but I don’t set one giant resolution on January 1. Every day is a resolution.
  • Accountability and support in the group is HUGE for me. HUGE. One of my GT pals calls us her “gym family.” It might sound dorky, but it’s true. We listen. We support. We encourage. We build each other up. We help each other when things are tough. We are there to support each other when we need a hand. We are a team. And while no one in group is food-policing me, I am in-my-head accountable to my team and coach.
  • The overall Group Training program at NIFS and all it offers is unique. I am not aware of any program like this at any other gym. GT provides you with a structure, a framework, ongoing personal attention to structure a program that helps achieve your specific goals, guidance, and a group of like-minded people to support you.
  • Coach Tony gave me the help I needed with behavior change. The GT program allows me the personalized time with Tony to dig into my behaviors, and figure out what I need to do to change to more positive behaviors. I needed to learn how to deal with hard things and be successful at doing that so I could apply those in life. Coach Tony is an expert on movement, but he fundamentally understands the behavior element that is so important for fitness professionals working with clients—this is about not just showing up to work out a few times a week. It’s about, as he always says, “getting right in the head”—healthy body and healthy mind. And he told me this on day one after a depressing BOD POD®—that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Exercise is not a punishment. There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone, and with the personal attention I get from my NIFS coaches, I was able to figure out what I did need. They know to push me when I need it.
  • I needed accountability without being nagged. I’ve always loved being part of a team. So I needed a group of people that I knew could support me when I was having to make tough decisions about letting other things go in my life. I needed people who would cheer for me whether or not I could do something, to rebuild my confidence. I needed a group of people to make working out fun and make me laugh! Who looks forward to going to the gym? I do. Why? My GT friends.
  • This is what I call a “whole-person” approach to fitness. GT does not bring people in and put us through crazy hour-long workouts five days a week. Yes they are hard, but functional movement, foam rolling, and correctives are as important as progressing on a bench press or doing 50 burpees. We have access to the kind of expertise with the NIFS trainers, Functional Movement Screens, and other tools to keep us healthy.

“Every day is a resolution.”

Tony: What are some of your biggest accomplishments since deciding to make a change? Brag for me a little!

Katie: It’s difficult for me to think about the scared person I was who entered my first GT session nearly three years ago. I was intimidated—but not for long. I only had to spend a few minutes with the trainers and group to feel welcome and know I would be encouraged, even though I couldn’t run a mile then, or hold a plank from my feet. Since starting GT I have:

Katie_After_1.jpgKatie_Before_4.jpg

  • I lost more than 60 pounds (more than 100 since I started my journey)*.
  • Resolved my back-pain issues—where traditional medicine and even PT to a degree failed after my herniated discs, GT did what I needed from a movement, strength, and weight-loss standpoint to really bring this debilitating problem to a resolution*.
  • Climbed a mountain.
  • Continue to make forward progress on my FM screening.
  • Finished two Tough Mudders (both with fellow GTers) and ridden the Hilly Hundred twice.
  • Conquered fears—I had and still have a little bit of a jumping fear, but my vertical and broad jumps continue to get better. There were so many movements I was unable to do three years ago. When I do them now, my GT teammates and Coach Tony recognize this and cheer me on.
  • I’m stronger! I continue to be able to lift heavier weight on bench press and leg press.
  • Conquered my fear of running by doing the NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program.
  • Built and installed a flagstone patio on my own last summer. I hauled more than 3 tons of rocks. I had some help moving them, but did most of it on my own. It’s not about the patio—it’s about having the confidence and ability to do it! 

Tony: How is your life different now?

Katie: I am 41 but I feel better than I ever have mentally and physically. Physically, I have energy! My metabolic issues are no longer issues. My asthma is better. A recent doctor’s visit revealed excellent blood pressure, my LDL cholesterol is 47 and HDL is 87, and my resting heart rate is around 45 to 48*. I sleep well. I have the energy to live a full life—I’ve always had a full life, but before I was in survival mode. Now I have the energy to live my full life! To not just get through each day, but live each day—and do things I had always wanted to do but lacked the confidence or physical ability to do them. I get up everyday and practice self care, because that makes me a better friend, sister, dog mom, employee, and general citizen of the world. I feel like a fog has lifted and I live every day with intent. I had some significant losses in 2014, including the passing of my mother, and I had the tools and mental toughness to cope with them while maintaining my healthy habits. Finally, I have confidence. I am so grateful for all the support I get from Tony, Mike, and my fellow GTers.

