NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Time Under Tension: Slowing Down Movement to Speed Up Fitness Results

ThinkstockPhotos-177455750.jpgOne of the major misconceptions I am happy to battle as a fitness professional is the wildly popular idea that if a little is good, more must be better. One of my favorite quotes from movement guru Grey Cook is, “More is not better; better is better.” It is a motto I strive to live by in my fitness world as well as my personal life.

So if more is not always better, why do so many continue to focus on how many reps, and usually how quickly they can complete them, with the hope of getting stronger and prepping the physique for the upcoming spring break? I guess I can’t blame them; when it comes to getting those physical results, volume does play a role; however, there are more ways to create the volume stimuli than simply 100 reps of everything as fast as you can.

So what are we talking about here, slowing down? Exactly! I know that can be a hard concept to grasp for many, but creating time under tension (TUT) or slowing things down can actually do more than twice the volume in a “reppy” workout. TUT simply refers to the time that a muscle is under load or under strain during a set of a particular exercise. Brad Schoenfeld, PhD, suggests you can achieve this with a heavy load for several seconds or lighter loads for a minute. This is definitely not a new concept, but it seems to have come and gone like a lot of fitness concepts due to something else becoming the next big thing in fitness, like the 6-minute abs. But TUT is worth keeping in the programming conversation because of the multitude of benefits that result from the concept of creating tension to build strength and muscle size.

Four Reasons to Slow It Down

We will discuss some examples of how to get some more TUT into your workout later, but here are four reasons you should keep tension in mind when you train.

  • Mindful movement: Although we use fitness and exercise for health, wellness, physique, and other reasons, exercise can and should be used for creating a mind at peace. I know that I use exercise to reconnect with both my body and the environment; exercise and movement can be spiritual. But being in the moment, or in this sense, the rep, is important. I think we get too caught up in getting things done so quickly that we miss most of the enjoyment of why we move in the first place. This is also a great time to practice proper breathing techniques throughout your movement and training session. Proper breathing throughout a movement will help in alignment, neuromuscular control, and overall enjoyment of the exercise. Concentrate on what you are doing and be in that moment; you will feel the difference.
  • Motor control/Movement enhancement: Enhancing specific movement patterns should be atop your “to-do” list when you head to the gym. If you don’t know how you are doing with movement patterns, I suggest scheduling a Functional Movement Screen with a NIFS instructor. This will provide you with the necessary information about how you are moving. We use TUT in this sense to aid in developing and maintaining motor control of a particular pattern. Holding a certain position for a period of time, slowly moving through a pattern, and pausing to complete deep breaths are ways your brain can make the connection of what a pattern should feel like. This will also allow you to “press save” on the pattern you are working on. So next time you are doing some goblet squats, pause at the bottom and take a deep breath (5 seconds in through your nose and 8 seconds out through your mouth), and then stand to complete the rep and help upgrade your movement software.
  • Muscle hypertrophy: Muscle tension created through resistance training stimulates the growth of new muscle proteins, making your muscles bigger, a process called hypertrophy. Simply put, lifting weights at a certain rate of time under tension will elicit different rates of hypertrophy. Generally speaking, when you are looking at rep counts per set, 3–6 reps = strength and power, 8–12 reps = hypertrophy, and 15+ reps = endurance. For hypertrophy (and there are different schools of thought on this point), 60–90 seconds a set will provide an optimal stimulus to promote muscle synthesis. What do you need to know? Volume and time under load is what will get those muscles bigger, given that the load you choose allows for greater volume. So if getting bigger muscles is your goal, slow it down and make each rep count.
  • Adding a new challenge: If you have ever tried to either hold a position for a period of time or complete a bodyweight exercise as slowly as you can, you know how much more challenging that exercise becomes. Not only will TUT provide the above benefits, but it will add a huge challenge to the movements and exercises in your training sessions. If you are looking for something new, don’t look too far; just slow down a bench press or a bodyweight squat, or anything you are currently doing. It will change everything, and the challenge will go through the roof. And that soreness that you feel the next day and probably the day after is your body telling you that you created enough stimuli to promote growth! Ultimately, that’s what we want, right?

