NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Sprint into the New Year: Do’s and Don’ts of Sprinting for Fitness

ThinkstockPhotos-610859290.jpgThe New Year is just around the corner and many will be out to improve themselves on many levels in 2017, with health and fitness usually being number one on the list. If losing weight, increasing lean muscle tissue, and sculpting a lower half that will certainly turn heads, while all at the same time improving your heart health is what you are looking for, I have one answer. The use of sprints in the world of fitness and sport performance is nothing exceptionally new, but can be new to you. Actually, sprinting (fast, short bouts of running) was used to stay alive long before we used it as a mode of training.

Author Mark Sisson has spent a great deal of time spreading the message of the importance of sprinting to overall health, and that it was a huge part of daily life for our early ancestors. He believes, and I like his theory, that primal humans (represented by a caveman known as Grok) owed their fitness to three important concepts:

  • They walked great distances during their hunting and gathering trips.
  • They lifted heavy things such as building materials and large animals.
  • They sprinted for their lives from time to time from wild animals, and chased down game for their paleo dinner.

So Mark says, walk a bunch, lift heavy things (and set them back down, of course), and sprint once in a while, and fitness will find you. I think he nailed it. There isn’t much difference between a sound fitness program and what I just described. So why is sprinting so important and beneficial?

The Benefits of Sprinting

There are easily a hundred benefits of sprinting. This acute stressor can have many positive effects on your body. Here are just a few benefits of adding sprint work into your training:

  • Sprinting can be used across all fitness levels.
  • Sprinting doesn’t take a lot of time to do.
  • Sprinting burns fat.
  • Sprinting improves endurance.
  • Sprinting improves insulin sensitivity.
  • Sprinting is a fun and easy way to get and stay lean.

When implementing sprinting into your training, there are some pretty important steps to follow. To help you get started, here are a few tips that will get you on your way to sprinting more in 2017.

Step 1: Prepare Your Feet and Mobilize Major Joints

Feet: https://nifs.wistia.com/medias/7w84n4t9px

Mobilize: https://nifs.wistia.com/medias/l6m3ft8v72

Step 2: Perform a Proper Warmup

Warmups: https://nifs.wistia.com/medias/x6i393bxk3

Step 3: Ease into Sprinting

When starting your sprinter program, follow a progressive level of intensity and volume. You do not want to start out with all-out sprints for 100 meters for sets of 5 to 10. That is a surefire recipe for an injury at worst, and failure to perform the movement properly at best.

A great tip I picked up from Eric Cressey is to start by sprinting uphill first before moving to the track or any flat surface. This will help with proper mechanics and decrease the chances of injury because you are less likely to overextend. Your timed intervals should start at a 1:2 work-to-rest ratio and gradually ramp up to a 1:1, and even a 2:1 ratio. For example, do :20 of max work followed by :40 of rest, then repeat for the desired number of sets.

The recovery from the sprint is just as important, and I would recommend using your heart rate to tell you when it is time to go again. Waiting until your heart rate is 110bpm or lower before starting your next bout is a good general rule. I am also a huge fan of using your heart rate both as a measure of intensity and for determining your rest. You would rest until your heart rate recovered to 110–120bpm before starting your next set. The bottom line is that there will be no first-place ribbon waiting for you at the end of your sprint, so know your limits and use a progressive program when implementing sprinting.

Step 4: Mix It Up with Different Types of Sprinting

Treadmill: https://nifs.wistia.com/medias/bsjs720s4a

One of the best things about sprinting is that there are several ways to sprint, and sprinting is relative to you. If you give everything you’ve got into a sprint, that is where the work is done, but it doesn’t mean you will be breaking any land speed records (unless your last name is Bolt). Your sprints don’t have to be rep after rep of 100m dashes; it just has to be a near max effort for a few reps or a short period of time. Those who claim they just got done completing 20 sprints were probably not maximally sprinting. If you intersperse a couple periods of higher effort levels with periods of lower effort levels, you will be in good shape (pun intended).