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I am so very proud of Katie for the success she has worked so hard for, and applaud her willingness to share her story in hopes of creating change in others who may be as lost as she once was. Inspiration is Katie’s middle name, and she takes her role as a “fitness ambassador” very seriously and is a leader of the Small Group Training groups she speaks so highly about. No matter the circumstances, change is possible, and you never have to do it alone.

*Weight loss claims and/or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

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GT-logo-revised.jpgInterested in trying Small Group Training? Contact Tony today to attend a free session!

This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: goal setting resolutions group training functional training BODPOD obesity

Morning Exercise Benefits: Increased Metabolism and More?

ThinkstockPhotos-78716025.jpgOkay, so maybe you’re not a morning person, and would much rather remain cozy in your queen-sized bed for several hours after waking up before finally finding the energy and motivation to make your way to the gym during the middle of the day. Maybe you’re the type of person who likes to take care of your priorities first during the day, and then only if left with enough time sneak in a late-afternoon or nighttime workout before ending your day.

Don’t get me wrong; if you are either of these individuals, I applaud you in every way for finding some time in your day to work out. However, a number of studies have researched the benefits of working out in the morning compared to working out midday or at night. Below I shine some light on those benefits that might encourage your brain and body to transition into working out at the crack of dawn.

The Question of Increased Metabolism

I’m sure a majority of us have heard at some point in our life that working out in the morning helps to boost our metabolism. Sure we can take a leap of faith and believe this theory to be true based on popular belief, but let’s actually take a look at the physiology side of things and expose whether this is true.

Metabolism is process by which your body converts the food you eat into energy. So in simple terms, the higher your metabolism is, the more calories you burn on a daily basis. Obviously, the more active you are during your workouts, the more calories you are going to burn. It is also important to remember that even if you are working out in the morning, your metabolism will not increase if you do not put forward the proper effort during your workout.

So as you might have just guessed, if you’re not a person who is full of energy and motivation during the morning hours, your workout performance may be hindered by these factors alone, which will limit your morning metabolism increase. Therefore, it is important to experiment with workout timing to see which time of the day will benefit you the most. So does working out in the morning help to increase your metabolism? Well, the answer is, “it depends on the individual.”

On the flip side, if you are a person who doesn’t mind working out in the morning, there are many reasons why this can help spike your metabolism. One of the first biological reasons working out in the morning can be effective is the increased levels of testosterone (especially in males) that happen first thing when you wake up. Overnight our bodies begin to increase their testosterone production. Because of this, our testosterone levels are highest upon awakening. As you may or may not know, testosterone is the hormone that promotes muscle growth. The more testosterone we have in our bodies while working out, the more efficient our bodies will be at muscle production. Taking advantage of this morning boost of testosterone can help build muscle more efficiently.

*Fact of the Day: For every 1 lb. of muscle you gain, your body will burn an extra 6 to 10 calories per day at rest. Gain 10 lbs. of muscle and you could be burning an extra 100 calories while at rest (Source: BuiltLean).

More Reasons to Work Out Early

Here are some additional reasons why you may want to work out in the morning:

  • Easier to follow high-volume training systems: Working out in the morning before gym peak hours makes it easier for you to perform supersets/trisets without having to wait for the next guy to get done with his set on the machine you need.
  • Leaves time for other priorities: Now that your workout is done and over with first thing in the morning, you have the rest of your day to complete other tasks.
  • Increased energy levels during the day: Exercise has been proven to increase energy levels and focus throughout the day. By working out first thing in the morning, you are getting a head start on your day.
  • You’ll be less likely to skip your workout: It can be easy to get distracted at various points of the day that might sabotage your workout (less motivation, fatigue, overdue school work). By working out first thing in the morning, when your mind has very few things to concentrate on just yet, you will be less likely to skip your workout later.

When trying to stick with an exercise routine that will get you great results, it’s not always about working harder. In fact, sometimes it’s more about working efficiently. Finding the optimal time for your workout can sometimes be difficult; however, considering all the benefits, a morning exercise routine might be just what you need!