How to Add TUT into Your Workouts

Here are some movements that will add more time under tension when you exercise.

  • Isometric holds: To increase TUT, add movements that rely on creating more tension. Isometric holds are a great place to start. Examples of these movements are planks, static squats and split squats, and static TRX rows. As I mentioned above, pick a movement and hold the position at the most difficult portion of the movement. These exercises are usually timed and start with a short amount of time and progressively build up.
  • Tempo reps: With this method, you slow down both the eccentric (lengthening) and concentric (shortening) phases of the movement. Typically 3–6 seconds per phase will increase the load on the muscle group being worked. Take the TRX row, for example; here Thomas would lower his body for 3 seconds and pull his body back up for 3 seconds for 8–12 reps, increasing his time under tension. You could go even more slowly for a super-slow set to muscular failure as another option of tempo reps.
  • Hypertrophy sets and reps: As stated above, to promote hypertrophy in a particular muscle group, a solid set and rep range is 3 x 8–10 with a tempo of 3:3 (total rep time of :6) for each movement. This is not fancy, but it will get the job done if you are hoping to increase size. So keep it simple and slow it down a little bit.

No matter whether you are looking to enhance your movement, muscle building to get those biceps ready for the beach, or find more joy and fulfillment in your exercise, slowing down can help get you there. If you need some assistance on how to implement TUT into your workout routine, schedule your free personal training session with a NIFS instructor today.

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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: exercise fitness center workouts muscles muscle building functional movement

Bored of Your Workout Program? Try a “Wild-Card” Week

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 2.12.51 PM.pngWe’ve all done it. New lifters, old lifters—everyone has experienced that week where your normal training program just doesn’t have the same motivation for you that it did in the past. Monday is chest-tri day, Tuesday is squat, Wednesday is back-bi, so on and so forth. No one is immune to this feeling, especially if you are as religious about following your program as many of the NIFS members are.


Would You Eat the Same Food for Every Meal?

Think about it in terms of food. Do you eat the exact same thing for each meal every day of the week? Some might, but I can guarantee it’s not the most enjoyable thing in the world. However, most people approach planning meals for the week with a slight variation on the meals they prepared the week before: similar main ingredients, but maybe with a different spice or two, which will make a world of a difference. (Mmmmmm, food. I’m getting hungry, so let’s get back to training.)

But what causes this? Why do you all of a sudden just not feel like doing your program for that day or week? The most obvious answer is the fact that you may have been on this program for multiple weeks. Mentally, you are drained from the regimen, and your body is telling you that it might be time to change it up.

I think this is one of the most common training mistakes. Your body is ready for a new challenge or stimulus, but you tell yourself to suck it up and do the same program for another two months. You have seen progress that you’ve made (and recently stalled) with that program and have a hard time thinking you will find anything better. I think many individuals stick to the same program for way too long. This leads to other weeks where you just don’t feel like completing what is assigned for that day.

How to Overcome Workout Boredom

So what do you do, decide to take a week off of training? Not recommended. What I do recommend is to have what I call a wild-card week. In a wild-card week, you choose exercises that work similar movements/muscles to what your normal program targets, but with different (or more fun) exercises.

Here are four typical exercise choices with a “wild” variation to each.


 

 

Remember, your training program should be enjoyable. That is what keeps bringing you back each week. Listen to your body when it is time to switch it up and don’t be afraid to add in a wild-card week to your workouts every once in a while!

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This blog was written by Alex Soller, Health Fitness Instructor and Athletic Performance Coach. Click here for more information about the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS fitness center motivation workouts attitude training focus programs

Step: Welcome to a New LEVEL of Fitness!

Whether you are 18 or 80, man or woman, looking to lose weight or simply maintain, step aerobics just might be the perfect addition to your fitness program! Have you ever considered taking a step class? Perhaps you have found yourself thinking, “I’m not coordinated enough,” or “Step is too intense for me (or not intense enough”). Well, give me two minutes to change your mind.