Here are some other sprinting options:

Sprinting can be a fun and very effective training tool in both fat burning and performance. I can’t stress enough the importance of a proper warmup and easing into higher-intensity sprints. Stay healthy so you can stay moving! (And if you have injuries, see this blog for tips on working through it.)

Ready for another challenge in 2017? Train with us in our Mini-Marathon and 5K Training Program! Starts July 25th!

Minilogo_2017.jpg

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAM AND GET REGISTERED TODAY!

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: fitness injuries sprinting paleo heart rate warmups new year joints

50 Shades of Bruise: Non-Contact Contusions After a Workout

With an element of self-consciousness and a mystery to some, non-contact bruises due to exercise can cause some discomfort and become a deterrent to those who really need exercise but don’t want this side-effect. Typically occurring following an intense bout of exercise (such as a marathon), non-contact bruises appear even though the individual may not have physically injured the area.

Other types of bruises occur more often than not from some type of physical trauma. If you have experienced this exercise side effect or just are curious about the topic, we will take a closer look at the bruising phenomena simply known as a contusion.

What Causes Bruising After Exercise?ThinkstockPhotos-200380515-001

Several factors are associated with these developments, including age, experience, current medication, and genetics. Most bruises occur following a significant accident, fall, or surgery, but not always. Some bruises are caused by some underlying weakness in the blood pathways. The exercise (whether it is extensive “pounding the pavement” or “pumping the weights”) intensifies over the course of time, leading to a bruise effect. 

The bruise, usually bluish, purple, or green, is caused by small ruptures in blood capillaries that seem to develop near the recent trauma site and can be more or less serious depending on the severity of the injury. 

On a side note, people who are bruised due to being struck are only amplifying the issue by exercising. The bruise will go away slower, stay the same, or even get worse. Other issues other than bruising that come up include swelling and pain (WebMD, 2015).

How to Heal Contusions

The best remedy for a bruise is to rest the body part that is bruised. Applying a slight pressure wrap can be helpful. Normal pain management devices such as ointment and Tylenol seem to be the most common treatment for aches and discomfort. 

You can also look to a dietitian to see whether your diet is a contributing factor (MD-Health, 2015). People low in certain vitamins and minerals are more apt to the bruise effect. Your age and medications can cause blood to thin, leading to an unmerited bruise (WebMD, 2015).

If the problem persists, I would recommend calling your physician. If your physician feels that your condition is not serious, you can resume exercise when you feel comfortable doing so. Most likely, you can resume normal activity following recovery. Your bruise can just be a simple reminder that our bodies are pretty amazing machines and we need to take care of them to ensure we can continue to “pound the pavement” or “pump the weights” for a long, long time. 

Rejoice and Evolve,

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Instructor at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.
Topics: exercise nutrition fitness center Thomas' Corner injury prevention injuries

Running with Scissors: The Art of Stupidity in Fitness

ThinkstockPhotos-462463965A recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) looked at the winners of the past Darwin Awards. These awards are given to people who die in an idiotic manner, thereby insuring the long-term survival of the human species by removing themselves from the gene pool.

The study examined 318 cases. Of them, 282 (or 88.7%) were men. These results support the emerging “Males are Idiots Theory” (MIT). The authors were at a loss to explain the reasons for males dominating the art of stupid death, but they offered that men are more willing to take unnecessary risks simply as a rite of passage, for male social esteem, or perhaps just for bragging rights. It is also believed that alcohol had a lot to do with the outcomes (duh!).

Macho Man Cuts Off Own Head

My favorite Darwin Award went to Polish farmer Krystof Azninski, who in 1996 cut off his own head while trying to prove how macho he was by one-upping his friend who had just cut off his own foot with a chainsaw. Azninski won. And lost.

The bout started while drinking (again, duh). They began hitting each other over the head with frozen turnips. But when Azninski’s friend cut off his own foot, Azninski felt compelled to respond.

As kids, we were all warned about the dangers of running with scissors: “It’s all fun and games until someone pokes an eye out.” When you’re 4 years old, that gruesome image stays with you and vividly comes back every time you hold scissors. Running is the last thing on your mind, at least for most people.