NIFS fortunately makes it easy for members to participate in morning exercise with early opening hours and morning group fitness classes, so try one today!

Try a group fitness class for free

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

Topics: fitness center motivation muscles metabolism high intensity morning workouts

Crucial Conversations: Working with a Coach or Personal Trainer

buffy5years.jpgI recently received a lesson on the origin and true meaning of the word coach. A coach can be defined as something that takes you somewhere, such as a stage coach or coach seat on an airliner. But a COACH is someone who takes you where you want to go. One of the many powers of a coach is the ability to make memories and lessons that stick with you forever, that take you places every day. I have been coached for the majority of my life before ultimately becoming one because knowing the effect these special people had on me, I wanted to be that for someone else.

But that’s me, that’s the way I am wired. But I wanted to find out from people like you why a COACH is so important. I had a great conversation with longtime NIFS member Buffy Linville and I posed the question: Why did you want to work with a coach? She had plenty so say, and I am honored and excited to share her thoughts with you.

Why did you want to work with a coach, Buffy? 

My own experience with a personal trainer came after many years of unsuccessfully trying to lose weight. I finally accepted the fact that I didn’t know how to do it on my own. With great apprehension, I approached a coach at my gym and inquired about personal training. I had to fight off the desire to “get in better shape” first (kind of the same mindset that tells you to clean your house before the housekeeper comes)! For some reason, we’re embarrassed to admit that we need help. That’s sad. In the beginning, it was scary. I didn’t know what to expect and I was afraid of looking foolish. I had never been an athlete or done sports of any kind, so I didn’t know what it felt like to challenge my body—to feel fatigue in my muscles or get my heart rate up. But I also didn’t know what it felt like to feel strong or to be able to run, jump, or climb. I didn’t know what good movement was, or how good it felt to conquer mental and physical challenges*.

“I had to fight off the desire to ‘get in better shape’ first (kind of the same mindset that tells you to clean your house before the housekeeper comes)! For some reason, we’re embarrassed to admit that we need help.

Fast-forward 6+ years… After several years of personal training and group training to various degrees and with various coaches, and after a sprint triathlon, two bodybuilding shows, and three powerlifting meets, I myself am now a personal trainer—a personal trainer who still seeks out personal training and coaching. This is partly because I want to keep learning from people who know more than I do, but also because in spite of all the knowledge I have about how to train and eat well and recover, I still need help. And I still fight the embarrassment of not being where I think I need to be fitness-wise. But this is why a coach is so important—you quickly find out that you’re not the only one. Everyone ebbs and flows in their journey to become better (be it with fitness, career, finances…coaching is valuable in any walk of life that’s important to you).

“Having someone help you establish realistic goals, create a plan, and then push, encourage, and support you along the way makes all the difference whether you’re brand new or a seasoned veteran.”

What are your major reasons to work with a coach?

  • Time and energy: Let someone else make the game plan. All you have to do is show up.
  • Expertise: No matter how much you know, someone else will know, if not more, at least something different than you know.
  • Education: It’s a professional’s job to stay current and always be learning. If you hire a reputable coach, you will likely always be learning something new—new exercises or a new/better way of doing something.
  • Accountability: You may already know what to do, but it’s easy to let things slide when there’s no consequence, no accountability. If someone is paying attention to and following up with you on your progress, you’re more likely to stay on track.
  • Assessments: A professional can take regular quality assessments to determine your progress and help you establish new goals.
  • Motivation: In addition to accountability, a coach will be your number-1 cheerleader. They know how hard you’re working and will celebrate your successes with you and encourage you through rough patches.
  • Efficiency: More than likely, you will work harder with a coach than you will on your own, which will help you achieve your goals faster.
    *Weight loss claims and/or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

***

I would not be where I am today if not for the coaches in my life, or people like Buffy who have coached me just as much as I have coached her. Working with someone who can get the most out of you, even when you think there is nothing left, is a powerful relationship. Find a COACH, and watch them take you somewhere.

GT-logo-revised.jpgInterested in trying Small Group Training? Contact Tony today to attend a free session!

This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS motivation group training accountability personal training Crucial Conversations coaching