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

NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Michael Blume

Recent Posts by Michael Blume:

Spooktacular Outdoor Halloween Workouts at NIFS

GettyImages-1307733923The month of October, also known as ROCKTOBER or SQUATOBER and famous for Halloween, is here. I thought I would put together two workouts—a fun workout, Pumpkin Partners, and a challenging workout, The Hell Bridge—that everyone can enjoy this October! Both are great for outdoor training in cooler weather

The fun workout requires one large pumpkin between partners. If you don’t want to bring a pumpkin to the gym, there are plenty of med-balls to use instead to do the trick. The challenging workout requires good running shoes and a couple of trips across the bridge between the NCAA and the Indianapolis Zoo. 

Fun Workout: Pumpkin Partners

This workout is a two-part AMRAP workout (AMRAP means “as many rounds as possible”). 

Part 1

Pair up and complete as many rounds as possible of the circuit in 12minutes. Partner #1 does the exercises below while Partner #2 is resting. Switch roles, alternating partners, after completing the circuit.

  • x15 yds Traveling Overhead (MB / Pumpkin) Lunges—Traveling Down
  • 20x Thrusters (MB/Pumpkin) Squat to an Overhead Shoulder Press
  • x15 yds Traveling Squat Jumps with (MB / Pumpkin) [Swing MB/Pumpkin as you Jump]—Travel Back to Start
  • 20x Mountain Climbers with Hands on (MB / Pumpkin)

Part 2

Another paired-up AMRAP of 8 minutes. Again, Partner #1 does the exercises below, while Partner #2 is resting. Switch roles, alternating partners, after completing the circuit.

  • 5x (MB / Pumpkin) Push-ups [Close grip for harder variation, one hand on/one hand off for easier variation]
  • 10x (MB / Pumpkin) Sit & Reach Crunches [Crunch with an Overhead Press as You Sit Up]
  • 15x (MB / Pumpkin) Half Burpee OH Presses [Burpee with no Push-up to a Pumpkin Curl and Press Overhead]

Finisher

Partner who completes the most work during both workouts gets to Pumpkin Toss:

  • 1x Reverse (MB / Pumpkin) Toss for Height… Throw as high as possible and smash that pumpkin!

I suggest you do this outdoors to avoid a big mess. If pumpkin does not break on the first toss, repeat between partners until it is destroyed. HAVE FUN!

Challenging Workout: The Hell Bridge

Head out to the bridge between the NCAA headquarters and the Indianapolis Zoo. (It’s the bridge with all the art installations in the middle.) The workout is run SHORT to LONG, starting at the blue art installation next to the NCAA side of the bridge. Your goal is to do the exercise listed below all the way to the break in the grass/sidewalk. Each lap will get progressively longer. Follow with a run back to the start (the blue art installation) at the break in the grass/side walk. Essentially you will be making big circles/loops that progressively get longer until you have finally made it all the way across the bridge. 

  • Lap 1: Burpee Broad Jumps (Leap Frog + Push-ups) + Run Back to Start
  • Lap 2: Zig-zags (Line Skaters) + Run Back to Start
  • Lap 3: Lunges (change any direction—FWD/BKW/Side) + Run Back to Start
  • Lap 4: Sprint (as fast as possible—middle of the bridge) + Run Back to Start
  • Lap 5: Power Skips + Run Back to Start
  • Lap 6: Lateral Shuffles (stay low, no galloping) + Run Back to Start
  • Lap 7: Back Pedal + Run Back to Start
  • Lap 8: Sprint (all the way to the Zoo—as fast as possible) + Run Back to Start—FINISHED!

Whichever workout you choose (or possibly both), please get a good cool-down and stretch. You’ve earned it: go trick-or-treating after you’ve completed these workouts!

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

This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness center workouts holidays fall outdoor exercise halloween

King of the Gym, Part 3: Bodyweight Squats

Heavy weights can get exhausting, but don’t give up on squats just because of that. Instead, give bodyweight squats a try. In part three of the “King of the Gym” series, I focus on bodyweight-only variations on barbell back squats. Sometimes you need a break from all the heavy barbell training. That’s when bodyweight squats become useful by keeping you strong and well-conditioned.