But there are some who never listen and seemingly never learn. Tell them the stove is hot and they’ll end up with a second-degree burn because they had to prove it to themselves. Their universe is a lot different than ours, and if we were able to listen in on the conversation in their heads, we would twitch in disbelief. Logic? What logic?

Fitness and the Male Ego

What does this have to do with fitness? Well, while walking around the gym, I twitch a lot because I see bad technique. I see really dumb exercises. And worse, I see really dumb exercises done badly—and you guessed it: mostly by men. In this environment, I assume alcohol is not involved, so it must be something else. Let’s try the male ego.

Maybe it’s a guy thing, but very few males will seek out proper lifting instruction, and there are some who will not even accept it when it is offered. Their pride won’t let them consider that they may be doing something wrong, and they are not going listen to another male tell them that they are. Female trainers, in this situation, stand no chance in helping these men regardless of their qualifications and experience.

Females, on the other hand, are not invested in false pride and are more interested in exercising correctly. They have no unrealistic expectations of strength and are pleasantly surprised when strength arrives. Their major concern is that they simply want to lift correctly and avoid injuries, and are therefore more willing to listen and follow through on instructions. Because of this, they progress better toward their goals and suffer from fewer injuries on the way.

I see the gym’s version of Krystof Azninski round-backing deadlifts, knees collapsing inward while squatting, totally missing the point of the Olympic Lifts (which is power development, not conditioning), engaged in a death struggle under the bar while benching, not having the strength and proper technique to handle the weight they’re using on any exercise, etc. The point is they are more interested in demonstrating strength than actually developing it.

Running with scissors, running with dumbbells; it’s all metaphorically the same. It’s all fun and games until you poke out an eye, rupture a disc, blow out a knee, or turn a shoulder into hamburger.

Guys, take pride in “doing it right.” Let results come to you naturally; don’t chase them. Stop running with scissors, and for god’s sake put down that chainsaw!

To learn more about how a NIFS personal trainer can help you with injury prevention, click here.

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: fitness fitness center injury prevention injuries personal training

“Sir! Yes Sir! May I Have Another?” The Militarization of Fitness

200069247-001There is a fitness trend that has been bothering me for a long time, and in recent years it has gotten exponentially worse. There are exercise programs that have actually declared war on the human body, and by doing so, have widened the gap further between health and fitness.

I know that they are commonly linked, but please understand that health and fitness are not the same thing. You can have very healthy biomarkers and still be unfit. Likewise, you can have tremendous strength or outrageous endurance and be very unhealthy.

The Trend of Intense, Dangerous Workouts

This current version of “beating the body into submission” by the evil triumvirate of ego, willpower, and ignorance started with the media marketing experiment of P90X and its search for the limits of stupidity that people would pay for. At about the same time, there was the appearance of neighborhood boot camps that were conducted on strip mall parking lots and/or any available piece of grass that no one would be chased off of, led by unqualified trainers out to make a quick buck by riding the trend of selling pain to the fitness gullible. And then came the growth of CrossFit and its many copies selling to the male ego: SWAT Team, MMA, and Special Ops–inspired training so that “You can be the man!”

The common theme of this period is finding the limits of discomfort that the public can be convinced to invest their time, energy, and money into by marketing to the ego’s desire for quick and nearly impossible change by violating the basic laws of human biology and twisting logic to arrive at “the-end-justifies-the-means” training: No Pain, No Gain! Train to Failure. Train Hard or Go Home!

Currently, we have a cultural fitness myth that is doomed to fail because it is not sustainable. The human body cannot live on the “edge” for long without breaking down. The changes we desire actually occur during recovery as a result of proper exercise stimulus. More stimulus is not better; it is just more, and too much can retard recovery and greatly increase the risk of injury.

Jonathan Angelili wrote a very thoughtful blog published on Greatist titled, “The Massive Fitness Trend That’s Not Actually Healthy at All,” where he states that the fitness industry has come to “glorify exercise as an all-out war on the body.” Instead of living within our bodies and having fitness and health evolve naturally, the ego/mind plays the role of sadistic coach intent on whipping the lazy body to reach some arbitrary goal as quickly as possible, at which time another arbitrary goal is launched, so the beatings continue.