Step Burns CaloriesStep-web.jpg

The bottom line is, stepping up and down off a raised platform burns calories. In fact, it burns A LOT of calories. According to Self Magazine (July 2012, page 101), stepping up and down off a raised platform burns more calories than doing jumping jacks, split lunges, power squats, or speed skating for the same length of time. Great way to lose weight? YES! Great way to maintain weight? YOU BET!

Anyone Can Do Step

Maybe you are thinking that you lack the coordination required to do step. But the reality of it is, if you can march in place, you can do step. The basic step is just that: basic. Up, up, down, down. Of course that move would get pretty boring pretty quickly, so we add music, rhythm, and variations on that basic move. While it helps to have a little rhythm (can you clap your hands to the beat of a song?), anyone can step. It may take a few classes to really get the hang of it, but it is quite do-able, and FUN! Don’t be intimidated!

There is a first time for everything. At some point, every single person in the class, including the instructor, attended their very first step class. I am not gonna lie, you probably won’t pick up every single thing the first class you take. But let’s face it: What would be the fun of mastering it in the first hour? Half the fun is seeing yourself improve on the step, seeing your cardiovascular fitness level improve, and becoming more efficient overall (doing more work with less effort). Step will get you there!

You Can Adjust the Intensity LevelStepIS

You may be thinking that step would be too hard or too intense for you. While step is designed to be a challenging cardio workout, the intensity level can be adjusted in a number of ways to meet the needs of each participant. The height of the platform is not uniform; with use of individual risers at each end, the platform can be set as low as just a few inches off the floor (or as high as 8 to 12 inches).

Another easy adjustment, which your instructor will show you, is to limit your range of movement with each step. As you become more comfortable with the format, you will be able to add intensity by increasing range of motion with the steps, and by adding arm movements to further increase your heart rate. Because of this, the challenge never ends. There is no plateau.

Step Can Be a Challenging Cardio Workout

On the flip side, maybe you are thinking step is not intense enough. Perhaps you are thinking that only girls take step, or that you are too fit to benefit from it. Regardless of your fitness level, step can be a very challenging cardiovascular workout. It is a well-known fact that the U.S. military utilizes step aerobics to improve our troops’ agility, coordination, and endurance. If it’s tough enough for our soldiers, then it’s tough enough for me! In addition to step, I also teach Insanity, total body conditioning, and kickboxing classes. Step meets or exceeds these other formats in intensity level and calories burned per hour.

Step Is Great for Group Fitness

Step is the perfect group fitness exercise because it accommodates all fitness levels. And if you haven’t tried group fitness, well that’s a whole other conversation. But in short, try it! The camaraderie and accountability among the participants, the music, and the FUN factor will have
you hooked!

So, are you ready to take your fitness regimen to the next STEP? Click her for a free class pass to NIFS!

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This blog was written by Rachel Pfeiffer, ACE and AFAA Certified Group Fitness Instructor Insanity Certified Instructor; Proud NIFS Step Instructor since 1999

Topics: NIFS cardio fitness center weight loss group fitness workouts step

Holiday Workouts for Traveling and Getting Ready for New Year's

ThinkstockPhotos-105756015.jpgHolidays are upon us and, for many, traveling is inevitable. For at least a few days you may be on the road, in a hotel, or at a family or friend’s home. What happens to your exercise and nutritional routines that you have built and finely tuned over the past year? Do you take a break from those routines, or do you stick to them?

