<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=424649934352787&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Training the Active Aging Adult (Part 3 of 4)

ThinkstockPhotos-523032469-1In earlier installments, I’ve talked about health concerns for active people over 40, as well as the importance of strength and functional training for people in this age group. As promised, I will now focus in on strength training, and we’ll start with your butt.

The glute complex (your hips) has the greatest potential for strength and power in the human body, and is the foundation for all ground-based movement. If used properly, it lifts things up (like the grandkids) and spares the low back. Let’s call this the “lifting things up” or the dead-lift pattern.

The Lost Glutes

Because of the enormous amount of sitting done in our modern lifestyle, many adults can’t find their glutes (through muscle activation) with a map, hand mirror, and a flashlight. When you place people on their backs on the floor with their knees up and feet planted on the ground, then have them try to raise their hips off the floor by contracting just their glutes, many will fire their hamstrings while their glutes remain totally quiet. This situation has been referred to as glute amnesia; more accurate would be to say it’s a disconnect between brain and muscle. The body will find a way to accomplish the desired task by resorting to Plan B (in this case, the hamstrings) if the primary movers, the glutes, are offline. The hips will move off the ground but at a cost: inefficient movement, lower performance potential, and higher risk of injury to the Plan B muscles—and also to surrounding tissue and joints.

Foundational Movement: The Hip Hinge

Learning to properly hinge the hips and to activate the glutes is critical for skilled and graceful movement and injury prevention as you age. This is life quality for now and into your future. So let’s try the foundational movement, the hip hinge:

  1. Stand with your feet about hip width apart and hands resting on the front of your thighs. You can also hold a light barbell or a pair of light dumbbells to provide a little resistance.
  2. With your lower legs perpendicular to the ground, push your hips backward while bending forward at the hips. Your upper body will fold over with your back in a straight line from the tailbone to the back of your head.
  3. Do not squat and do not bend forward at the waist (lumbar spine).
  4. Once your hands reach your knees, pause, focus on your glutes, and tighten them as you try to push the ground away with your feet. Return to standing with a straight line from the heels to the back of your head.
  5. Rinse and repeat until the movement feels natural.
  6. If in doubt, keep your hips higher while you bend forward and sense your upper body closing the distance with the ground.
  7. If you have health issues, balance problems, or serious muscle weakness, seek proper medical assistance. Watch this video as a guide.

Your body is programmed to avoid falling on your face by trying to stay more upright and bending your knees more into a squat pattern if it doesn’t sense proper muscle activation. If you learn to position your skeleton into the correct architecture for the movement you are attempting and recruit the target muscles for that movement (in this case, the glutes and core), you will not face-dive. If you do splat, see #6 above (and please post the video on YouTube).

Every day, at some point, you will need to bend over (hinge) and pick something up. Conventional wisdom dictates that we lift with our legs from a squat position, but our greatest power for this movement comes from the hinge pattern and the glutes. That’s why we call it the Big House. Heed the immortal words from Sir Mix-A-Lot: “You can do side bends or sit-ups, but please don’t lose that butt.”

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Rick Huse, CSCS, WKC Competition Coach. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: staying active injury prevention muscles senior fitness strength exercises

Training the Active Aging Adult (Part 1 of 4)

There comes a day when you wake up one morning and realize you’re not 25 any longer. Usually, this happens when you’re 50—or in other words, after 25 years of denial and of being totally oblivious to nature’s less-than-subtle warnings: hair loss and color change, skin texture and wrinkles, where did that body fat come from, when did that thing (?) become so heavy to lift, and those stairs weren’t that high last year. The mind feels young but the body fades in and out of pretend youth. The body is also willing until it gets tired or pain rises above the level of annoyance.

But there is hope: you can be cool without being young, but cool doesn’t make you stronger, quicker, more flexible, thinner, and the owner of painless joints.

What Motivates Senior Fitness?

When you were younger, the goal of exercise was to look better naked. It seems reasonable, because younger people look better naked than old farts. Besides, older people have more pressing issues like serious joint pain, heart disease, diabetes, age-related weight gain, hormonal changes, and perhaps even the chilling shadow of cancer has visited them. No doubt that looking better and feeling better about yourself is really an important motivator to exercise, but they pale in comparison to these life-altering issues. Therefore, the motives for training of an aging active adult are more complex than a 25-year-old and must be recognized and honored when designing training programs.

Specific Health Concerns for Active Seniors

If you happen to be a fitness enthusiast over 50, these are things you need to be aware of.

