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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

TRI a New Challenge This Summer—NIFS Triathlon Training Can Help!

tri-1.jpgThere are so many different types of races out there to challenge yourself with this summer. Maybe you are signed up for a Spartan Race, a trail run, or a half marathon; but have you ever considered giving a triathlon a shot? If you haven’t done one before, I can say from first-hand experience: they are challenging, but very fun!

Triathlon is the combination of swimming, biking, and running. Now most of us would say, “Okay the last two don’t sound too bad…but no way, I am not a good swimmer.” One of the biggest deterrents keeping people from going out for a tri is the swim aspect. It is true that for most this is the most intimidating part, but just like the other two events, you just have to practice and get comfortable with it! Let’s take a quick look at the three events.

Swim

The length of the tri you sign up for will determine the distance you have to swim. The swim portion is done in open water (Tri Indy does theirs in the downtown canal, and Go Girl has their swim at Eagle Creek Park). Most people are not able to train in open water, but get into the pool as much as you can before the race. Find a training plan to follow, making sure that you are getting both distance and speed work, as well as drills, in your swimming sessions. Also, if you do not have any experience in swimming, I would suggest getting a lesson or two to learn proper breathing, strokes, and efficiency in the water.

Bike

The bike portion of the triathlon is done on the road. And like the swim, the distance will depend on what race you sign up for. A common misconception is that you have to go out and spend $2,000 on a great road bike. When race day comes, you will see every shape and size of bikes! The important thing to remember is, before getting out on your bike, to make sure it’s tuned up and in good shape to ride. Then practice running with it for the transitions, ride different distances and speeds, practice shifting gears, and just get comfortable using it.

Run

For many, next to swimming this may be one of the most challenging elements of the race. Just think you have already swum and biked, and now you have to get off and run! In the beginning your legs feel like jello and your body is telling you that you can’t possibly put one foot in front of the other and keep going. But you can do it! During your training, get in some longer runs and be sure to practice some bike-then-run days as well.

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Seems like it could be a lot, but thousands of people finish triathlons every year around the world. Make 2018 your year to scratch that off the list. There are training programs out there: get one, follow it, and finish that race!

Screen Shot 2018-05-17 at 2.55.53 PM-1ATTENTION WOMEN: If you are interested in completing the 2018 Go Girl Triathlon at Eagle Creek, we have a triathlon training program at NIFS!

Early Bird Registration is happening now! Sign up before May 31st and save $10 off training!

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

Topics: NIFS running group training swimming triathlon NIFS programs summer training biking women

5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Winter Fitness on Track

GettyImages-157353513.jpgIt happens every year. As the new year rolls around, we set our new fitness goals and get excited to get started on them and “make this year the year!” But with winter still here through the end of March, many of us end up with the goal to get fit, but with no motivating factors to flip the switch in our brains to get out of hibernation mode. It gets easier in the spring and summer, when we can start to change up the environment we work out in, the workload at the office might be lighter, and there is more daylight before the sun goes down. But what do we do until then?

As someone who used to go through this same cycle myself, let me shed some light on what seems to be a depressing beginning to this blog. Although there are multiple methods to keep your winter fitness going, that can tend to become overwhelming. So I would simply like to share five things that can help keep you on track during those dark winter days.

1. Get Your Baselines

So you have a goal to get fit, but how do you know that you’ve progressed? Even if you think you know where you are in your fitness, it’s always good to get assessed; you might be further along than you thought, or you might find something you need to address before getting started.

Assessments such as the Functional Movement Screening (FMS), which takes a look at range of motion and stability before doing exercises with a load, or the Fundamental Capacity Screen (FCS), which assesses power and strength capacity, are important before starting a workout because they help you establish where your body’s abilities are currently. Scores from these assessments can also zero in on areas to improve with corrective exercises to keep that area safe from possible future injury.

Other assessments to look into include the BOD POD, to check body fat percentage, as well as the Fit3D, to get a 3D scan of all of your body’s measurements.

2. Plan Your Workouts

This one is a game changer. How many of you have walked into the gym before and wandered around pondering all of the things you “could do” that day, or jumped on one weight machine, then meandered to the next one you saw available, then found yourself ending up on a cardio machine because that seemed like the best thing to get your heart rate up for a bit? Then all of a sudden, you look at your watch and you’ve been at the gym for almost 3 hours?