Keep Your New Year's Goals in Mind

Fast-forward a couple weeks from now. Do you have any fitness or nutrition goals that you have been thinking about for the New Year? If you haven’t thought about them yet, what might they be? For many gym-goers, weight loss is the main goal. Has this been a resolution for past years? One last question: Why would you put yourself “in the hole” when it comes to diet and exercise before the new year even starts? I’ll leave your holiday nutrition information up to our Registered Dietitian Angie Mitchell and focus mainly on a few workouts and exercise habits you can use to put yourself in front of the eight ball rather than, you know…

Take Physical Activity Breaks While You’re On the Road

My first focus will be on something that many people probably don’t think about when traveling, which is the amount of time that you might spend in the car. For some, six- or eight-hour car rides each way await them. If passengers in your car are anything like the ones that are in mine during road trips, bathroom breaks basically come every couple hours. Use this time for, well, obvious reasons, like having a little physical activity break from the car ride. All you need is 3 to 5 minutes to get the blood flowing and burn a few calories after sitting in the car for so long. Bathroom breaks can be done after that.

Below you will find two physical activity breaks that can be done at a gas station or rest stop that will help break up some of those monotonous driving feelings.

Physical Activity Break #1                      Physical Activity Break #2

3 rounds:                                                    3 rounds:
Jumping jacks x30                                     Incline pushups x10
BW squats x15                                          Lateral line hops x20
Skaters x10/side                                        Lunge x10/leg

Two Simple Workout Programs That Don’t Require Equipment

Three years ago my finest reindeer, Tom Livengood, wrote a blog on exercises that you can do with limited or no equipment during holiday travel. I’m going to build off of Tom’s previous work and give you some exercise options to choose from when you are on the road. Here are two simple workout programs that shouldn’t take more than 20 to 30 minutes to complete and will “HIIT” (get it?) all of your major workout components during these hectic months.

Program 1:IMG_7854.jpg

Warmup (3 rounds)

  • Alternating reverse lunge x60s (photo 1)
  • Walking plank x30s
  • Step through w/rotation x60s

Strength/Core (3 sets)

  • Rear foot elevated split squat x15/leg(photo 2)
  • Wall plank x60s(photo 3)IMG_7842.jpg
  • Pushup xMax                                                                                 

HIIT (Every minute on the minute for 10 minutes)

  • Mountain climber x30
  • Squat jump x15
  • 1/2 burpee x5

Program 2:

Warmup (3 rounds)IMG_7859.jpg

  • Single-leg bridge w/ pulse x30s/leg
  • Side plank w/ rotation x30s/side
  • Plank reach x60s(photo 4)

Strength/Core (4 sets)

  • Lateral lunge w/ forward reach x10/side
  • Feet elevated pushups x10-15

HIIT (30s on/15s off: 12 minutes)

  • PushupIMG_7856.jpg
  • Step-up (30s/leg)
  • Cheetah

Elevated split squats and pushups can be performed with a chair, box, dog, child, or whatever…be creative!

If you have additional time, try your best to find a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, foam roller, can of cranberries, frozen water bottle, or SOMETHING to use for some soft-tissue work. I hear foam rolling while drinking eggnog is the newest fitness trend (kidding!). No matter what you choose to do, the number-one goal is to stay moving. Don’t let your active lifestyle take a “HIIT” (okay, I’m done) over these next few weeks.

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This blog was written by Alex Soller, Health Fitness Instructor, Athletic Performance Coach. Click here for more information about the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: workouts holidays strength core traveling new year's HIIT

NIFS December Group Fitness Class of the Month: PiYo

Piyo2.jpgContinuing with the Group Fitness Class of the Month series, December is upon us and we are highlighting a new class. Hopefully you had the opportunity in November to do a BODYATTACK class. This month we take a closer look at another group fitness class: PiYo. This Beachbody class has been on the schedule for a good chunk of time now, but in case you don’t know what it is or haven’t taken the opportunity to try it, let’s pick it apart a little bit.

A Low-Impact, Fat-Burning Fitness Class

Now, stepping into an even smaller group fitness studio can also be very intimidating, I know, but the faster-paced movements and music in PiYo will hopefully diminish some of those feelings. And for those of you (this was me at one point as well) who feel this is just another stretching class…think again! PiYo takes the muscle-sculpting, core-tightening movements from Pilates and the strength and flexibility benefits of yoga and ties them into one class. Talk about a great combination! And with the ramped-up speed of the different movements, this class includes fat-burning, low-impact movements to help you see results.