The Air Squat

To start off, you must master the classic bodyweight squat, also known as the air squat. Keep your feet shoulder width apart, toes pointed forward, and the weight centered over your feet. Go down as deep as possible. At the bottom, push through your heels and the balls of your feet to begin ascent. All the while, keep your chest up and push into the ground until you are back up straight again. One rep completed!

Air Squats

 

Air Squat Variations

All the variations below are for the air squat and can be used for different purposes. Some can be used for mobility, while others used to build strength. Add them to your training program as you see fit.

Bodyweight Squats

 

Pick at least one variation from this list and start practicing it within your fitness routines. Drill down the different techniques of these alternatives to help strengthen areas of weakness within your barbell squats and become more extremely efficient when you do get back to barbell squats again.

Next in the Series

In part 4 of the series, I focus on bodyweight again, but set up some conditioning routines you can do at home, outside in the park, or in a hotel when on the road. As I have reiterated in each of the previous installments of this series, regardless of your fitness goals, some form or fashion of squats can and should be added to your fitness routines.

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

This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercise at home fitness center core strength bodyweight squat

King of the Gym, Part 2: Lower-Body Training with Simple Equipment

If we have learned anything this past year in quarantine, we’ve found creative ways we can train to get fit and stay strong in our living rooms, garages, basements, and backyards with our favorite squat racks. In part 2 of my blog series, you’ll learn how to use something simple like a dumbbell, kettlebell, med-ball, or light equipment like resistance bands to functionally train your lower body in place of the “king of the gym” back squats. 

Barbell Back Squat

Videos: No-barbell Exercises

If you don’t have a squat rack and barbell at the ready, there are a variety of different worthy alternatives to back squats—with no barbell required. Here are seven “king of the gym” alternatives that can use a kettlebell, dumbbell, med-ball, or bands.

Lower Body Training

The exercises in the preceding videos are great alternatives for anyone, especially if you can’t make it into the gym but you do have some light equipment at your disposal.

Functional Training for the Lower Body

Even if you are in the gym, but you don’t quite like the idea of doing a heavy-loaded barbell lift, you can still create resistance for your lower body. Resistance doesn’t mean loaded barbells; instead, these alternative exercises are loaded differently to functionally train the lower body. 

In part 3 of the series, I focus on body weight only, and in part 4 I set up some different routines you can do in a hotel when you’re on the road. Regardless of your fitness goals, you can and should add some form or fashion of squats to your fitness routines. 

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

This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercise at home equipment videos lower body squat pandemic

King of the Gym, Part 1: Squat Alternatives

I enjoy all forms of exercise, but like many, I want the most bang for my buck when I’m exercising. Sure, I am always on the lookout for the new and best exercises that would not only kick my behind, but also have benefits all around. However, I always trend back to the “king of the gym”: an exercise that I do without fail—SQUAT

The Squat Reigns Supreme

Squats are often referred to as the “king of the gym” exercise, and for a good reason. When done correctly, squats utilize essentially every muscle in the body. If you want to get stronger, get bigger, or lose weight, squats will help. Although they aren’t a must in order to build your lower body, they are probably the most efficient exercise. Whether it’s building a stronger core, back, and legs; increasing bone density; or burning fat, squats are the best bang for your buck due to the engagement of many muscle groups activated at once.

Barbell Back Squat-1

 

But this post isn’t about just about squatting. In fact, in this four-part series, I want to show you that there are plenty of different alternatives to the “king of the gym.” We don’t always have the luxury of a barbell and rack or endless equipment resources from the gym. Perhaps you train from home or are on the road at a hotel. Either way, No worries!

Squat Alternatives Using Other Gym Equipment

First up are five effective squat alternatives you can do with access to gym equipment other than the traditional barbell back squat. Are there more than five? Yes, but these are my favorites. When I have an injury, or I’m bored, or all the racks in the gym are being used, I like to substitute these five exercises in place of squats. These five moves show alternatives to squatting that you can do efficiently in the gym when a barbell and rack aren’t available and still achieve similar or better gains.