Now, for those of you gym members who already plan and are training for something sport specific, don’t fret. I understand the time you carve out to fit everything in. However, for all of you who have no idea what you should do until after you walk into the gym, this is your missing link to getting the most out of your workouts.

Whether it’s a plan as simple as attending certain group fitness classes during the week, or getting with a trainer to set up a plan for you that works during your week based on your goals, a game plan for when you get to the gym will not only make you accomplish more in a shorter amount of time, but it also eliminates the excuse of not going because there’s not as much to think about anymore. For more information on how you can sit down with a trainer to get started on your FREE strategy session and get a workout plan set for you as a NIFS member, click here to contact us. For our downloadable group fitness schedule, click here.

3. Set Up Your Environment

We all know that “too cold to get out of bed today” mentality that tends to set in during those cold winter days. To combat this, set yourself up for success by setting the thermostat timer to warm your house right before you wake up, so the need to curl up and stay warm is eliminated. Maybe make a change to a more enjoyable and uplifting tune to wake you up in the right mood rather than the normal ping. Setting out your workout clothes the night before or even having them in your gym bag and already in your car will help set you up for a stress-free day.

4. Continue to Stay Hydrated

Although it might be more appealing to drink an ice-cold glass of water during the heat of summer, the need to stay hydrated is imperative all year round. Drinking water not only prevents dehydration from the dry air that winter brings; it also helps your organs and cells continue to function well, assists in regulating body temperature, and boosts your immune system to help fight off common cold and flu sicknesses.

Tracking your water is a great way to aid in staying hydrated, and there are so many tools out there to use! For me personally, if I’m drinking it out of a pretty bottle, I’m more prone to fill it up and drink more. If you’re like me, here’s a great option one company has come up with to help you track your water intake in style! Zak Designs HydraTrak water bottle is an affordable, practical, and stylish bottle that includes bands to roll up and account for every full bottle of water you drink that day.

5. Accountability, Accountability, ACCOUNTABILITY!

I saved this one for last, because although all of the above tips are just as important, having something to hold you accountable is what’s really going to set you apart from the rest and keep you on track to reach your goals.

Accountability can be molded into different forms—whatever works best for you. Some find accountability in simply writing their progress on a calendar or taking measurements along the way. Others find it in someone else who can either coach them through their journey, such as a program, or be along for the ride and have similar goals, such as a workout buddy. That’s why gyms create programs for their members, such as the NIFS programs Slim It to Win It, Mini Marathon Training, Ramp Up to Weight Loss, etc. We know how important and how empowering it is to have that extra person there with you from day one, working to reach those same goals, among all of the obstacles that life throws at us. Even more so, your coach is ready to guide you every step of the way and check in on your progress to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success! Try telling that person you stayed home from your session because "…it was cold and I just wanted to snooze a little longer before getting up.” You might rethink that snooze option on your alarm next time!

Whatever your goal might be—weight loss, triathlon training, simply staying active for three days out of the week, etc.—we all have to deal with the business and daily distractions of life. Sometimes those distractions come with setbacks…and that’s okay. What counts is having strategies in place to help you overcome those humps and keep you from falling completely off the wagon!

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This blog was written by Rebecca Heck. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: winter fitness weight loss group fitness accountability NIFS programs Slim It to Win It BODPOD functional movement Mini-Marathon Training Program new year fit3d assessment workout buddy

Game of Inches: 5 Tips to Help You Stay Committed to Your Fitness Goal

Goalnew.jpgSome people in this world are really good at staying committed to something they have started, but there are many others who struggle with meeting a goal or expectation that they have set for themselves, then actually following through with it to completion. It can be a challenge to hit those markers if you cannot seem to stay committed to something, which in turn leads to discouragement, a sense of failure, and feeling defeated.

The 5 Goal-Setting Tips

If you find yourself needing to restart your fitness plan all the time, take a few minutes to read these 5 tips that will help you to achieve what you want.