  • Sarcopenia: An interesting word to say, but not so good to have, because it means a loss of muscle mass. Heavy-chain muscle fibers start dying out around age 30. Most professional athletes retire in their 30s because they have lost a step (in power and strength) and can no longer compete with younger athletes. Since most adults do not push their athletic genetic limits, they become aware of this loss of step in their 40s, or certainly by their 50s. This fiber loss is called sarcopenia. Unless there is some attempt to retain strength through formal strength training, this strength loss will continue at a ever-increasing and very noticeable rate. Common movement patterns—sit to stand, picking things up, pushing away and pulling back, pushing up and pulling down—will become increasingly more difficult as life quality decreases. Many people just give in to the process and call it “getting older.” It doesn’t have to be that way. Strength training can certainly slow it down.
  • Joint issues: Connective tissue seems to injure more easily and take longer to heal. Tendonitis becomes an all-too-common answer to the question, “How are you feeling?” Dynamic joint mobility training helps regain joint range of motion and lubricate joint surfaces with synovial fluid for cartilage health. Older athletes have to allow time in the program design for something the young take for granted.
  • Slow recovery: It takes longer for the body to repair and to make new tissue. This seems to be related to changes at the DNA and RNA levels as we age; and of course, changes in hormonal levels further compound the problem. Knowing this, nutrition and rest are key for proper recovery. The aging active adult has very little margin for error. Without proper nutrition and rest, progress will stall and the likelihood for injury will increase.
  • Balanced training: Cardio exercise is still important for overall health, but must be managed in such a way as to not interfere with the recovery for strength training, and not to add to the training volume to the point of over-training and adversely effecting the immune system. The body also does not respond well to being forced to adapt to opposing stimulus (cardio vs. strength). It gets confused as to what exactly it is being asked to do. How much cardio is very individual, but it is easy to err on the side of too much. Interval training may be an answer to those concerns by reducing the training time factor while still challenging the alactate, anaerobic, and aerobic substrates for improved conditioning.
  • Shared epiphany: There is a common experience at this age that there is a price to be paid for all of the fitness and health-related issues you chose to ignore when you were younger. Pain, discomfort, illness, and excess body fat are the reasons for your body’s “come to Jesus” meeting. Your body demands corrections, and your currency for payment is time and effort spent bringing the body back into balance. The aging active adult has been humbled enough by aging to be open to addressing these issues if the guidance they receive makes sense.

With the number of active aging adults increasing, both trainers and the older clients should understand the training needs and limitations of this age group in order to develop the best program designs that will effectively produce results and at the same time do no harm. So far, the fitness industry and fitness media have chosen to ignore the 800-pound gorilla by focusing on the 25- to 40-year-olds; but it is the aging active adults who have the greater need. They understand that the youth genie is not going back in the bottle, but that their life quality can be a whole lot better through proper training and nutrition.

In part 2 of this series, I talk more about the need for strength training at this age.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Rick Huse, CSCS, WKC Competition Coach, and originally appeared on his blog. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio injury prevention muscles joint health senior fitness endurance strength pain

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,

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

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

The Benefits of Incorporating Resistance Bands into Your Workout

bands-1If you have spent any amount of time in the gym lately, I am sure you have seen a lot of people using exercise bands for part of their workout. When looking at a flimsy, thin exercise band, many would think, “Okay, what type of workout will that even give me?” Studies have shown that workouts using exercise bands will increase muscle strength and size while helping decrease fat, similar to using free weights.

How Bands Improve Your Workout

So, whether you are in CXWORX, working out in a HIT class, or doing something on your own, using resistance bands can add significant benefits into your workout. Here are the top things they can do:

  • Provide resistance: Just like using a weight to make an exercise more difficult to do, resistance bands help to provide tension and resistance to challenge you in your workout.
  • Allow free range of motion: Doing exercises in the full range of motion is important because it helps in injury prevention. Training in full ROM puts positive stress on your connective tissue and will decrease the chance of injury.
  • Allow progressive speeds and tension without changing equipment: Adapting an exercise while using a resistance band couldn’t get any easier! With a simple step forward or backward, the tension on the band will significantly change, allowing the exercise to become easier or more difficult.
  • Easily packable for road trips or a space saver: This is the most obvious one of all; resistance bands don’t take up a lot of space, so even if you have always dreamed of that “home gym,” you can get a few bands and still make it work without a lot of equipment. It goes without saying that this is a huge cost saver.
  • Get a total body workout: Any fitness professional will tell you that you can get a full-body workout simply by using a resistance band. From biceps to triceps, back to chest, glutes to quads, and everything in between, using a band will change the idea of using 200 items to get in a full workout!

Change Up Your Workout

If you are trying to think of ways to change up your workout, think about throwing some resistance band training in there. You can ask any of the health fitness specialists at NIFS to show you some exercises or put you through a routine. 

