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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

NIFS Group Fitness Class of the Month: Les Mills BODYATTACK

Nov_Bodyattack.jpgThe Group Fitness Class of the Month is BODYATTACK. When reading that name, what first comes to mind? For me, I immediately think, “Okay, slightly intimidating, but I’m intrigued. This better be good.” As a former dancer, avid runner, and group fitness instructor of multiple formats, I’d like to consider myself as having relatively good cardiovascular endurance and overall bodyweight strength. Well, let me tell you, friends, this class is no joke! Hang on now—before any of you new exercisers click away to look for an easier class, let me assure you, you too can participate! I will tell you how, but let me first give you a little background.

What Is BODYATTACK?

BODYATTACK is a pre-choreographed workout program created by New Zealand–based Les Mills. By definition, it is, “…a high-energy fitness class that caters for total beginners or total addicts. We combine athletic movements like running, lunging, and jumping with strength exercises such as pushups and squats.” The format ranges from 50–60 minutes, and can include 9–11 music tracks. The main focus for each track is

  1. Warmup
  2. Mixed Impact
  3. Plyometric
  4. Athletic Strength
  5. Running
  6. Agility
  7. Power
  8. Core
  9. Cooldown

A Challenge in All Movement Patterns

Talk about a heart pumper! All of these components are rolled into this one class, which is one of the reasons why I loved taking it. Think about the last time you had to make a quick balance shift, change direction, or switch your movement to accommodate what’s coming next within a moment’s notice. BODYATTACK takes you through all types of functional movement patterns to get you better in shape and better prepared for the “sport of life,” as Program Director Lisa Osborne states it. We do so much lifting on the gym floor—which, don’t get me wrong, is AWESOME—to be strong and lift heavy; I strive to make time to do programming like that during the week as well. However, I am a firm believer in variety and balance, which is why I got into classes in the first place and eventually teaching group fitness myself. I want to make sure the work I do in the gym translates to what I do in everyday life.

BODYATTACK challenged me in all movement patterns which, as fitness professionals, we know are essential to our overall fitness, yet sometimes we tend to neglect them when we plan our own workouts. This class had me move laterally, forward, then immediately backwards, then diagonally. Then we jumped down to the floor to work horizontally focusing on upper body and core. It can be intimidating at first, but I can assure you that if you have a good instructor teaching (which this class did), he or she will always offer plenty of modifications so that any level of fitness can participate. Functionality is key, and if something has a main goal of keeping me agile, able, and mobile, I’m all about it!

Proven Results

Another great factor of this class is the proven results it has the potential to provide. This program was researched and tested among willing participants to make sure the format performs and provides effective results. According to a recent study at Penn State, it was found that there were “…significant increases in leg and back strength as well as positive changes in aerobic fitness, agility, and power over the participants that completed three BODYATTACK classes over the course of six weeks.” Not too shabby for a few times a week!

My Challenge to You

So I challenge you, if you’re still reading this, to step out of your normal routine this month and give it a try once each week, and give your body that extra spike during your workout time. Think about it: that’s only four or five workouts within a whole 30-day period to sprinkle into your month! Who knows, maybe you’ve begun to hit a plateau and this class might be exactly the right amount of high-intensity cardio to shed that extra pound or two that can compliment your weight training on other days.

Try It at NIFS

Never tried BODYATTACK, or even group fitness for that matter, before? No problem! With any class you take here, we encourage the “Smart Start,” which includes staying for the first few tracks/songs of the workout, or simply half of the class. Then, when you feel that you’ve had enough or if that’s all you can do for now, you head out for the day with the motivation to stay for one more track next time you come back, until you find yourself completing the full class.

Check out the times for BODYATTACK on our group fitness schedule and see some of the other classes we offer. If you have never tried a group fitness class at NIFS before, and want to take that first step and check us out, find out how to try a group fitness class for free!

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This blog was written by Rebecca Heck, Group Fitness Coordinator and Health Fitness Instructor. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS cardio challenge Les Mills high intensity music BODYATTACK Group Fitness Class of the Month

Get into the Exercise and Healthy Eating Mindset Before the Holidays

fit-it-in.jpgIt’s coming…the holiday season! Many people tend to give up or have the “I’ll start fresh next year” mindset when it comes to exercise around the holidays. Don’t let that be you this year! Halloween is over and before we know it Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here. Parties will start, normal schedules will be crazy, and more food will be added to your life.