Squat Alternatives

As you can see, an effective squatting workout doesn’t have to be limited to the “king of the gym.” If you don’t have a squat rack available, there are a variety of different squatting alternatives you can use instead.

More in the Series

In part 2 of this series, learn how to use bodyweight and light equipment like resistance bands to functionally train your lower body. In part 3 of the series, I focus on body weight only, and in part 4 I set up some different routines you can do in a hotel when you’re on the road. Regardless of your fitness goals, some form or fashion of squats can and should be added to your fitness routines.

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

This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness center equipment weight loss strength core videos squat

Use Prehab Exercises to Improve Athletic Performance and Health

To potentially prevent future injuries, you can use prehab exercises to bomb-proof your body. The overall goal of prehab exercises is to increase durability in your physical activities with better-quality movements, which will improve your performance and overall health.

How Prefab Exercises Help

As a planned part of your exercise routine, prehab exercises will help with mobility, activation, and stabilization:

  • MOBILITY is the process of collectively improving your flexibility.
  • ACTIVATION is the process of causing controlled contractions or trying to “turn on” specific underactivated muscle groups to fire.
  • STABILIZATION is the process of generating coordination, or to control movement.

Videos of Prefab Exercises

The videos I’ve added are a few of my favorite routines to do with athletes before workouts begin. The goal is to strengthen and mobilize joints (such as shoulders, hips, knees, and elbows) as well as help practice movements you do during workouts and everyday life. Depending on your workout for the day, I’ve included samples of full-body, upper, and lower routines that I use with athletes regularly.

Full-Body Prehab Exercise Video

Full Body Prehab Exercises

Upper-Body Prehab Exercise Video

Upper Body Prehab Standing-I, Y, T, Ws and Scap Taps

Lower-Body Prehab Exercise Video

Lower Body Prehab Exercises

Practice is the key to all these prehab exercise movements. Work on the exercises that you find the most challenging and develop a body that will be mobile, strong, and stable for many workouts to come.

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

This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercises videos mobility joints movement stability prehab

Stiff Hips? Try Hurdle Stretches

GettyImages-1243955198I wish I had a dollar for every time a coach has said to me, “That athlete has stiff hips,” or “That athlete folds over at the waist,” etc. So how do I help an inefficient athlete with stiff hips? I use simple hurdle stretches that train my athletes to bend.

Many times it’s an athlete with long legs and a short torso. I wish I was more consistent in hurdle stretches with my athletes, but in the perfect coaching world, I would use them at every strength workout and have an extra set of hurdles near the practice fields/courts for use before practices.

Hurdle stretches are great because you can complete four to six stretches in less than five minutes. A hurdle stretch routine is helpful before and after activity. It’s also great for efficiently training a large group of athletes if you have 10–12 hurdles separated into two different lines of 5–6 hurdles.

Set-up some hurdles at NIFS and take yourself through these drills to loosen up those “stiff hips.”

Hurdle Stretches

 

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

This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness center strength stretching exercises coaching athletes

Plank Progression Series

GettyImages-1168143615The plank series needs no equipment, only a wall (if you make it that far). Attempt to complete the plank series in order. Complete the plank progressive series on the days you work out at the end of your workout. If you are x2 days in a row successful and have perfect technique with the exercise, move on to the next progressive variation. You will see that the traditional plank is repeated multiple times and we will add time as you progress along over break. You do not need to do more than what is asked of you. It will be easy at first, but trust me: it gets harder by the end.

Step 1: Build Awareness

The dowel is placed along the spine and is kept in contact with three points: back of the head (not the top), thoracic region (between shoulder blades), and the sacrum (tailbone). This forces you to understand and become aware of proper alignment. Essentially, the dowel serves as your coach. If it rolls off or wobbles, you aren’t in good alignment.

Additionally, the quadruped position is great to begin to develop awareness of optimal alignment because it takes most of the load off the system while still keeping the torso in a very similar position to the abs plank. 

Once you can hold optimal position for 30 seconds, move on to step 2. 