Need help setting up a workout program? Schedule a free assessment today!

Free Fitness Assessment

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

Topics: equipment injury prevention muscles range of motion resistance Les Mills

Where Do “They” Come Up with These Exercise Names?

Salutations, NIFS friends. Whether you have been working out for 30 years or are brand new to fitness, one mystery that normally goes unsolved is “Where did they come up with the name for that exercise?” Sometimes it’s pretty self-explanatory (such as biceps curl), but other times it can be quite misleading (for example, Burpee). Then when you have met several different trainers, maybe they call the same thing something different (such as torso rotations versus Russian twists). It can be downright confusing.

Here we will explore a few of my favorite mystery exercises and dig a little deeper into their backstories.

Jumping Jacksjumping-jack

So, who invented the jumping jack, and where did it originate? I should preface that by saying that it is really hard to invent exercises, at least classic, iconic ones like “the pushup,” “the sit-up,” and “the jumping jack.” That being said, we really want to credit the jumping jack to the great Jack LaLanne. Although LaLanne made the exercise popular, it was already in use by the U.S. military and gets its name from a traditional toy in which a string is pulled and the arms and legs spread into a star or jumping-jack position. 

Burpees

Another exercise that carries some notoriety for name confusion is the Burpee. To a lot of people, the Burpee sounds like a made-up name for this brutal exercise. Prior to doing Burpees for the first time, you might snicker at the idea of doing some crazy Dr. Seuss-like movement, but then you do them and your opinion changes quickly. 

So, where do Burpees come from? Apparently, in the 1930s, Dr. Royal H. Burpee (sounds made up, right?) at Columbia University invented the Burpee as part of a PhD thesis. His Burpee test was meant to simplify fitness assessments and was used by the U.S. military. Nowadays, the Burpee is mostly associated with cruel and unusual personal trainers.

Turkish Getups

The Turkish Getup is in a category all by itself when it comes to mysteries. To some, it closely resembles a strongman wearing a leopardskin Onesie and handlebar mustache performing for a traveling-circus sideshow. 

As deep as that sounds, finding the exact origins of the Turkish Getup was even more challenging. It is thought to have originated in Turkey hundreds of years ago and to have been passed down from generation to generation to modern times, where it is primarily done with a kettlebell in either a kettlebell class or a during a CrossFit session. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the Turkish Getup’s reputation as one of the most intricate movements in all of fitness.

***

What are some names that have perplexed you or even made you laugh out loud? Share in the comments below for an open discussion and maybe you can “stump the trainer.”

Whether you call it a squat press or a thruster, one thing we always want to make sure of is safety. Your NIFS health fitness professional will ensure you’re getting a great, safe workout regardless of what you call it. Schedule a free assessment today!

Free Fitness Assessment

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

 

Topics: exercise cardio fitness center injury prevention kettlebell personal training exercises core strength CrossFit

The Importance of Recovery After Exercise

ThinkstockPhotos-184767539One of the most important elements of performance and exercise is rest, and it’s also one of the hardest things to do! According to ACE (a fitness governing body), recovery is the most important part of any person’s program. Taking time to rest your body can be challenging mentally, but rest has significant physical benefits.

The Recovery Stage

To get better at a sport or to enhance your personal fitness, you must expose your body to stresses. Different stresses include training and exercise programs like weightlifting, sprinting, endurance runs, etc. But upon completion of these stresses the human body needs to adapt to the stresses it just underwent, and this is where we get the recovery stage. 

Neglecting the recovery stage can lead to injuries. Many programs have built-in rest days, but if you are creating your own program to follow, be sure to find where to fit one in! It’s essential to listen to your body and gauge how you are feeling as well. If you are physically worn out, take a rest.

It’s Worth Making the Time for Rest

So maybe this is enough to get you to take a day or two off a week. But I know there are still some of you out there saying, “Okay, Amanda, thanks for the tip, but I’m in the middle of training hard right now for the half Ironman in Wisconsin, so I can’t afford to take a day of rest.” Let’s take a look at the benefits of recovery on the body. 

The whole purpose of recovery in exercise is to allow your muscles to repair themselves and to engage muscles that are sore from your workout. There are also different things that you can do during the recovery stage to help move the process along and come out ready to perform better than your pre-rest stage. 

Top 5 Recovery Techniques

Here are some things to keep in mind and apply while recovering:

Rest: Now we are talking about actual rest, sleep. This is one of the most important ways to get your body to quickly recover from the physical and mental demands of hard training.