  • Track your stuff. A handful of things are lumped into this category when I say your “stuff”: food, workouts, weight, body fat, measurements, and the list goes on. Tracking fitness—where you started and what you are doing—will allow you to see progress over time and keep you committed to what you originally started.
  • Write down your goal. After you have your goal(s) written down, post it someplace that you can be reminded of it constantly, such as on the fridge, on the mirror, in the car, or at work. Find a place that it will stare you in the face and not allow you to bury it in the “someday” fitness bucket list file.
  • Establish some accountability. This looks different for each individual. Maybe it’s an actual accountability partner who is invested in your goals, or maybe it’s being accountable to yourself through writing stuff down, keeping a fitness journal, or using a fitness tracker to push yourself. Whatever it is that will keep you accountable in the times that you are struggling to get done what you need to do, be sure to find that and begin implementing it right away to see yourself succeed.
  • Join a fitness challenge. Many gyms or even wearables have fitness challenges throughout the year that you can take part in. Be sure to find one and sign up for it right away. These challenges are typically built to get you into the gym a certain number of times per week or keep you on an exercise schedule. Don’t be afraid to fail; sign up for one and keep yourself going! NIFS is currently getting ready to launch a fitness challenge called the Game of Inches. Whether your goal is putting on mass or weight loss, you can participate in this 10-week program for a chance at some cool prizes! And the best part is, you don’t even have to be a member.
  • Make it a habit. One of the best ways to ensure that you meet your personal fitness goals or expectations is to make them healthy habits. When something is a habit in your life, it’s not forgotten or pushed off to the side. Make exercise a habit in your life so that it won’t be compromised when your schedule gets hectic or your responsibilities increase.

If you have been struggling to meet your fitness goals, following these simple steps will get you back on track, and staying on track, in no time. Find out what works best for you and make it a habit.

Game-of-inches-logo.jpgNIFS’s Game of Inches Helps You Meet Your Fitness Goals

Register for Game of Inches at the NIFS track desk, complete your Fit3D scan between October 15 and 21, complete the 10 weeks of training, and scan out between December 31 and January 6. Non-members are welcome too! For $130, you receive full access to the NIFS facility for the duration of the program. 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-place prizes will be awarded for both the inch loss winner and the inch gain winner.

For questions, contact Tony Maloney: tmaloney@nifs.org.

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

Topics: fitness healthy habits goal setting weight loss accountability NIFS programs challenge tracking fitness Game of Inches

7 Reasons to Track Your Fitness Progress

We are all on a fitness journey in one way or another. With life’s hectic schedule, it’s easy to lose track of where you are and where you want to be regarding your fitness. No matter whether you are trying to lose weight, put on mass, or maintain where you are, tracking fitness progress is an essential piece of your ongoing success.

While some people track every single workout, all gains, and all food consumed in their fitness journal, others just want to get it done and go by how they feel. But with the constant change in technology, specifically in the fitness industry, tracking progress becomes easier and easier; and in fact, it can add some benefits to your training.

ThinkstockPhotos-518956980.jpgThe Benefits of Logging and Tracking

For those who regularly log and track their progress, you may not need to be convinced why you should be tracking it. But keep reading—this is still for you! And for those who don’t normally track progress, take a quick look at why it might be important to start.

  • Makes it more likely to reach and surpass your goal.
  • Allows you to be more efficient in your time and workouts.
  • Lends accountability to yourself and your goals.
  • Allows for easier modifications and shows when and where changes need to be made.
  • It can be motivating and reinforcing to remind you why you are doing what you are.
  • Helps to drive the focus and direction of your programming.
  • Keeps you committed to your plan.

How to Track Your Progress

So how do you track your progress? There are so many different ways these days that you can do this. Apps, old-school fitness journals, online fitness challenges, in-house competitions in a gym, measurements, BOD PODs, photos, assessments, and the list goes on. One of the newest innovative ways to track progress is with a Fit3D scan. This assessment can provide over 200 measurements so that over time you can track your progress, whether you’re working on weight loss or muscle building.

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

Topics: weight loss NIFS programs muscle building apps assessments tracking fitness progress

10 Winter Fitness and Wellness Tips

ThinkstockPhotos-619079130-1.jpgAs much as no one wants to admit it, the winter months are in front of us. Even though I grew up in a northern snow belt along the Great Lakes, cold weather is not my thing. In fact, I really don’t like anything about it. And often along with the winter blues comes a decrease in health and fitness due to the lack of motivation. To counteract that feeling, let’s look at ten tips that can help you be healthier this winter.