My Experience with This Workout

I personally have done a PiYo class to see what it was all about, and allow me to share my experience. I started out with the mindset of this is “just another stretching class,” like I talked about above. Within just a few minutes, I quickly learned I was mistaken. The class moved much faster than I had anticipated, and the movements were quite challenging. I would consider myself to be an active, decently fit individual, with a good amount of flexibility and strength. But some of the moves in PiYo really challenged the flexibility and mobility of my body. And I could see how over time, taking this class would allow a person to actually see measurable results in those two areas.

PiYo_LOGO_Gray_M.jpgPiYo at NIFS

NIFS offers two different kinds of PiYo on our group fitness schedule. PiYo Strength focuses on agility, dance conditioning, athletic training, core conditioning, balance, flexibility, and so much more. Many athletes benefit from this format because of its flexibility, and using the body as full-body resistance. This is a fusion format that moves quickly and powerfully, and creates strength from the transverse abs out. We also offer Pilates/Yoga Fusion, which is a unique class designed to build strength, balance, agility, and flexibility. The moves fit perfectly together to form a class filled with intense choreography that's fun and challenging and will make you sweat. It is a perfect blend of Pilates, yoga, sports stretch, dance stretch, athletics, and more. Don't worry, no previous experience is necessary!

Watch PIYO workout Video

This blog shows what another NIFS Health Fitness Specialist has to say about PiYo. Take some time to try a PiYo class and see what you think!

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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 exercise fitness center yoga group fitness workouts balance strength Pilates core strength Group Fitness Class of the Month PiYo

Periodization of Your Workouts for Maximal Strength Gains

deadlift-3.jpgPeriodization is a fancy word for timing out your strength training to avoid mishaps such as overtraining, undertraining, or psychological “burnout.” A correctly periodized training program allows for maximal strength gains within the time frame of the program.

There are several different subcategories within the realm of periodization. The two most popular forms are linear and undulating periodization, and they can be similar in effect, yet they are quite different in execution.

Linear Periodization

This is a great example of the KISS (Keep It Super Simple) method. This type of programming calls for simply adding weight to your lifts, week after week, and trying your very hardest to outwork your previous workout. This tried-and-true method has shown results in all levels of lifters and athletes, from novice to advanced competitors.

“Linear” refers to the line of progression when you look at the weights used from each workout to the next. This line will slowly and steadily increase until the end of your program, when it is time to show off how strong you have gotten. A typical linear periodization program will last anywhere from 8 to 16 weeks.

Undulating Periodization

Now that you are familiar with linear periodization, take that nice straight line and make it a chaotic zig-zag from the first week of the program to the last, and now you have undulating periodization. Basically, instead of increasing weight or reps linearly throughout your program, you will consistently be adding or dropping weight and/or reps from each workout to the next.

The idea behind undulating periodization is to allow optimal recovery time between ultra-intense workouts, eliminating physical or mental overtraining. This is a method often used by more advanced lifters and athletes because of the commonly intense nature of the training sessions. For example, if a competitive powerlifter trained three days a week, a sample week of their program might look something like this (percentages shown are those of the respective one-rep max for each individual lift):

  • Day 1: Squat—80% 5 sets/3 reps
  • Day 2: Bench Press—70% 6 sets/3 reps
  • Day 3: Deadlift—75% 3 sets/8 reps
Which Method Should You Choose?

Neither of these methods has been proven to be better than the other. Each person will have their own opinions on which is better and why. I would suggest starting with linear periodization for two reasons:

  1. It is a very easy method to follow. There is no reason why anybody should start a linear program and not be able to finish it.
  2. It is a very accommodating method for beginner lifters. It is effort based, and what you give is what you get.

Like I said previously, these methods might not be ideal for everyone. They are great templates for individuals who want to get stronger, but they must be tailored to best fit you and your goals. For more information regarding training programs, ask of the NIFS Health Fitness Specialists to create one for you. If this methodology intrigues you and you would like to try it out, specifically mention this blog and they will create a program based on one of these training strategies.

