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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Which Fitness Assessment Is Right for Me? Part 2: Functional Movement Screen (FMS)

FMS-New.jpgMaximize Your Workout with the Functional Movement Screen at NIFS

Everyone wants to move better, to maximize their potential in their workouts, and to be free of any aches and pains that linger in the body. Some of these issues within the body can stem from imbalances between your right and left sides. Or maybe the issues lie within your mobility (the ability of your body to move freely and easily) or stability (the ability to stay balanced in both static and dynamic movement). We all compensate with movement even though we feel like we are moving “normally.”

However, the good news is that the majority of these things are fixable through corrective exercises. So where do we go from here? How do we figure out what those imbalances are and what to do to get better?

An Assessment of Limitations and Imbalances

The answer is to start with a Functional Movement Screen, or FMS. The FMS will take you through seven basic movement patterns that encompass all movement and exercise. The FMS certified trainers are looking for different things within each of the seven tests to help them score the assessment and understand what is going on in the body. And don’t let the word tests or assessments scare you off; the FMS is designed for all ability levels and ages! From the elite athlete in the NFL to the everyday exerciser, the FMS will help to identify functional limitations and imbalances in each individual.

Watch this video for a quick look at the FMS.

Get Your List of Exercises

Then what? Great question! Now it’s time to get your list of corrective exercises. You will then be entered into a database called FMS360. With this, you can have full access to your scores from the screen, exercises that are safe for you to keep doing, things that you should steer clear of until you earn a better score, and exercises that will help you work to correct those imbalances. Our trainers can also help you through how to correctly perform the exercises that are given to you.

The secret to success: You must consistently do the correctives! These exercises are simple and easily can be added into a warmup as you prepare for your workout. Stay on top of them and don’t let days go by without completing them; it’s only for the betterment of your movement!

The FMS will allow you to move as you should. No matter where you are in your training plan, I would highly encourage you to get one now, improve your movement efficiency, and reduce the risk of injury.

To schedule your FMS, call the NIFS track desk at 317-274-3432 or email fitness@nifs.org.

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

Topics: NIFS workout exercises mobility functional movement assessments

The Challenge with Challenges: NIFS Slim It to Win It 2018

Slim-It-logo2.jpgIt’s that time of year when millions of people around the world start looking for that next “best” thing to give them the body they have always dreamed of. Aggressive physical challenges, cleanses, elaborate diets that usually involve the removal of a food source (and result in you craving it even more); people will take some drastic steps to help erase the past year of poor nutrition and lifestyle decisions.

Unfortunately, the successes of these different “new year, new you” initiatives are short-lived, and many people will be looking again for another fix a year from now. Why is this so? I can list many reasons why weight-loss challenges don’t work and do not provide long-term, sustainable results. In a previous post I explained why mindset is crucial to fitness success, so it truly starts there. But what are some other reasons why New Year challenges don’t deliver? Most are…

  • Too much
  • Too fast
  • Too easy to quit

Many contests or challenges demand that you take too much out of your diet or exercise way too much. They also usually want to see these changes made and results achieved too fast. Lastly, many fail to provide ample accountability, encouragement, and motivation, making it too easy to quit. So does this mean that all contests, challenges, or programs are doomed to fail? Not if they are done right!

Slim It to Win It is one of NIFS’ longest-running programs, and has been helping so many people for just shy of a decade. We here at NIFS are super proud of the life-changing results that SITWI has been able to provide hundreds of individuals here in the Indianapolis area. So how do we do it?

Not Too Much

NIFS coaches focus on small behavioral changes piled onto one another during an 8–10-week period. We don’t want anyone changing too much too fast; that is proven to be an unsuccessful practice. Focusing on one or maybe two changes at a time is a proven method that we teach our teams. Slow and steady wins the race, and we want to provide our people with the tools to continue building a healthy lifestyle long after they have completed the program.

Too much exercise, especially from the get-go (and with those who might have been less than active leading up to the program), is another mistake our coaches do not make. With two training sessions a week to start, with supplemental workouts provided, our teams get the right dose of exercise at the right time.

Not Too Fast

Once again we focus on sustainable changes and results over the course of eight weeks and beyond. The journey is not over on March 11; it’s really just beginning. NIFS coaches work toward the individual’s specific goals over many weeks—not pushing to see drastic changes in a very short amount of time. It’s just not safe, and it just doesn’t last!

When the focus is more on speed, retention of critical lifestyle practices and education will suffer, leading to the “cramming effect.” Do you remember cramming for that chemistry exam in high school? If you are anything like me and most people, you probably didn’t retain a great deal of that information. We want our team members to keep the life-changing information so they can continue to use these best practices to maintain their success.

Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 9.39.17 AM.pngNot Too Easy to Quit

Positive accountability truly is a key ingredient in a successful lifestyle-change process. A strong support group will provide the needed accountability and motivation to keep at it, even when you want to hang it up and return to old behaviors that got you in the situation you are in. During SITWI, you have a whole team cheering you on and providing support, because everybody is going through a similar battle.

A group of motivated, like-minded individuals can be unstoppable in the pursuit of its goals. Not only will you be relying on your team to pick you up at times, they are going to need you right back. And speaking from experience, there is no better feeling than when you make a difference in someone’s life, or help them see their true capabilities. You can be that to someone!

The idea of a New Year, starting over, or making some improvements can be very exciting. This excitement can lead to creating real change or a repeat of the past, keeping you in the cycle of thinking it will be better next year. Remember, mindset matters most, but a strong call to make changes followed by taking action to create that change are the next best steps. Let Slim It to Win It help you take action.

Learn More about Slim It to Win It

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

Topics: NIFS motivation weight loss accountability challenge Slim It to Win It behavior lifestyle change

NIFS December Group Fitness Class of the Month: PiYo

Piyo_2017.jpgI know what you’re thinking: PiYo…sounds like some contortionist/new yoga trend, doesn’t it? Only for the truly flexible mind-body gurus, right? On the contrary, PiYo—our NIFS Group Fitness Class of the Month—has made its mark over the last 10 years in the fitness world, and its actual format just might surprise you.

PiYo, by definition, combines the muscle-sculpting benefits of Pilates with the core-strengthening and stretching benefits of yoga. While this fusion format combines two classes that are normally slower paced, what sets PiYo apart is the speed in which the class moves. Instead of holding static poses, you continuously move from one position to the next, creating a solid flow of exercises plus a cardiovascular component that speeds up the flow of moves to more dynamically work and strengthen.

From the Beachbody Creator

PiYo was created by celebrity trainer Chalene Johnson, also known for other best-selling workouts such as Turbo Jam, Turbo Kick, TurboFire, and Chalean Extreme. She created the program after experiencing aches and pains and then later injuries after a long period of teaching group fitness classes. After seeking a doctor’s advice, she was directed to the realization that her body was too tight and that her flexibility was nonexistent.

Chalene wanted to have a workout to offer to individuals who want to work on those often forgotten yet crucial aspects of fitness that translate to our everyday life and impact our habitual mobility techniques later as we age. These aspects include dynamic flexibility, balance, stability, and bodyweight strength. Using your body as your weights, PiYo instructs you through multiple series of moves to challenge your strength, harness your core, and get you sweating within the first five minutes.

The Workout Format

The full format consists of 10 songs (11 songs as an option for more recent releases), and runs for 60 minutes, but feel free to build yourself up with a smart start approach, in which you simply start with the first few tracks and complete what you can and simply build on one additional track from there on your next visits back. Then, depending on how consistent you are in taking the class on a regular basis, your endurance will build to complete the whole class.

The track format consists of the following:

  • Warm Up
  • Heat Building
  • Lower Body
  • Full-Body Fusion
  • Power
  • Flow Right
  • Flow Left
  • Flow Fusion (Optional)
  • Core & More
  • Stretch & Strength
  • Cooldown

A Low-Impact Workout

As a PiYo Live instructor myself, one of my favorite components of the format is that it was primarily created to be a non-impact workout. For those of you who currently experience those aches and pains, low-impact workouts are what you should be looking for.

If you have ever taken the class, you will find that there are options to jump during some of the tracks for extra intensity; but again, those are always optional, and all of the moves are derived from working from the ground up. Even a chair can be used as an option if you have trouble getting down to the floor!

What do I mean by all of this? Simple. PiYo is great for EVERYONE—for all levels, and for all ages. Plus, the music selection is always fun and motivating for each section, which in turn sets you up to finish and leave class feeling worked, fully stretched, and accomplished.

For more information on PiYo and when NIFS offers it, check out our group fitness schedule. Or click here for information on how to take your first group fitness class for FREE!

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This blog was written by Rebecca Heck, Group Fitness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS group fitness workouts flexibility core bodyweight Beachbody Group Fitness Class of the Month PiYo

How Does TRX Help Your Workout? Try It at NIFS!

TRX-3.jpgStarting from the ground up might sound like a daunting task, but with TRX it is possible. The TRX, which can be done as a group or individual, allows its user to perform various movement patterns with varying degrees of difficulty, all while using only body weight as resistance and a routine of exercises assigned to help you reach your goals.