Hydration and eating: One of the most vital aspects of both training and recovery is being properly hydrated. And nourishment falls right in line with hydration. Food helps to restore the body’s energy supply, so try to eat good, healthy options at the right windows of time to enhance your performance and recovery.

Massages: Getting a massage helps to loosen up muscles, increase oxygen and blood flow into muscles, remove lactic acid buildup (which is what makes you sore), and deliver nutrients from your body to your muscle.

Contrast therapy: If you are or were an athlete this may be familiar to you, but those who don’t have a facility at their disposal might not use it as frequently. You will be contrasting between an ice bath and a hot shower. You want to be sure to start and end with cold (like an ice bath). Jump in the ice bath for about 45 seconds and then into the hot shower for 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat this three times. The benefits of contrast therapy are to increase blood flow to the muscles and speed up the removal of lactic acid.

Ice bath: A familiar process to many, an ice bath causes the blood vessels of the body to constrict, pushing the blood away from the muscle because of the cool temperature. Once you are done and start to warm up, the vessels open up and allow blood flow back into the muscle, bringing with it more oxygen to help you recover.

No matter where you are currently in your workout regime, I encourage you to take some recovery time. It will benefit your performance in significant ways down the road. Consider trying a method from above that you haven’t before and see if it helps you. Different things work for different people, so find out what’s best for your body. You can also consult one of our health fitness specialists here at NIFS for advice. Most important, take time to rest and recover to avoid injury!

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

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

Topics: exercise fitness running marathon training injury prevention endurance weightlifting recovery

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.

 Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

Topics: fitness fitness center injury prevention injuries personal training

To the Extreme: Gearing Up for High-Intensity Training

High-intensityI have witnessed and been a part of a growing trend in fitness these days: “If it’s not hurting, it’s not working,” and the end of a workout consists of you lying in a pool of sweat unable to move for a few minutes. What I see are mainly poorly coached high-intensity movement jamborees with little concern for proper progressions, obsessions to complete extreme events such as marathons and mud runs, and a great deal of overtraining.

Some mistakes I have made in my own training and the training of others were based on this “it’s not effective if you don’t feel like dying at the end of it” mentality. Having completed two Tough Mudders and a Train Like a Navy Seal program myself, I understand the draw and the fascination with this type of training and events. The mistake is the notion that these are the “standard” by which we measure ourselves when it comes to our physical fitness and capabilities and what our workouts should ultimately look like. I am here to tell you that they are not.

Now, I am not advocating that you should forget about completing that first marathon pr obstacle run, or aspiring to participate in high-intensity training to challenge yourself physically. These are all fine and good, and high-intensity training can be very effective in many aspects of our fitness. What I am advocating is that you be smart about it and take the proper approach and not get caught up with the mainstream idea that this is the standard of health and fitness.

Here are some key steps to ensure that you get the best results from your training, safely. At the end of the day, it should be about getting your desired results and being able to live your daily life.

1. Get Evaluated

Receiving a proper evaluation from a qualified professional before starting any program is paramount. A good evaluation should assess your mobility, stability, relative strength, and cardiac capacity. At NIFS, we use the Functional Movement Screening to help evaluate these aspects and pinpoint any problems you may have first and foremost in your mobility. Without proper mobility, adding load will soon lead to an injury. Knowing your ability to stabilize those mobile joints will provide a focus for the next link in the chain. Having a good grasp on how strong you are with your own body is vital to future strength programming.

Lastly, how healthy are your heart and lungs? A solid evaluation will ensure you do not bite off more than you can chew when beginning your program. Sadly, most people skip this step and their first evaluation is with their doctor diagnosing an injury that occurred during training. Get the movement and fitness evaluation now!

2. Build a Foundation

After gathering that crucial information in the evaluation step, it is now time to build a strong foundation. I am sure you all have heard the story of the Three Little Pigs, so I won’t bore you by reciting it. But the important message there is without a stable and strong foundation, any gust of wind will knock you over, so to speak. Attempting high-intensity, power-based movements on a weak foundation will certainly cause the house to crumble. Adding a positive to a negative will not produce positive results (another Gray Cook truism); it will only continue to train the dysfunctional movement pattern and weaken the foundation. After you find those limitations, take the time to fix them and beef up your foundation on which to build.

3. Master Your Body

A rather frustrating trend I see a great deal is attempting advanced exercises (whether it is barbells, kettlebells, or dumbbells, to name a few) before mastering basic body-weight movements. You learned to crawl before you learned to walk, right? So why would you do heavy bench press if you cannot complete a proper push-up? I think it is drilled into our heads that the best way to look cool on YouTube or Facebook is to load the barbell up with some bumper plates (because they look bigger) and bang out a few crappy reps of a barbell squat. Utilize the best equipment that you have at your disposal, all the time, YOUR BODY! Mastering basic body-weight movements such as the push-up, squat, pull-up, and lunge will set you up properly to attempt more advanced exercises while decreasing your chance for injury. By the way, some of the most effective work I do with people does not involve any additional tools, just the most important one, themselves.