There are a few spots remaining, so don’t wait to get registered for the NIFS 3rd Annual Powerliting Competition. Sign up today to be a part of a very special event hosted only once a year!

get registered for Powerlifting

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

Topics: NIFS workouts strength programs periodization

Technical vs. Tactical Fitness Training

ThinkstockPhotos-500518472.jpgIf you have spent time around sports, two terms that I am sure you have heard are technical and tactical. No matter what sport you have been around, at some point your coach planned a technical training session and a tactical training session. And in these sports, the technical sessions focused on the technique needed to be successful, and the tactical sessions focused on the “plans” behind how to make those work. I’d like to take a look at how you can put into place technical vs. tactical training in fitness, and in what ways this can benefit your training potential.

Technical Training in Fitness

The goal of any kind of technical preparation is to take skills specific to the activity and to improve them. In any form of movement or exercise, the body has both locomotive and bio-mechanical rules that it should be following in order to maximize potential. And the first step in technical training is to understand the movements that are supposed to be occurring during the exercise.

So what does all this mean? Let’s put it into laymen’s terms. I like to call it body awareness. You don’t need to memorize every single muscle in the body and know its location, insertion points, etc., but if you have a body awareness of where you should feel something, what it should look like, and the benefits of the movement, your exercise potential will increase!

Let’s take the bent-over row as an example:

  • Works upper and middle back.
  • Beneficial for all sorts of industries (carpenters sawing wood, nurses lifting patient to seated position, stay-at-home parent picking up the laundry basket).
  • Muscles used: lats, biceps, shoulders, deltoids, pecs, and triceps.
  • Where you should feel the exercise: middle and upper back.
  • Proper way to do the exercise: make sure you are bent over (using a bench or flat surface is ideal), be sure the back is flat and not rounded, without rotating your entire body lift the weight from a bent-over hanging-arm position up toward the armpit, feeling the shoulder blade move inward toward the spine.

As you can see, technical training certainly has its place in fitness. It’s important to learn and feel body awareness to begin to grasp what you should be feeling. Take some time to learn and understand the different technical aspects of movements in your workout and maximize your potential. If you need help, our health fitness specialists here at NIFS can assist you with those things!

Tactical Training in Fitness

Tactical training is taking the exercises we know and building specific programs around improving regular-life movements and activities (aka functional training). You make the workout revolve around not only getting fit, but building strength and mobility to assist in your everyday movement patterns.

As fitness always evolves and changes, there has been a shift from “specific training” for folks like policemen, firefighters, and the military to taking some of those workout programs and making them fit the mold for the “general exerciser.” Thus, it makes tactical exercise not focus on the workout itself, but hone in on the actual work being done in the workout. Tactical training is about taking exercise and making movements and programs carry over to functional, daily life movements like carries, running, swimming, etc.

Here are a few examples of tactical exercise (incorporate these into a workout for everyday-life impacts):

  • Kettlebell Suitcase Carry: Carry a kettlebell at your side while maintaining correct posture.
  • Jacob’s Ladder: Good for those who climb ladders in their jobs (firefighters, carpenters, roofers, etc.).
  • Barbell deadlifts: Ensures proper form in order to help lift boxes, laundry baskets, children, etc.

Both technical training and tactical training have their places in the fitness world. If you are currently training technically, look at some tactical training and begin to incorporate it into your workouts. And if you are training tactically, take some time to look at technique and make sure you are doing things correctly in order to avoid injury and aid your progression.

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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: fitness center workouts functional training kettlebell technical training tactical training

5 Ways to Keep Up with Workouts When College Stress Hits

ThinkstockPhotos-135551982.jpgWhen it comes to settling back into school, adjusting to the crazy schedule can become one of the biggest tasks. From classes each day, to group project meetings, to homework due dates and the dreaded semester exams, how are we supposed to find the time to keep ourselves healthy and fit?