Three Tips for Staying on Track with Workouts and Food

This season, let’s go into the holidays with a different mindset. We know what’s coming—it happens every year! Here are three tips to keep you on track.

  • Schedule time for your workouts. If you know you have a party or family gathering, plan ahead. Write your exercise time on your calendar each week just like you would anything else. Scheduling time for fitness should be a priority.
  • Something is better than nothing. Gym time cut short? Don’t just blow it off! Just get into the gym and move. Getting 30 minutes of exercise is better than getting 0 minutes. Don’t let your busy holiday gatherings keep you from your exercise routine. Even if you have to do bodyweight exercises at home or portable exercises on the road, don’t just skip your workout.
  • Do a little bit better next time. You overate, you missed your workout, you have another party today. It’s okay; you didn’t lose the battle of fitness. You don’t need to overeat at the next party. Just do a little better than you did at the last. Healthy eating and exercise don’t have to be all or nothing. Just do better every day. Move a little more, and eat one less holiday treat than the day before.

Change Your Mindset—and Ask or Help!

The holidays don’t have to be a time to let it go and start over during the New Year. This year, make it different! These three tips will help you change your mindset as we enter the season of craziness and delicious goodies!

If you need help on a quick workout idea, stop by the track desk and ask a NIFS HFS to help you out!

Remember 30-minute workouts are proven to be just as beneficial as longer workouts. If your short on time or just feel 60-minutes is too long, our Small Group Training Express classes are offered on Tuesday's and Thursday's from noon-12:30p with Kaci! Try your first session free!

Try a 30-min session!

Happy Holidays!

This blog was written by Kaci Lierman, NIFS Personal Trainer. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS exercise healthy eating holidays Thanksgiving bodyweight mindset christmas new year scheduling halloween

Powerlifting Prep Lesson #3: The Deadlift

IMG_4534.jpgIn my previous posts, Powerlifting Prep Lesson #1: The Squat and Powerlifting Prep Lesson #2: The Bench, we took a look at how managing the three key principles of mobility, stability, and tension can have a huge impact on your ability to perform those two lifts at a high level while decreasing the chance of injury. We turn now to the big daddy of them all, the deadlift!

This hinging/pulling lift is easily one of the most popular lifts on the planet, and everybody wants to pull a huge bar from the ground and slam it back down. There really is no feeling like it. And not only does it look pretty cool on Instagram, the deadlift is one of the most functional exercises you can do that transfers very nicely to the outside world. Since the dawn of time we have picked up heavy things and set them back down, essentially doing deadlifts day in and day out. In the powerlifting world, the deadlift is where champions can be forged, or injuries suffered.

So let’s break down this giant lift, focusing on the three key principles introduced earlier:

  • Mobility: The full range of motion of a particular joint(s).
  • Stability: Alignment, with integrity, under load.
  • Tension: Defined with terms such as stiffness and phrases like “bending the bar,” and “spread the floor.”

Mobility

You might think that mobility would not play a big role in this lift, but like most weightlifting movements, it’s imperative. I hope I have done a good job in this series of posts to stress that it all starts with mobility. Strength, power, endurance, and any physical attribute must start at mobility, if you want to be the best that there is. The deadlift is no exception; and if you can’t touch your toes, you probably need to take a few steps back before heavy loading the deadlift.

The deadlift is a hinge pattern, so we will start there by focusing on the active straight-leg raise to monitor and improve the mobility of that pattern. A great place to start is with a leg-lower exercise or a kettlebell butt touch exercise to help improve your mobility for the deadlift.

Stability

For stability, take one more look at the active straight-leg-raise pattern to ensure you capture the mobility you gained through the two movements described above. The lying leg raise with core activation looks a lot like the leg-lowering exercise from above, as it should, but here you are adding stability to the mobility you just gained. Trunk stability is key in the deadlift; without it, spines tend to hyper-flex and lead to injury. Planks and plank variations are always a great place to start, as well as loaded carries and dynamic-stability movements such as a sandbag plank drag to challenge and train the musculature of the trunk so you can pull more weight safely.