P90X, boot camps, and CrossFit didn’t create this antagonistic attitude toward the human body, but rather they simply took advantage of it. We, as a culture, have had a very long history of the mind being separated from the body and the belief that success, however you define it, must be chased down and wrestled to the ground at all cost, including the loss of health. The belief is “the more you want it, the more you must sacrifice to get it.” Sadly, way too many people are quite willing to sacrifice their health for what they have been convinced is The Standard for Fitness, not realizing that health and fitness can be diametrically opposed.

Pain Is a Great Teacher!

Punch a shark long enough in the nose and it will eventually bite you. Living on the extreme edge of training because it makes the ego feel special and supported by the mistaken beliefs that more is better and more often is better yet, a breakdown is inevitable. If you want to put a smiley face on this situation, pain is a great teacher.

Pain gets your attention in a way that nothing else can. Movement can no longer continue without a constant reminder that something is very wrong, and more than likely, you are responsible.

The mindset that led to the pain happening in the first place will begin by muscling on: icing, taking OTC pain relievers, and even metaphorically just “rubbing dirt on it.” You know, just suck it up and move on. Next will come a quick trip to a doctor for the next level up pain relief so that the same training can continue without missing a beat. If none of that works, then comes the specialist with X-rays, MRIs, PT, and possible surgery. That same training that got you here has stopped and the search begins for “what can I do now?”

Like a shop teacher accidentally cutting off his fingers with a band saw: Oops! At least, you’re helping the medical economy.

There is inherent risk in exercising. Most waiver forms state that exercise can even cause death, extremely rare but still possible, but the injuries I’m referring to come under the heading of “Can Be and Should Be Avoided” with an eye toward injury prevention.

Reasonable goals, properly designed workout programs, and just some plain common sense can go a long way to safely reaching your goals with few injury setbacks. If you are involved in fitness for the long haul, these three elements can lead to an enjoyable life of fitness and health.

Just ask yourself two questions:

  1. Is what I’m doing striving toward health and fitness?
  2. Am I learning to live within my body and experiencing greater joy while on this journey?

If your answers are yes, cool, you’re on your way.

If your answers are no, then “Sir! Yes Sir! May I Have Another!”

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: fitness injury prevention challenge boot camp overtraining health injuries pain fitness trends CrossFit

4 Questions to Determine If You’re Ready for Your First Marathon

Has completing a marathon always been on your bucket list? Are you looking for a new challenge and to step up your commitment to fitness this year? You may be ready to try your first marathon! Here are 4 questions to ask yourself to determine whether you are ready:

1. Have You Run a Few Half-Marathons? marathon-1

Yes: Great! You are already halfway there! You mentally know what it takes to complete long-distance runs and a training program, and you have experienced that race atmosphere and everything that goes with it. Along with this, you know the ins and outs of how to fuel, hydrate, and recover from the high-mileage training properly.

No: That is okay! Starting with a half-marathon is a great first step to getting to that first marathon. This will get your body and mind up to speed with more ease than jumping into a full marathon

2. Do You Have the Time to Dedicate to Training?

Yes…I think: Training for a marathon requires more time and energy than training for a half-marathon. To prepare to have the most successful race that you can come race day, you will need to complete some long training runs that go up to 20 or 22 miles! Depending on the speed that you are going, this can take you between 2 and 5.5 hours. Be sure that you have a day during the week that you will be able to dedicate toward this kind of training. Along with this, you will need to complete two or three additional runs or walks throughout the week, as well as complete some cross-training sessions.

No: Training for a marathon may not be in the cards for you right now. If you have a lot going on as it is and hardly find time to squeeze in a short 3- or 4-mile run or walk, completing a marathon successfully should wait until your schedule calms down.

3. Are You Motivated to Complete 26.2 Miles?

Yes: Good! This will carry you through those long runs mentally. Having the desire to get out there and train to complete the race is key to having a successful training program.