In the summer you may have had no classes or potentially just one, leaving you with a hefty amount of extra free time to spend how you like. Getting back into those fitness goals that you wanted to accomplish wasn’t such a hard task. However, when school stress sets in, students find that that time gets cut short and they tend to give up on focusing on their own health.

Tips for Fitness in College

Here are a few tips to help you stay focused and driven to keep exercise in your daily schedule, without falling off the wagon, all while being successful in school:

Drink water throughout the day. We all know about the strategically placed dorm and community food/drink venues that are available at our fingertips when we are moving from class to class on campus. However, a lot of them tend to be full of extra sugar and unnatural ingredients. Simply remember to pack a bottle of water. There are many places across campus to refill it, and I would even challenge you to see how many times you can do that in one day! Drinking enough water will keep you hydrated and healthier. It will also assist in brain function to keep you focused during those long lectures and tedious late-night homework assignments you need to finish.

Keep a daily agenda. Whether it be just a few reminders on your phone or a hand-held planner, having something that tells you what you are doing throughout the day can only help keep you more organized. It can also help to keep you more accountable. If you have your workout scheduled and written down as a reminder, you are more prone to complete it. Find what works for you: a set time each day like after your last class, meeting a friend at the gym to work out together, or an alarm on your phone can be the secret to success.

Plan out your workouts. Knowing what you are going to be doing for your workouts is essential when it comes to saving time and being efficient in the gym. Take some time at the end of the week to plan out what you will be doing for the week to come. This not only saves you from walking around the gym wondering which exercise to do next, but it keeps you on task with something that you can build from and see more results. If you need help planning your workouts or some extra guidance, NIFS has qualified trainers who can sit down with you and help you plan out specific goals and personal training. They can also assess your movement through personal fitness testing and a functional movement screen, and then create a personal workout program that works for you. Click here to learn more about setting up your free fitness sessions with a NIFS trainer!

Incorporate HIIT into your busy days. High-Intensity Training (HIT) is a GREAT tool to use for those jam-packed school days where you don’t have much time. Days like that can elevate your stress level, which can have an effect on your blood pressure and fat retention. Workouts in the form of HIT training are shorter, with bouts of high heart rate and little rest in-between. They get the job done in less time, and are a great pick-me-up to burn calories and relieve some stress during your busy day. Click here to check out our HIT schedule and to try a class for free!

Find an accountability partner. If you feel like you are one who tends to start on something and not always complete it, an accountability partner is an awesome thing to have to keep you on track. An accountability partner can be anyone in your life who can commit to help keep you responsible for staying on track with your goals. For example, your best friend, roommate, classmate, family member, and even a coworker are all great options! This needs to be a person you converse with or see on a regular basis, so they can make sure to ask you regularly whether you trained that day or stayed on whatever new eating plan you may have started. This person can even have similar goals as you and work out with you, so you both can cheer each other on. This strategy will help increase adherence and get you closer to success with your goals.

Stay Focused on Fitness

So, while there are plenty of things that can distract you from staying on track, you can use these simple tips to keep focused! If you simply adopt a few new habits like the ones above, you will be more likely to keep on top of your fitness goals.

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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: fitness stress workouts accountability HIT personal training college high intensity functional movement school

Max Results with Minimal Equipment, Part 3: TRX

trx-1.jpgIn the two previous installments of “Max Results with Minimal Equipment,” we took a look at sliders and superbands, definitely two of my top “go-to” pieces of gear for when I need big results with small equipment. Now it’s time to cover the big daddy of them all in the minimal gear, max results department: the TRX!

A great deal has been written about the TRX. The work done with the TRX has been huge in recent years, and it’s no surprise that it’s one of the top fitness purchases out there. I have been recommending the purchase of this system to anyone and everyone who will listen. I recommend that you add it to not only your at-home and travel programming, but also your everyday workouts. But considering we are discussing how to get results when traveling or when you can’t make it to the gym, I will keep the awesome attributes specific to that.

Silly Rabbit, TRX Are Made for Everybody and Everywhere!