Next, and just as with the squat and the bench, intra-abdominal pressure will also be key in pulling the most weight possible. Remember to “fill the can” by inhaling fully and pressing the air against your belt during the set-up and first phase of the deadlift. This again will help fire all of the muscles of the trunk to provide maximum stability during the lift. If you want to learn more about breathing and stability in loaded movements, check out this article from Mike Reinold as he breaks down this concept even more.

Tension

Tension in the deadlift starts with grip! Many studies correlate grip strength to overall strength, so the stronger the grip the bigger the deadlift. Loaded carries and all the variations are my go-to to help train grip strength as well as any pulling motions such as chin-ups and inverted rows.

In the other two lifts I referred to “bending the bar” as a cue to create tension in the system (body) during the lift. In the deadlift, I want you to think about taking that tension out of the bar by preloading the system before pulling the bar from the ground. Pull the bar toward your body without it leaving the ground; you should hear the plates make a kind of clicking noise. This will fire the lats and other spinal musculature to brace before accepting the load of the bar. Ideally in doing so, your entire body will move as one system, like a crane lifting a two-ton I-beam. This will make you a stronger unit to pull the bar off the ground and help eliminate hyper-flexing in the spine that can lead to a bad injury.

***

Executed correctly, the deadlift is a super-functional and super strength-building exercise. It is also one of the more exciting lifts in any powerlifting competition, and it’s sure to make some noise once again at the NIFS 4th Annual Powerlifting Competition coming up on November 11. Registration is full, but you should still come out and support all the athletes competing. It is a great show of strength, competition, and sportsmanship and great way to spend a Saturday morning in November!

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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 weightlifting powerlifting competition mobility deadlift stability tension

Powerlifting Prep Lesson #2: The Bench Press

attachment.jpgIn my previous post, NIFS Powerlifting Competition Prep Lesson #1: The Squat, I showed you how managing three key principles can have a huge impact on your ability to squat low and heavy as well as minimize the risk for injury. As a reminder, here are those three key principles:

  • Mobility: The full range of motion of a particular joint(s)
  • Stability: Alignment, with integrity, under load.
  • Tension: Defined with terms such as stiffness and phrases like “bending the bar” and “spread the floor.”

Once again I will break down each of these principles and apply them to the next big lift, the bench press. First, be sure to check off your list a few of the basics of the bench press when you are setting up for your next set. As soon as you are up to speed on those weightlifting basics, take a look at how these three principles can impact your bench and how to work to improve your performance.

Mobility

In the bench press, this principle is generally focused around the mobility of the shoulder complex and thoracic spine. I could argue the effects of immobile hips, but we will save that for another time. The ability of the shoulder to pass through the full range of a pressing motion will play one of the biggest roles in determining your success. Just as with the squat, I would strongly recommend starting with soft tissue work of the lats, pecs, and upper back. Utilize different tools like a foam roller, or a tennis or lacrosse ball depending on your level of tightness.

After mashing the tissue surrounding the shoulder complex, the next step is to perform some active stretching of the shoulder area. This can be as simple as basic arm circles and a door stretch or a quadruped t-spine rotation exercise. One of my favorites for shoulder mobility is the hang. Get to a pull-up bar, grasp it with an overhand grip, and hang from it. Take long, controlled breaths while you hang with longer, more forced exhalation. Start with these or any other drills for the shoulder and upper body and you will increase your rate of success in the bench.

Stability

Trunk stability and core strength play a major role in this lift. To help strengthen the muscles of the trunk, I like to keep things simple by performing planks and plank progressions like the RKC plank. Secondly, and just as with the squat, intra-abdominal pressure is also key in the bench press. “Filling the can” with air is the best way to set this principle in motion. Before lowering the bar to the chest, inhale fully, attempting to fill your entire trunk with air (wearing a belt here helps). Hold that breath and lower the bar with the “can full” and explode from the chest.

Placing your feet flat on the ground will also add stability to the system. Even if you need to have some risers like me, get your feet flat on the ground. This helps with keeping your back flat on the bench, allowing you to utilize the trunk to do its job: to stabilize you.

One more thing: stabilize the shoulders with external rotating of the shoulder by “dialing” your hands outwardly like you were turning two large radio knobs (those still exist, right?). Stabilize the mobility you gained from the previous drills and really pack a punch in your bench press.