Not really: You should keep that in mind before starting to train and signing up for your first race. If you are not completely sure that you are motivated to do the race, hold off on signing up. I suggest completing a few weeks of a marathon training program to see if your motivation grows as the distances get longer. If you find yourself becoming less motivated right away, reconsider your goal and maybe stick with a half-marathon again.

4. Are You Running/Walking Consistently and with Few Injury Issues?

Yes: That is a huge plus! If you are already consistently going out for runs or walks and are not having any pains or injuries, it is safe to start ramping up your mileage slowly to prepare for the marathon.

No: Get consistent and healthy first! If you are not consistently walking or running, that is the first thing that you should do. Consider following a scaled-back training plan and start by making sure to complete 3 or 4 days of walking/running for at least a month. If this seems to be going well and you are not running into any injuries, you can start to reconsider.fall-marathon

If you said yes to all of these questions, it is pretty safe to say you are ready to get started on a marathon training program! If you answered a few with “no,” no worries. A marathon is still not too far out of reach. Just address the obstacles that you have and work toward resolving those!

If you are looking for a marathon training program for this fall, consider joining the NIFS Fall Marathon Training Program. It is geared toward preparing individuals to complete the Monumental Marathon on November 1 in Indianapolis.

This blog was written by Stephanie Kaiser, Fitness Center Manager and Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: NIFS motivation goal setting running marathon training half marathon NIFS programs race training injuries

The Injury Hurdle: Progressing Through Injuries

If you are a physically active individual, and I hope you are, at some point you will probably have to deal with an injury. Sprains, strains, pulls and “itis” of any kind at some point is a cost of doing business in fitness and performance. But does it mean that you have to put all progress on hold during the healing process? I believe that injury is not synonymous with inability. Let me explain.

Consult a Doctor for Exercise Injuries with Painexercise injury

First and foremost, I am not advocating disregarding any recommendations from your physician. If you feel pain in any movement, which can be discovered in a quick and easy Functional Movement Screen; or maybe you have suffered some kind of acute trauma; you should absolutely consult a doctor about that pain and follow the directions of that health professional. After you have taken those important steps, it’s time to evaluate what you are still capable of performing and put a plan in action that can keep you on track to health and physical fitness. In my personal experience and working with individuals for over a decade, there are ways to continue to progress while you are injured.

Depending on the type of injury (the body part, classification, and severity), you can focus on other aspects of your fitness that will not affect the rehabilitation of the injury.

Injury Scenarios and How to Keep Working Out

Here is a list of common injury scenarios and some tips to continue to get work done. Again, these are all dependent on the type and severity of the injury, and physician recommendations should be followed at all times.

 Type/Body Part

 Alternative Focus

 Exercise Examples

 Upper body (arms, shoulders, 
 chest)

 Lower body, core stability and 
 strength, asymmetrical work,
 cardio

 Body weight squat variations, 
 active leg raises, cycling

 Lower body (legs, hips, ankles)

 Upper body, core stability and
 strength, asymmetrical work,
 low-impact cardio

 Seated/lying dumbbell pressing
 or pulling exercises, arm cycle
 ergometer, rope machine, lying
 core activation

 Back (lumbar, T-spine,
 cervical)

 Hip mobility, shoulder mobility,
 core stability

 Foam rolling, hip stretches,
 planks, loaded carries

 Skeletal (bones)

 Low-impact movements,
 mobility and stability work

 Cycling, rope machine, cycle
 ergometer, Lying core stability

 Soft tissue (muscle, fascia,
 ligaments, tendons)

 Mobility and stability work

 Foam rolling, lacrosse ball
 T-spine mobility, band 
 hamstring stretch

The bottom line is simply that progress does not need to stop due to an injury and that you can focus your attention on parts of the body that are not affected by the injury. Keep it simple: if your arm is injured, focus on the lower body, and perform mainly primal exercises such as squats, lunges, and hinges. I remind you to follow the recommendations of your physician, and at the same time, seek out the advice of your fitness professional here at NIFS to help guide you through an injury.

Tony Maloney is the Fitness Center Manager and leads Group Training Sunday through Thursday. Follow Tony on Facebook. Learn more about the NIFS bloggers.

 

Topics: fitness center workouts functional training injuries pain