Here are the top reasons why I recommend this system as a must-own piece of equipment:

  • Portable is an understatement! Coiled up properly in its handy carry cinch-bag, the TRX becomes a small pouch that fits into any suitcase or bag.
  • The setup for use of the TRX is just as simple as it is portable. The TRX can be attached to a tree if you prefer to be outside. It can be attached to a power rack or cable cross machine. Or it can even be hung from your hotel door with a handy door-mount accessory.
  • When using the TRX to perform any movement, you are really using the entire body as well. Changing vectors and bases of support will challenge the entire system, no matter whether you are doing a bicep curl or a jump squat. The system will target your ability to stabilize the trunk in all movements that you perform.
  • The TRX can train mobility, stability, strength, and metabolic resistance. There are not many, if any, pieces of equipment that can do it all, but the TRX can. What separates the TRX from all other pieces is how quickly you can increase or decrease the intensity of the exercise. Just by changing your vector (a fancy word for angle), you can load up an exercise or make it a little easier for timed sets. A single TRX system allows you to target all facets of a solid training program.
  • Countless movement options. I can confidently say that you could rotate through the multitude of exercise choices you can do with the TRX and not see the same exercise for days. There is just so much you can do with just a single system! And if you didn’t learn all you need to know from a NIFS health/fitness instructor on how to get the most out of this equipment, the great people of TRX have complied a mass of workouts and exercises you can use to get the results you are hunting.

My Favorite Movements

Here are few of my favorite movements with the TRX: 

TRX Outside Final

Top Workouts

Enjoy one of these workouts with the TRX:

TRX EMOM: Complete the following Every Minute On the Minute for 10 minutes.

  • 5x TRX Rows
  • 10x TRX Atomic Pushups
  • 15x TRX Squat Jumps

TRX :45/:15: Complete the movements highlighted on the video in order for :45 of work followed by :15 rest.

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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: equipment workouts TRX traveling

Max Results with Minimal Equipment, Part 2: Superbands for Resistance

Screen_Shot_2016-08-23_at_1.59.16_PM.pngNext up on the minimal gear with max results list is truly one of my favorites, the superband. In part 1, we took a look the slider and all its versatility and ability to challenge the body in many different ways. The superband provides even more options with very little gear (mainly because we can perform more pulling movements with the band). So now we add “load” to a movement pattern on top of gravity. The superband is definitely next on the packing list when I travel, and I always have one available at home.

Favorite Portable Exercise Equipment: The Superband

The superband has been gaining in popularity over the last decade or so. With its easy-to-use and on-the-go capability, the superband has become a staple in many programs, from the weekend warrior (guys and gals like you and me) to elite-level athletes. Dave Schmitz, also known as “the Bandman,” has been teaching and promoting the use of superbands (resistance bands) since the mid-1990s. I have learned a great deal from Dave, not only about programming using bands, but also the motivation to reach as many people as I possibly can.

The band can be used anywhere, all by itself or attached to a stationary object or partner. This versatile tool uses tension as its load, and maintains resistance pretty much throughout a range of motion, which skyrockets its potential for strength gain and metabolic cost of the movement. The movement possibilities are endless, which can provide so much variety to your program either at home or away.

Best Superband Exercises and Workouts

Here are some of our favorite superband exercises:

Workouts:

M & M Bands Final

Circuit—:40/:20—3–5 Rounds

  • Front squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Bent-over rows
  • Jump press
Strength
  • A1 Chin-ups      4x5 (add load)
  • A2 Band push-ups      4x max reps
  • B1 2KB front squats      3x8-10
  • B2 Band hip press      3x8-10
  • C1 Band 1/2K lift      3x8
  • C2 Band bent-over rows      3x8
Give a few of these (or all of them) a try in your current program or on your next trip and you will find out what the band can do for you. Take along your sliders and you’ve just doubled the movement capabilities, and yet you are still only at two tools.

Stay tuned for the next installment, when we take a look at easily one of my favorite pieces, the TRX.

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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 fitness center equipment workouts resistance