Tension

“Bending the bar” is a phrase introduced in the preceding post about the squat, and it holds just as much weight in the bench as well. During your setup, you want to act as if you are actively bending the bar before lowering it to your chest. This will create tension in the lats, shoulder complex, and upper back. This tension, as you will see more with the deadlift in the next post, allows the body to move as a “stiff” unit, expressing the greatest amount of strength during this phase. You can also increase tension by pushing your heels through the ground, another reason to have your feet flat on the ground during the pressing motion. Creating tension from the onset of the lift is what will separate a good lift from a failed lift.

***

The only secrets to a bigger bench are the principles I have listed above. These are standards to performing at a higher level and will allow your body to respond to heavier and heavier weights. Implement even a few of the suggestions from above and feel the difference.

The NIFS 4th Annual Powerlifting Competition is coming up on November 11. Don’t miss out on this exciting celebration of strength designed for all experience and fitness levels.

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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 weightlifting powerlifting competition mobility stability tension bench press

NIFS October Group Fitness Class of the Month: BodyJam

October_bodyjam2.jpgWho doesn’t like to get their groove on when the hottest new song comes on? I would not put myself into the category of a “big dancer,” or in fact a dancer at all, but from time to time when a good jam comes on the radio, I am guilty of pulling out my car dance moves.

Now what if I told you that you could work out by dancing? For some, this sounds much more appealing than hitting the machines or lifting heavy things. Dancing has more benefits than just completely embarrassing yourself and being totally okay with it! And Les Mills’ BodyJam class has come up with the perfect combination of good modern music, dance moves, and a workout all rolled into one class. And it's our group fitness class of the month.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of dancing, what BodyJam is really composed of, and why it can benefit you.

The Fitness Benefits of Dancing

Dancing is a great workout because it…

  • Is a good way to stay fit for people of all ages, shapes, and sizes.
  • Helps you tone, strengthen, and build greater endurance for your muscles.
  • Has cardiovascular benefits.
  • Has a very high enjoyment factor.
  • Assists in weight management.
  • Increases bone density due to weight-bearing exercise.
  • Increases coordination and flexibility.
  • Improves balance.
  • Is a great way to meet other friends at the gym.

And finally:

Working Out While Dancing

BodyJam is a dance-inspired cardio workout. This 60-minute class will get your heart rate going and elicit a pretty solid calorie burn. Not to mention that the music is constantly changing and being updated with the “what’s most hot” list. Sounds like the full package deal to me: you get to hear the latest songs, dance away, and get a cardiovascular workout all at the same time!

But for all of you out there like me with two left feet, fear not: this class is still for you! With an instructor leading the class and showing you the moves, you are sure not to get left behind.

Give It a Try at NIFS!

With the vast benefits of dancing, and the format of a Les Mills BodyJam class, I would say it’s worth a try! Check out the NIFS group fitness schedule for BodyJam class times. Classes are free to members. If you are not a member of NIFS currently, you can purchase a class pass at the NIFS service desk.

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

Topics: NIFS Les Mills music Group Fitness Class of the Month dancing BodyJam

NIFS Powerlifting Competition Prep Lesson #1: The Squat

The 4th Annual Powerlifting Competition is slated for November 11, 2017, and we are pumped (pardon the pun) to host another high-energy and exciting celebration of strength on the floor of the NIFS fitness center. Many will enter with the goal of dominating their weight class as well as grabbing that coveted top male or female trophy and being the 2017 NIFS Champion.

IMG_7071.jpgIf you are one of the athletes who have thrown their hats into the ring, I want to give you three key principles that will help you be the best you can be on event day for each of the three lifts. Those lifts, of course, are the squat, bench, and deadlift. Today we will focus on the squat. We will get to the other two soon, so keep an eye on the NIFS blog. You can improve by using these three key principles, whether you are a competitor or a spectator.

We will look at the same three weightlifting principles for each of the lifts, but each concept will be aimed specifically for each of the three different movement patterns. I learned long ago that principles should guide not only your training, but also your life. And as it relates to movement, variations of movement patterns may change, but the principles to train it will not.