Step 2: Lengthen the Lever Arm

The straight-arm plank is essentially a static hold in push-up position. This takes what we learned in step 1 and adds in some load due to the increased length in the lever arm. The load on the abs here is not as great as on the elbows.

If you cannot hold optimal alignment for 30 seconds, keep working here until you can. If you can maintain optimal alignment without disturbing the dowel, you are ready to move on to step 3.

As I stated above, the elbow plank with dowel increases the load on the torso even further over the straight-arm variation. In other words, it demands more strength and control of optimal alignment.

Step 3: Elbow Plank

Once you can hold this position for at least 30 seconds without much fatigue, you are ready to move on to the advanced progressions that I’ve laid out below.

If you cannot, remain here at level three until you can achieve a 30-second hold without too much fatigue.

Keep in mind that just because you are doing planks, it doesn’t mean that you can do them correctly. The dowel is a simple method of telling you how good your planks really are.

Once you’ve mastered the basic plank with the dowel, you no longer need to use the dowel.

Plank Progressions

Now that you understand what is required to perform an optimal fundamental plank, I can show you the complete progression spectrum from beginner to advanced planks. Once you can maintain optimal alignment here for required times, move on to the next level.

Screen Shot 2021-01-28 at 2.10.59 PM

Level

Plank Progression Exercise

Sets & Time

Notes

1

Half-Kneeling Elbow Plank

2x1min

On knees & elbows

2

Traditional Plank

2x :45 sec

On elbows & toes

3

Push-up Plank

2x :45 sec

Push-up position

4

Plank w/ Leg Lift

2x :20 sec

Push-up position

5

Plank w/ Arm Lift

2x :20 sec

Push-up position

6

Half-Kneeling Side Elbow Plank

2x1min (R/L)

On knee & elbow, hip up, x1 min—R/L

7

Elbow Side Plank

2x :45 sec

On elbow & foot

8

Up/Down Plank

2x :30 sec

Alternating elbow plank to push-up plank continuously

9

Decline Plank

2x :45 sec

On elbows & toes with feet elevated

10

Plank w/Knee to Chest (March)

2x1 min total

Pull knee up to chest & alt R/L every 10-15 secs

11

Side Plank w/ Knee to Chest (March)

2x1 min total

Pull knee up to chest & alt R/L side after 30 secs

12

Side Plank w/ Leg Abduction

2x1 min total

Leg straight and extended upward & alt R/L side after 30 secs

13

Bird-Dog Static Plank

2x:30 sec

Push-up position, bring opposite elbow to knee touching underneath hips and hold (R/L)

14

Bird-Dog Active Plank

2x:30 sec

Push-up position, bring opposite elbow to knee touching underneath hips and then actively extend same arm/leg out and back to touching (R/L) & repeat

15

1-Arm Rotating Plank to Side Plank

2x:30 sec

Starting a traditional plank, take one arm/hand and reach for opposite armpit. Then actively rotate to a side plank and extend the arm to the sky & rotate back to plank (R/L) & repeat

16

Wall Plank

 

On elbows & toes—feet against the wall & elevated

17

Wall Plank w/ Knee to Chest (March)

2x 1 min total

Feet on wall—pull knee up to chest & Alt R/L every 10-15 secs

18

Wall Plank w/ Bird-Dog Static Plank

2x :30sec

Feet on wall—push-up position, bring opposite elbow to knee touching underneath hips and hold (R/L)

 

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

This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

 

Topics: workouts plank workout programs

Get Back on Track with Fitness Motivation Habits in the New Year

GettyImages-1276934961

When we began the early stages of the pandemic lockdown, the sidewalks were full of runners and walkers, and living rooms were a blur of new spin bikes and uncoordinated bodyweight lunges. Out of boredom from being home, I would bet physical activity levels were peaking right before restrictions began to be eased this summer.

Like a New Year’s resolution, motivation to exercise has gradually faded. It was a lot easier to exercise when you had only two choices during this pandemic, stay at home all day or get out and get moving. But now, after months of shifting social restrictions, many have lost their motivation to exercise again.

Five Quick Motivation Fixes

Here are some quick fixes to help get back on track with ways to improve your fitness motivation in the New Year.