  1. Work out. I know it’s easy to lose motivation to keep working out when it’s cold out, it’s dark by 5, and you have to put on your snow boots and warm up the car before going to the gym. But working out actually helps to build your immune system and keep you healthy. So make sure that you build those workouts into your schedule.
  2. Eat well. It’s important to make sure that you stick to clean eating, especially through the holidays. All the additional sweets, snacks, drinks, and other goodies that come with the holidays are sometimes hard to resist; do your best to stay focused on your goals.
  3. Drink lots of water. Being sure that you have proper hydration is always important regardless of the time of year. Carry around a water bottle everywhere you go and make sure you keep drinking.
  4. Cover your head in outdoor workouts. If you do decide to work out outdoors, be sure to wear a hat or something to cover your ears. Making sure you stay warm and don’t catch a cold will be vital to your winter wellness success. (Here are some more tips for dressing warmly for winter workouts.)
  5. Get some sun if possible. Studies show that getting your vitamin D is essential. If you can dress appropriately, try to get outside on a nice day or plan that beach vacation during the cold winter months.
  6. Wash your hands. I know this is the standard thing you see in every public bathroom or on the back of the stall doors. But for real, wash your hands to help prevent you from getting the flu or other illnesses going around. Catching something could really set you back in getting in your workouts and healthy eating.
  7. Set a goal for the spring. Have a goal in place as the winter months start so that you can keep it on the forefront as something to work toward.
  8. Get a trainer or workout buddy. There is no better time to treat yourself to some additional accountability. Hire a trainer for the winter months or find that accountability partner to keep you in check!
  9. Watch your intake. You must be mindful, especially around the holidays, of what you are taking into your body. Also, keep in mind that drinks add a lot of unwanted calories, so watch what enters the black hole!
  10. Join something. The options are endless…group exercise, HIT classes, group training, a training program of some sort, co-ed sports…the list can go on. Find something you like and sign up to keep you engaged.

Whatever emotions the winter months may bring you, use these tips to be successful with your winter fitness and wellness!

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

Topics: NIFS winter fitness nutrition fitness center goal setting equipment group training accountability NIFS programs hydration HIT outdoors personal training wellness vitamin D

NIFS Lifestyle Rx Program Member Robyn Britt


Thanksgiving has come and gone and its time to look forward to the holiday season that is fast approaching! What better way to start, and save some cash, than with NIFS’ 9th Annual Online Auction! The Online Auction was created to help sustain scholarship opportunities for some of the members of the NIFS Lifestyle Rx Program.

The Lifestyle Rx Program provides extra guidance and observation to individuals with chronic medical concerns. A NIFS’s Lifestyle Coordinator communicates with the participant’s physician and helps plan workouts geared to his or her specific medical needs. The scholarship component of the program is determined on a needs basis and allows for some participants who are unable to work, due to their physical limitations, to come in and get the help and guidance they need at NIFS.

I would like to highlight a current member of the Lifestyle Rx Program, Robyn Britt. Please take a few moments to watch the video and listen to Robyn's journey!


Screen Shot 2016-11-28 at 3.03.09 PM.png


Auction Information

Our Online Auction begins Friday November 25 and runs through Monday December 19 at 11:00pm. There are a lot of great items that everyone can enjoy so be sure to get your bid on today!

AuctionImage.jpgFor questions about the Lifestyle Rx Program please contact Rebecca Newbrough at 317-274-3432 ext. 263  rnewbrough@nifs.org.

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


 

Topics: exercise motivation weight loss member NIFS programs health lifestyle

From Mini-Marathon Participant to Ironman: NIFS Leader Nick Iaria

Nick-Before.jpgnick-after.jpgLongtime NIFS Mini-Marathon Program leader Nick Iaria shares his personal story about the NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program, his fitness changes, and his path to completing an Ironman triathlon.

How long have you been involved in the NIFS Mini-Marathon Program, and what made you decide to join?

I joined in 2009 as a participant, not a leader. I was a part of the run/walk group, and up to that point in my life had never completed a distance over 5 miles. Since 2010 I have been a group leader in the run/walk group and have transitioned to different time-specific groups over the years (11-minute, 10-minute, etc.).

I found out about the program from my then girlfriend, now wife, who was an intern at NIFS, and she was joining as a run/walk leader. I think I joined not just because of her, but because I was interested in finding out if I could do it. I don’t think I would have just gone out of my way to train for it on my own. I needed the knowledge and experience that NIFS gave in the training program format to get me started.