The three key principles we will focus on for each of the lifts are

  • Mobility: The full range of motion of a particular joint(s).
  • Stability: Alignment, with integrity, under load. (A great lesson from Gray Cook that I learned in a workshop once.)
  • Tension: For our context in this and the two following posts, we will define tension as the word stiffness and explain phrases like “bending the bar” and “spread the floor.”

All three of these principles will directly impact how well you perform in each of the three lifts in specific ways. Let’s see how these can impact your squat and how to work to make things better.

Mobility

In the squat, and the back squat specifically, we continue to find the lack of ankle mobility to be a huge factor in how deep you can go and how much weight you can throw on your back. In a July article by Gray Cook (if you can’t tell, I learn a lot from him), Gray explains the importance of knowing your ability to flex your ankle and how it can disrupt the chain. Come see us and we can provide that screen for you. Improving your ankle mobility is a sure-fire way to improve your squat. The first step would be to do some soft-tissue work on the calf and surrounding areas using a foam roller, roller stick, or tennis/lacrosse ball. A simple drill that I would recommend is a wall ankle flexion drill, which you will perform in a few different directions.

Place your hands on a wall with one foot approximately 2–3 inches away from the wall and stagger the other foot behind you. While keeping the heel of the front foot “glued” to the ground, attempt to touch the wall with that same-side knee. Hold the position for a 2 count, return to the start position, and repeat for 4–5 more reps. Then aim that same side knee over your big toe and repeat for 5–6 reps, and then again but with your knee aimed out over your pinky toe. Switch legs and repeat the series. If you can touch the wall with your knee and your heel stays on the ground, move back one inch. The goal is to increase the degree of flexion in your ankle. You can measure your progress by how far from the wall your foot is.

Stability

Considering that powerlifters place huge amounts of weight on their shoulders and pretty much sit down and stand up, spinal stability is so important in performing technically sound and safe squats. Of course, planks and carries are great exercises to strengthen your trunk muscles, which will help prepare you for squatting, but what about during an actual mid-weight squat? Increase your intra-abdominal pressure by bracing your abdominal and low-back muscles. A great way to accomplish this is by wearing a belt. Tighten the belt and push your entire midsection against it, then squat. The belt also provides its own stability by reducing spinal flexion, or bending over. Lastly, wearing a belt is a requirement during competition, so if you are not training with one, you’d better get on it.

Tension

Tension, or stiffness in a lifter, is key when loading up the body with a challenging load. Without it, safety is at risk as well as success in completing the lift. “Bending the bar” is a phrase we use where a lifter will attempt to bend the bar on their shoulders by pulling the bar down with their hands. This, as they say, will take tension out of the bar and stiffen the lifter to move as one complete unit. Another major benefit of this cue is engaging the lats of the back by pulling the bar around your shoulders to help engage the glutes, which are key muscles in a strong squat. The lats connect to the glutes, the only muscle that connects the upper and lower body. Simply put, by creating tension in the lats, you increase the effectiveness of your butt.

The other cue that will increase tension in a lifter, specifically in the glutes, will be to “spread the floor” with your feet. Once in position and before you squat, feel as if you are trying to create space between your feet by pushing the floor away. Your position should not change, but your tension surely will. Maintain spreading the floor throughout the squat to reap the full benefits of this strategy.

***

So squat on, athletes, using mobility, stability, and tension to improve your positioning, which will ultimately lead to bigger lifts. Stay tuned as we break down the bench and the deadlift, focusing again on these key aspects.

Come watch our 4th Annual Powerlifting Competition here at NIFS, Saturday, November 11th at 9am.

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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 weightlifting powerlifting competition glutes mobility movement squat stability tension

Fall Fitness in Indiana: The Perfect Weather for Outdoor Exercise

ThinkstockPhotos-514312120.jpgIn Indiana, we experience all four seasons (sometimes all in the same day!). Your outdoor training and exercise regimen can be effected significantly by the season. While summer can be a fun, exciting time, exercising outdoors can be daunting and somewhat risky. While making sure you have plenty of water and sunscreen is important, a workout could just as easily be sabotaged by a trip for ice cream. Conversely, winter has its own set of challenges, including bundling up and having the proper footwear, as well as thinking about running out of daylight.