The Equipment

The setup, designed by former US Navy Seal Randy Hetrick in 1995, is comprised of two straps, two handles, two cam buckles for adjustments, and a locking loop for safety. The equipment can be set up nearly anywhere, including but not limited to a TRX frame, a tree branch, or a sturdy piece of furniture. The unit is rather transportable and easy to set up. With that being said, it would seem to be the most ideal piece of equipment for home exercise and gym use. Although this is true, there still is a small learning curve, which you can easily overcome with some practice.

Adjusting Intensity and Difficulty Level

When you examine the exercises, you discover that the majority of them utilize angles to both increase and decrease intensity and level of difficulty. Furthermore, relying on the handles more and more can make things much easier. When it’s time to up the workload, you can grip the handles less (which requires you to utilize more body strength to get through the exercise).

When we program a TRX exercise into your routine or in a class, we would expect that at any time someone might need a regression or a progression, so there isn’t really a reason to stop or quit—just readjustments to help you keep moving!

How to Get the Most from this Equipment

Like all equipment, there are ways to best utilize this tool to get the most out of your time. When you understand that the difficulty level is determined by balance, stability, and angles, making just a few adjustments can really help you get a better workout.

Here are some tips that may also enhance your workout.

  • Do not allow any slack in the straps. The constant tension will force you to be in control while working through your movements.
  • Practice good form by having the straps as an aid. If you are having trouble with proper form at the bottom end of your squats due to ankle mobility or posterior chain flexibility, use it to help you move into and out of precarious instances where typically you would be uncomfortable. Once you are able to do the movements proficiently, try them again without the TRX and then eventually with a weight load.
  • Add an exercise to a workout circuit. To mix it up and give you a great workout, the versatility and multitude of exercises allows you to change exercises, sets, reps, and intensity at a moment’s notice.

Most floor exercises with a TRX are more challenging due to the idea that you are using more energy to keep good form (including core muscles).

Try It in Group Fitness Classes at NIFS

What exercises have you tried? The group fitness classes offered at NIFS are for everybody. Your Fitness Specialist can modify an exercise if you aren’t ready for it or if you need a little more of a challenge. The classes also offer variety to help enhance your own “exercise library,” which will ultimately lead to more confidence. Remember that your exercises can vary from person to person, but as long as you can continue to challenge yourself, your body will continue to develop and become stronger.

Whether you are trying to improve form or get a total-body, no-nonsense workout, the TRX is an adaptable and highly useful tool you can use along the way. NIFS offers free classes weekly to help guide your workouts. If you still aren’t convinced, contact a NIFS Fitness Specialist to discuss ways we can help you reach your goals.

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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 Thomas' Corner equipment group fitness resistance workout TRX body weight

Staying Well in the Winter: Tips for Cold-weather Wellness

GettyImages-613030648.jpgWinter is fast approaching; it officially begins on Thursday, December 21. With temperatures getting colder and the weather conditions more temperamental, it’s important to plan ahead to stay on top of your wellness goals. Distractions are inevitable during the holidays, but anticipating them and reacting accordingly will set you apart from most individuals during this season. See our tips below to help combat being sidelined this season

  • Plan ahead. Parties and gatherings are part of the fun of the season, but may throw a wrench into your normal schedule. Take a look at your calendar at least once a week and schedule in your workouts beforehand. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
  • Grab a friend. Not feeling motivated? Partnering up to exercise is a great way to create accountability while also enjoying hanging out with your friends. Try a new class or step out of your comfort zone.
  • Dress appropriately. If you don’t want to be stuck inside during the cold weather, make sure to wear the proper gear. Check out this article about winter running wear to determine whether your winter workout wardrobe needs an upgrade, and then see these other tips for preparing for a winter run.
  • Write down your goals. In addition to having a workout partner, do some goal setting, and post them somewhere visible—like the fridge!
  • Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep. If you are starting to feel run-down, it is extremely important to make sure you are getting a sufficient amount of sleep. Lack of sleep reduces the amount of antibodies and cells that fight disease and infection.
  • Take advantage of seasonal activities. No time to fit in the gym? Stay active in your events! Try ice skating, cutting down your own Christmas tree, or walking around a holiday market.

Most importantly, remember to enjoy the season and surround yourself with friends and family. Creating a well-rounded exercise program will help you stay on top of your goals while still taking advantage of seasonal festivities. Have questions? A NIFS trainer can help set you up for success!

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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 goal setting holidays accountability winter wellness cold weather

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 group fitness 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