Since being a part of the program you have gone from the run/walk group to, in 2017, leading the 8:30 pace group. How did you manage to increase your speed?

I would like to say I did X and then Y and that led me to Z, but that isn’t how it worked. I am not sure what path got me here, but I think I just had a desire to improve and to continue just for the purpose of continuing. I do think that a large improvement came in the form of my mental training over the years that became a critical step in enhancing my physical development, which led to an increase in speed. It was never really my goal to get to a certain pace or speed; it just kind of happened.

Another key ingredient is core body strength. By improving the strength of my midsection and upper legs over the past two years, it has helped in pushing through the “I want to slow down” or “full-out quit” moments. The mental/physiological improvements I have made within myself—where I believe more in myself and I learn to listen to my body and learn from past mistakes during runs or events where I didn’t do the right things along the way—has been a key part of my success. I don’t take anything as a failure, just a learning opportunity for the next time.

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FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAM AND GET REGISTERED TODAY!

EARLY BIRD PRICING THROUGH NOVEMBER 29, 2016!

 

 

Why do you enjoy running?

Until recently I have never considered myself a runner; I always considered myself a jogger. However, the stronger and longer I go, the more I feel like a runner. I enjoy it because I can do it whenever (early morning, evening, etc.) and wherever (outside in the elements or inside on a treadmill, etc.). I don’t need anything besides a good pair of shoes and sometimes some good music to get me started or keep me going. It is something I can do alone or with other people. It is versatile as I can go different speeds or distances, and it is easy to track both with different forms of technology so I can track my results as I go.

Last year you were a Mini-Marathon Ambassador. What did that mean, and why do you love the Mini-Marathon so much?

I felt really honored to be a part of the program’s first year. There was an amazing group of 32 other people from all walks of life with different Mini experiences. Getting to interact with them and being able to help others who had questions or needed advice on the Mini made this year’s race that much better when I rang the PR bell at the finish.

My love for it came with my first time back in 2009. I was in a car accident (not my fault) 2.5 weeks before the race and had 5 stitches put in my knee. They were taken out the Monday of race week. I went back and forth all week about whether I should even do it, and that went all the way up to the morning of the race. For some reason I thought I could deal with the pain and still go out and run/walk the full 13.1 miles, but only made it through 4 miles. I knew I had to walk in order to finish and I WAS GOING TO FINISH. Walking the next 9 miles was really fun (and a bit painful) to be walking and interacting with all the different walkers and groups on the side of the road/track cheering us all on. My experience would have been different if I wasn’t walking and taking it all in. Plus, I ended up posing for one of the photographers on the track and ended up on one of the 2010 Mini advertisement posters, so that was an unintended perk, too.

What advice do you have for individuals just starting out or thinking about training for a half marathon?

If it is something that interests you or if you are looking to see how far you can push yourself, I know that feeling. I went way outside my comfort zone recently when I signed up for a full Ironman triathlon (that’s 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, and 26.2 miles of running). It was way outside my comfort zone since I had never swum that far, never biked that far, and had only completed 26.2 miles twice previously at an average completion time of around 6 hours, and it was a struggle just completing the 26.2 miles, so combining all those into one day seemed unattainable. But I told myself there is only one way to find out, and with the support of my friends and family, I signed up, got a triathlon training program, and on October 9 I reached my goal and crossed the finish line.

So, that is my advice: If you are thinking about it, then you probably already want to do it, but just need that confidence or something that helps you to convince yourself that you can reach that goal. I know that you can do it, no matter your level of experience or age. I would say join a program like I did when I joined the NIFS program back in 2009. It will help in learning what to do and when to do it, plus it will help provide that accountability from start to finish for you. The finish line doesn’t care if you run, jog, walk, or roll across it; it only cares that you cross it.

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Congratulations, Nick, on a wonderful accomplishment! And thank you for your continued dedication to the NIFS Mini-Marathon and 5K Training Program. If you have been thinking about competing in the Mini-Marathon or any other spring half-marathon, or training for a 5K, registration is now open for these NIFS programs. Sign up here!