Luckily, for us Hoosiers, there is a happy medium: fall. Fall in Indiana provides us not only the ideal temperatures for outdoor exercise, but also the right atmosphere to get a jump on the busy holiday seasons. Here we discuss what you can do to make your autumn fitness lifestyle as productive as possible.

Family Exercise

Enjoying time with your dear ones can be challenging in the summer as well as winter. The kids are going to the pool in the summer, and there are so many family get-togethers in the winter, so it’s hard to relax for one weekend. There are many weeks in fall that allow for family time and exercise. Getting out in the cooler weather helps everyone become more comfortable with the environment. In turn, exercise comes more easily.

If you want your family to be more productive, raking leaves and yard work not only helps get your yard looking nice, but also gives you exercise and the self satisfaction of a job well done. Branching out from there, neighborhood cleanups tend to happen this time of year as well. You may reach out to your local neighborhood leaders to see when the next opportunity comes up.

For the Children

During the summer months, children have a lot of time to get outdoors and play. This form of exercise is a great way to develop physically and socially. With fall comes the return of school. Although many schools have recess and physical education classes, there seems to be a lack of lifetime physical fitness activities. There also seems to be an abundance of sitting. To counteract childhood obesity, getting your children the physical fitness they deserve could help keep their bodies strong and reduce the risk of diabetes.

What Can You Do?

Easy enough: GO OUTSIDE! Enjoy the foliage. Fall in Indiana produces postcard-quality beauty and charm. Although the weather isn’t bad, make sure to layer your clothing so that you can be more comfortable.

When it comes to nutrition, make sure to discipline your sweet tooth (for example, against Halloween candy) and tame your urges to try the Pumpkin Spice Everything. Boot camps are also a popular class in this season. Any group activities are a bonus because you will not only get great fitness but also meet new, like-minded individuals who can help you find a support network.

Your Challenge

I encourage you to step out this season. Get some exercise with your family and venture to a part of the state you might have never visited. There are dozens of state parks and recreational areas waiting to be explored. You can get a head start on the holiday season, and hopefully when your New Year’s resolution is on the front burner, you will be ready to go!

For more ideas for training this time of year, see a NIFS Health Fitness Specialist, who can design workout plans and discuss goals so that you are getting the right exercises to reach your personal bests. Let’s go!

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness nutrition new year's fall Indiana outdoor exercise

STRENGTH: 6 Expert Weightlifting Tips to Be Stronger Than Ever

power.jpgStrength. We all want it, and many of us will go to great lengths to obtain it. Strength and the ability to be strong will find its way into all of our lives, from weightlifting in the gym to all the activities of daily living (ADLs). It was once explained to me that you should picture your absolute strength as a bucket; the bigger the bucket (the stronger you are), the more things you can put into the bucket. Aspects of health and fitness such as mobility, endurance, agility, and power can all be better developed and improved with the presence of strength. To put it simply: be strong—be better.

Of course you can google “how to get strong,” and you will find no shortage of philosophies and program theories to wade through to answer that question. Some may actually be safe and useful, but who can you trust these days? I tend to learn from those who have “been there and done that” and continue to do it because of a high success rate of most-wanted outcomes.

Get Strong Tips from Dan John

Dan John is one of the top fitness coaches, and I never miss a chance to hear him speak or read his weekly newsletters. I have learned so much from reading his materials and implementing his principles into my training and the training of others. Dan will be the first to tell you that he continues to learn from people like Pavel Tsatsouline and many others. Dan believes his tips are an “easy” way to get strong.

Following are six of his expert tips that I have integrated into my training (and the training of those I work with).

  • Lift heavy. This seems obvious, but it really is where it all begins. If you lift heavy weights to get strong, you have to challenge the system and force it to adapt. Without adaption, there will be no gain.
  • Perform the fundamental human movements. There are some variances in what is believed to be fundamental, depending on who you talk to. But I believe those movements are Squat, Hinge, Push, Pull, and Carry.
  • Keep sets and reps low. I love Dan’s “Power of 10” rule: never go over 10 total reps for any exercise. For example, 2x5, 5x2, 3x3, 6 singles, 5, 3 and 2.
  • Stop your set and workout before fatigue. Stay fresh and leave some energy for the next training session.
  • Don’t even struggle. Choose the proper load so that you can finish each rep with integrity, not sideways and crooked.
  • Never miss a rep. Choosing a load that you are 100% confident you can make can be hard for some. Most of us want to challenge the limits with every rep and set. Refrain from that for true gains.