4. Follow a Progressive Program

After completing the above steps, you will know the best place to start and where eventually you would like to finish. Following a fitness program that gradually increases technical needs and intensity will allow you grow the strength and skill to take on more advanced and intense workouts and events. This program really needs to be developed specifically for you, and following a program of someone else will not elicit the same results. To get stronger, you have to start where you are capable of completing the exercise with proper technique and then gradually and systematically increase the load. That’s how it works, that’s it. You will not jump onto a bench press and bang out a world-record lift without the proper progressions. Same thing goes for all aspects of fitness.

So if that is the case (and trust me, it is), why do we think it is okay to hop right into a high-intensity workout or event that we have not yet prepared for by following proper progressions? Even worse, we wonder why we get hurt or don’t see the results we were promised by the very motivated and sweaty individual on TV. You can’t be the best at something right now. It takes methodical and progressive steps, and failure, to get there. A very important part of your progressive program is recovery. Overtraining is a huge problem these days, and I think it is simply due to the lack of knowledge that recovery equals training. The benefits of your work happen during recovery, and not necessarily during training. Keep your eyes open for an upcoming post centered around this important and sometimes neglected concept of recovery in fitness and training.

I’ll be the first to admit my mistakes and that I was “that guy” in the past. “Show up and throw up” was the motto, and anything less than that was a failure. Due to that mentality, I am not ashamed to say that I am still dealing with injuries today from that time in my training journey, and it has definitely affected my training and daily life. John Maxwell once said that “a man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them,” and I believe I have.

Don’t do what many people do: do the above steps in reverse order. If you have, be big enough to admit the mistake and correct it. Be smart about your training, and don’t get caught up in the hype of what some camps believe fitness and physical activity should look like. Gray Cook put it best when he said, “More is not better; better is better.” Be better!

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

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

Topics: injury prevention weightlifting overtraining HIT

Muscle Soreness Recovery Tips

sorenessWhen we are new to exercise or trying an exercise that is new to our body, it’s pretty common to feel SOME sort of muscular pain.

I think most of us can agree that a little muscle soreness after a fantastic workout is a fun way to remember that things are changing and that we are getting stronger. I think we can also agree (and most have experienced it) that there is a certain degree of soreness that kind of feels like “everything hurts so badly you can’t stand up or lift your arms,” which isn’t quite as motivating. Along with this you may feel irritable, fatigued, and really hungry. Sounds fun, right?

Not to worry! For each type of muscular soreness there is an amazing  recovery solution.

Why Do My Muscles Get Sore in the First Place?

The muscle soreness that you feel 24 to 48 hours after the workout is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), and it is actually caused by tiny micro-tears in the muscle and surrounding tissue. Say WHAT? Tears in the muscle? Sounds pretty terrible, right? But actually those little tears in the muscle are necessary to make things stronger.

So What Should I Do About Muscle Soreness?

To alleviate mild muscle soreness, a little movement is actually best! Try walking or some yoga. While it’s good to move after a workout to take away some of that pain, this is a pretty fine line and it’s most important to truly listen to and trust your body and give it rest when needed.

Here are five ways to take care of your muscles and reduce muscle soreness:

  1. Take it slow. Gradually progress the intensity, frequency, and duration of your workouts.
  2. Foam roll. Not sure what this is? It’s a way of stretching and basically giving your muscles and fascia a great massage. Check out our handy guide on how to foam roll!
  3. Get a massage. You’re going to love this one! Foam rolling is great, but if you have the time and funding for a therapeutic massage, it’s well worth the investment. It helps your body heal itself.
  4. Practice yoga or do some light stretching. Avoid a fast-paced or intense practice and choose something slower such as Yin or Hatha yoga.
  5. Ice the muscles. Placing an icepack on a specific area may help reduce muscle soreness in a very localized area. Make sure not to leave the icepack on for very long, though, as it may cause tissue death.

It all comes down to listening to your body and not being afraid to take a day or two to let your body heal. Soreness, injury, and illness are a time to nurture yourself and give your body the rest it needs. Take the rest, and pay attention to how much stronger you feel in your next workout!

This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, contributing writer, group fitness instructor, and author of healthy living blog Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

Topics: yoga injury prevention muscles stretching pain recovery

“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.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

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