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

Topics: NIFS running triathlon mini marathon NIFS programs 5k Mini-Marathon Training Program Ironman

High Intensity Training (HIT): No Pain, No Gain

HIT-6.jpgIf you have ever participated in High Intensity Training (HIT), you will quickly discover what separates this style of workout from other popular styles you may know, like super sets or pyramid training. The main intention behind high intensity training workouts is that the workout will challenge your body to such a level of discomfort that its threshold or maximum capacity has no choice but to rise. Now don’t let the word “such a level of discomfort” scare you away; it’s the discomfort level that we all feel during exercise at some point, and of course you can push past it.

The Importance of Pushing Past the Pain

During resistance training, you will at some point begin to experience a level of discomfort. This happens because lactic acid begins to be produced by muscles during intense exercise bouts, which causes muscle fatigue. Although lactic acid may slow down muscle productivity and intensity, it does not mean you have reached muscle failure and are unable to continue. Quite honestly, this means your set is just now starting (if you want to bring down barriers and advance to the next level). Most individuals get to this point of discomfort and stop their set. However, if you stop here, you are more than likely not pushing your body past its threshold point, which is important in order to increase muscle strength, endurance, and even hypertrophy (muscle building).

Specifically, in high intensity style training, most often you will reach that lactate threshold and then be pushed beyond that. Just when you think that your body can go on no longer, you dig deep within yourself and the encouragement of your teammates and find that new level. And this is why we see so many success stories in people who attend HIT workouts. They push beyond what their bodies thought they could do, past the threshold, resulting in an increase in muscle strength and endurance.

hit-high-res-logo-web-new.jpgHow NIFS Can Help

If you need help discovering what those new levels are, and some accountability to keep pushing, then I invite you to try NIFS’s High Intensity Training. Our classes are designed to motivate you to push past the limits you think are there by utilizing short bouts of high intensity work, which will increase your body’s thresholds, causing an increase of metabolism. We use our training expertise to provide the necessary motivation to close the gap between you and your body’s threshold. Once you reach this threshold, we will teach you how to tap into that next level to take your workouts to the next step on the ladder of success!

We invite you to come experience a good workout, a good team feeling, and a good environment where each participant has the same goal: to get better! Get your first session for FREE by contacting Tony Maloney at tmaloney@nifs.org.

Yes! I want to try a HIT class!

This blog was written by Darius Felix, Health Fitness Instructor. Click here for more information about the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS cardio motivation group training accountability NIFS programs muscles resistance strength HIT pain high intensity muscle building strength training

The First Rule of NIFS Barbell Club: Talk About Barbell Club

Today marks the beginning of our Barbell Club here at NIFS. This is a free Olympic and Powerlifting program for anyone who is looking to:

  • barbell.jpgImprove performance of one or multiple lifts
  • Improve technique
  • Learn the basics about the lifts
  • Do all of the above
You may have years of experience with these different types of lifts, or you may never have attempted or thought about attempting them in your life. Regardless, everyone can benefit from what the program has to offer. As NIFS coaches, we have great experience coaching these movements in safe and effective ways that take you through the progressions. The importance of this is paramount due to the fact that the ballistic nature of many of the movements requires injury prevention. When you think about weightlifting in terms of a food chain, Olympic and Powerlifting are the king of the jungle.

What Movements Will You Learn?

Here are the movements that may be coached during your session:

  • IMG_7315.jpgClean (Hang or Power)
  • Clean and Jerk
  • Snatch
  • Deadlift
  • Squat
  • Bench Press
How Can Barbell Club Help You?

As one of the coaches of the NIFS Barbell Club, my plan is to help out with any individual questions that members may have. If you’ve been around these lifts in the past, you know that there are many details that go into making the movement safe and successful. One of my favorite tools to use is slow-motion video. Many people have done these lifts for years and have never seen themselves do it on video. This can give you an idea of your bar path as well as visual cues with posture (head/foot position, and spine angle).

Another tool that can help you achieve your goals will be advice in programming. You may have been working on a lift for months and have made steady progress but have recently plateaued. Where do you go from there? After ensuring that your technique looks sound, my next goal would be to give you a few ideas on other lifts that you can perform to improve the main lift. For instance, you want to improve your snatch and have failed for the past 2 weeks at 93kg. Instead of continuously failing at 93, how about adding a few sets of “snatch pulls” at that trouble weight or even higher? This will help your body start to adapt to handling that amount of weight.

Can New Powerlifters Join?