A Challenge to Prepare for the Upcoming Powerlifting Competition

Following these tips, from time to time I will cycle in my training what Dan refers to as the 40-Workout Strength Challenge. With the NIFS 4th Annual Powerlifting Competition coming up on November 11, I wanted to share a program that I learned from Dan that added 10 pounds to my bench, 30 pounds to my squat, and 50 to my deadlift. Dan also has seen a few PRs fall in both throwing and weightlifting competitions. I am a big believer in the program’s concepts and simplicity. We are very good at overcomplicating things when it is not necessary. Here you work on fundamental movements all the time, and you make sure you hit every rep. This could be a great challenge for you leading into the competition; however, just like anything else, it might not work for everyone. Here’s the setup:

  1. Pick one exercise from the fundamental human movements described above. If competing in November is your goal, I would suggest a back squat, bench press, and deadlift. Add in a chinup and a farmer’s carry and you are good to go.
  2. Perform these exercises for the first 10 workouts every training session with varying sets and reps.
  3. Never miss a rep, and if the weight feels light, add more weight.
  4. After the first 10 workouts you can repeat them 3 additional times or make small changes to the movements every two weeks (for example, change to an incline bench, front squat, rack pulls, barbell bent-over rows, and racked carry). There are far too many examples of exercises and combinations to list here; I would suggest scheduling a personal program session with a NIFS instructor to help you out.

Here is how I set up my challenge that may help you develop yours. I can’t stress enough that this is what worked for me. It may not work for you, but it could be well worth the try.
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I found that after completing this 40-workout challenge, not only did I add pounds to my big lifts, but many of the other tasks in my life became easier. The other aspect of this challenge I really, really liked was that due to its simplicity, I can turn my brain down a bit and just lift. It provided that escape from our day-to-day tasks that I think we all need from time to time.

Sign Up for the Powerlifting Competition

The NIFS 4th Annual Powerlifting Competition is coming up on November 11, with early-bird registration starting on September 25. Be a part of this exciting celebration designed for all experience and fitness levels. You won’t regret it!

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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 weightlifting strength powerlifting

The Benefits of Logging Workouts into a Fitness App

For years, people have been setting goals and logging their workouts to help them stay on track with their health and fitness aspirations. Back in the good old days, people would bring their workout notebook and pen to the gym and write down the exercises they completed, the weather, the lift of the day, tracking personal bests, etc. Tracking workouts has never been easier with the growth in technology and wearables in the fitness industry.

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6 Advantages of Using a Fitness App

While some may still enjoy the old-school notebook method, allow me to share the benefits of using an app, like the NIFS app, to help you do the very same thing.

  • Automatic synching: Wearables directly sync with apps, so you don’t have to do anything manually. Whatever the app may be, you can usually sync your Fitbit, Garmin, or other wearable device directly to it. Then when you are in range, your workouts will automatically upload into your phone and onto the app. This makes for very simple tracking of your workouts—in fact, it’s effortless!
  • Personal accountability: No matter how committed you are to your fitness, everyone needs some personal accountability to themselves and their plan/goals. Having an app allows you to set goals and keep yourself on track to meet them in a realistic amount of time.
  • Progress: It’s no secret that as you keep yourself on track and set smaller achievable goals, you will see progress. Utilizing an app will allow you to tangibly see those progress gains as you log your new personal best.
  • Motivation: There’s nothing more motivating for the exercise logger than to write down your new heaviest lift, fastest mile, highest caloric burn, or longest workout. Logging workouts in an app and being able to look back on how far you have come and what goals you have met will keep you motivated and on track.
  • Free: We cannot forget to mention that there is no cost for an app like ours at NIFS! No purchasing an app, notebooks, or losing a box of pens a week at the gym! Simply download the app and you are ready to roll!
  • Easy: With a feature like X-capture, all you have to do is snap a photo of the console of the machine you are on or the workout you just completed on paper, and within 24 hours it will be logged into your workouts. And if you forgot to add in your workout when you were at the gym, you can always go back and add it after.