But what if you have never attempted to do any Olympic or Powerlifting movement? Are you still allowed to attend? Absolutely! Beginners are my favorite individuals to instruct in these techniques because they have no preconceived notion of what the lift is supposed to be. We will help you learn the basics of the movement and let the session lead to wherever it may. As a beginner, the goal is not to be doing a full snatch or clean and jerk on day 1. More than likely, you will not be able to absorb enough knowledge within that one-hour session to do that. Instead, our goal is to build the foundational movement pattern that will allow you to excel in future training sessions.

No matter your experience level, come give Barbell Club a shot. Did I mention that IT’S FREE? You have nothing to lose and a wealth of knowledge to gain!

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

Topics: NIFS group training NIFS programs injury prevention weightlifting safety personal training powerlifting

Weightlifting Gear: Equipment to Enhance Training—or Ego?

lifting.jpgThere are numerous different products on the market now that are supposed to help improve your strength training. From lifting belts to Mark Bell’s patented Slingshot, there is more gear available now than ever. For a novice lifter, the multitude of available products will probably just leave your head spinning. What is actually helpful and what is just a moneymaker? Here is my take on some of the most popular products out there.

Lifting Belts

There are some products that I will advise most lifters to stay away from, but this is not one of them! A lifting belt is imperative to a good strength training regimen. Any kind of substantial load for a squat or a deadlift is going to put a lot of pressure into your abdominal cavity, as well as onto your spine. A lifting belt acts as a brace when the lifter takes in a large breath and pushes their abdomen out into the belt. This ensures that the spine stays stable in place and has nowhere to go, resulting in a much-reduced risk of injury. This piece of equipment is the first that I would recommend purchasing for any new lifter, especially if you are thinking about competing in powerlifting.

Not sure if you want to compete? Try it out at the annual NIFS Powerlifting Competition! It is a great starter meet to get your feet wet and see what competition is all about.

Olympic Lifting Shoes

You have probably seen or heard of lifting shoes before. They have an elevated heel and make a nice, loud “SMACK” sound on the platforms at NIFS during a properly executed Olympic lift. These shoes can be helpful for more than just Olympic lifting, though. They can be very helpful for front and back squats (depending on your body type). If you have the right body type (usually tall and lanky), these shoes will create better leverage for you to squat more efficiently. The elevated heel actually shifts your center of gravity forward just a slight bit, which allows the squatter to sit backwards and reach “good depth” easier.

These shoes can be somewhat costly for students. Try to find a good deal on a pair of lifters if you are strapped for cash. The more expensive pairs (Nike Romaleos) can run up to $250 or $300, but Adidas makes a similar shoe that you can find for around $75. If you are not an Olympic competitor, there is not much need to spend a couple hundred dollars on these shoes.

Mark Bell’s Slingshot

So, we have looked at an “almost necessary” product and a “nice to have, but don’t totally need” product. Here is an example of a “don’t really need at all” product. Mark Bell’s Slingshot is a highly elastic band with two arm sleeves on the side, which, once you put the Slingshot on, causes the elastic band to stretch across your chest. Basically, this tool allows the lifter to handle heavier loads on the bench press than they normally could. The few advantages to this product are

  • Less shoulder pain for those with very severe shoulder issues
  • Overloading the bench press with above-maximal weight
  • Frankly, loading your ego by seeing how much you can bench when using it

If you’re thinking I am just hating on Mark Bell or his product without just cause, please reconsider. I am a big fan of Mark and his no-nonsense business style. He knows what his product is for and to whom he should market it. I even have a Slingshot of my own! That being said, I think there are too many young lifters who buy his products just because they see him as an idol and they want to be like him in any way possible. The Slingshot is a tool that can be utilized by experienced lifters, and it can be helpful. But, for the beginner lifter, this product will almost certainly do you more harm than good.

Start with the Basics

There is a time and place for most lifting products, but most of them are not needed until you are way down the road to being competitive. Start with the basic products that will benefit you, not confuse you. A lifting belt is a great product to start with, and possibly a pair of lifting shoes. Do your research about all lifting products and try to determine which ones will work the best for you. I urge you to not just buy any of these products on a whim, thinking that they have to help you because somebody famous said so.

For more information on lifting gear, or lifting heavy weights in general, contact Cara Hartman at chartman@nifs.org. Cara runs the LIFT program at NIFS and has some great expertise to share with you!

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


Topics: equipment NIFS programs injury prevention weightlifting powerlifting strength training