Try the NIFS App

app-button.jpgMaybe you have found your favorite app to log your workouts, whatever that may be; using a phone makes it so much easier than logging it into a notebook. If you haven’t taken time, download the NIFS app and enjoy many benefits aside from the ones that are listed above. Some of those include: using your phone to scan in at the desk, monthly challenges with great prizes, setting goals, logging workouts, utilizing deals and finding out extra things that may be going on at NIFS, and receive push notifications for important updates!

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Download the NIFS app now at the app store or Google Play!

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

Topics: NIFS fitness motivation accountability technology apps wearables

Choosing a Fitness Professional: Finding the Right One for You

Kris-52.jpgIn an industry that is constantly evolving, the world of fitness is never boring. As a fitness professional, I get a lot of questions about what I do and why I do it. Each question, although relatively complex, has a simple answer.

I chose my profession because I love to motivate, converse, educate, and be enthusiastic around other people. My passion made college classes and clinical research thrilling. I also wholeheartedly believe that a healthy lifestyle extends positively to all aspects of an individual’s life, as well as their family, friends, and coworkers. The human body is miraculous and deserves to be treated so.

The incidence and severity of disease can be decreased through regular physical activity (insert flashing neon arrows). Even so, large populations of individuals still do not have the knowledge to maintain an active lifestyle for themselves or their families as preventative action. It is my career goal to educate those individuals who might not know where to begin or how to progress, or have diminished hope, through behavioral-change goals. However, in an industry that also has many non-credible sources and educators, it is important to be able to separate the two.

Below are some of the regularly asked questions within our field and their answers to help you in choosing a fitness professional who best fits into your plan.

What Is a Fitness Professional?

The best definition of a fitness professional comes from the American College of Sports Medicine:

“A Health Fitness Professional has a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. The individual performs pre-participation health screenings, conducts physical fitness assessments, interprets results, develops exercise prescriptions, and applies behavioral and motivational strategies to apparently healthy individuals and individuals with medically controlled diseases and health conditions to support clients in adopting and maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviors. Academic preparation also can include fitness management, administration, and supervision.” (2015)

How Do You Become a Fitness Professional?

To become a fitness professional an individual must obtain a four-year degree or a graduate degree in Exercise Science, Kinesiology, Health Studies or in a health and fitness–related field. After graduating, an exam is taken through a certifying body, such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) or the National Academy for Sports Medicine (NASM). Some of the most common exams include the Certified Exercise Physiologist (formerly Health Fitness Specialist) and the Certified Personal Trainer. If an individual is in a cardiac rehab environment and obtains 400/500 hours of clinical exercise programming, the professional can then apply to take a clinical-level exam.

How Do Fitness Professionals Stay Up-to-Date?

ACSM is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world, and they continue to set the standards in the fitness industry. ACSM requires a minimum number of CECs (continuing education credits) and CEUs (continuing education units) in a three-year period to maintain certification.

NASM, a leader in providing technology-based education and certification solutions, also offers CEUs alongside specialization exams.

Alongside CECs, CEUs, and specialization exams, individuals can subscribe to additional research publications and continue to take certifying exams. Attending conferences, taking graduate classes in the field, and meeting other individuals in the industry is also a great way to network and learn from peers.

How Do I Choose a Fitness Professional That Is Right for Me?

Today, many individuals market themselves as trainers or nutritionists. When choosing an individual to work with, ask about their education and background, how many clients they have worked with, and their specializations. Working directly with an individual is similar to hiring for a job; don’t be afraid to ask for their resume or references! An individual who is qualified should happily comply.

It is also important to remember that a fitness professional is not a Registered Dietitian (RD). According to ethical guidelines, a fitness professional can discuss and provide insight into healthy alternatives but can’t develop meal plans or suggest drastic diet changes. For in-depth nutrition advice, a fitness professional should always refer to an RD. Fitness and nutrition go hand in hand, but knowing scope of practice is important.

At NIFS, we pride ourselves on providing the most well-rounded professionals for every health and wellness need. For more information on what qualifications a fitness professional should have, check out the following resources.

“Exercise is really important to me—it’s therapeutic.” —Michelle Obama

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This blog was written by Ellyn Grant, Healthy Lifestyle Coordinator. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS nutrition personal trainer exercise science certification choosing a fitness professional