Plan your exercise for when it’s easiest to do and then treat your workouts like appointments.

This might mean exercising as soon as you get up in the morning, like me, or mid-afternoon or after a day of work at home. Whenever you start your workout for the day, before temptations and obstacles begin, be organized and have a routine. Do not miss your workout session; going in with the mindset that you have to accomplish it is an excellent way to increase adherence and motivation.

Make it easy to exercise.

Do not make it a challenge to plan exercise ahead of time. For example, I lay out and pack up my workout gear in the evening as to be ready for when I go off in the morning. Do as many things as you can beforehand so that, when the time comes, starting your workout is easy. Break the process of exercising into chunks and then maximize your workout time:

  • Step 1, requiring a little bit of effort: Get changed into workout gear.
  • Step 2: Step out the door and on your way to your planned workout.

Before you know it, it’s harder to not exercise than to exercise.

Reduce your time.

Workouts shouldn’t take hours on end. No one has the time or motivation to be stuck working that long. Instead, change up your workouts with supersets. A superset is two or more exercises stacked together with little or no rest between them to create a more efficient workout. It’s your best friend during workouts because it helps you get more done in less time.

Ideal for building strength, pair two or more exercises that work opposing muscle groups, like Chest Press and Bent-over Rows.

While working the same muscle groups, for example Squats and Glute-Bridges, compound sets work on muscle endurance and are great for improving muscle definition.

Lastly, if you are working two different muscle groups like lower- and upper-body, this is considered a circuit. It’s great for burning fat. An example would be a push-up and squat, row and lunge, or RDL and Triceps Pushdowns.

Get excited to go shopping!

A huge motivation is to buy a new piece of workout gear. Get yourself excited to get back into exercise by buying something you’ve been eyeing. Workout gear could be anything, as long as it gets you excited to use it: a new watch with a GPS tracker, new workout clothes and running shoes, or even a new jump rope or dumbbells for your home gym.

Do what you enjoy.

If you find yourself wanting to jump rope or take a fitness class instead of doing burpees and bench press, it’s better to do what you want to do. Keeping it simple requires a lot less mental effort and requires minimal motivation. Repeat exercises that felt good and don’t try to force yourself to do something you think you should do.

A New Start for 2021

While many of us aren’t looking forward to further social restrictions, this New Year will give you another opportunity to develop a healthier lifestyle. If you don’t know the exercise lingo I used or you are a novice at working out, talk with a personal trainer or fitness professional who can help you put together workouts that are time efficient and effective routines that you’ll enjoy. By making some of the easy changes I have suggested, you can make enormous improvements in your motivation as we head into the New Year.

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

This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: healthy habits motivation resolutions personal training new year's superset covid-19 lockdown

Getting Geared Up for Cold Weather Wellness

GettyImages-1179065933As winter approaches, don’t let it discourage you from reaching your full potential and goals you’ve set for yourself. 2020 has definitely been a trying year, full of new normals. Continue to use exercise and strength training to keep your body healthy.

Keep Setting Fitness Goals

Continue to set goals; goal-setting will help you stay the course. Setting goals gives you purpose and meaning, and a reason to come to the gym. Set small goals and watch them turn into big ones. If you feel you’re plateauing, get a personal trainer to help you push past your threshold. They will keep you accountable as well as push you to new heights in your fitness journey.

Focus on Nutrition and Healthy Eating

Use the cold months to really focus on your nutrition. Winter months can lead to more relaxation since outside activities are not as prevalent. Keeping good nutritional habits will help you achieve your goals. If you need help with nutrition, utilize a dietitian to help you find the right foods to eat. Meal prepping and eating real foods will be key during the winter months—not getting set on carryout food and outside dining. Although every once in a while it’s okay to eat restaurant food, you want to focus on eating clean and getting proper nutrients into your body. Especially now during COVID-19, you want to make sure you’re staying as healthy as possible.

Maintain Safe Practices in the Pandemic

Speaking of the pandemic, continue to practice safe distancing while out in public. That way, you’ll keep your family safe and those around you. Try to minimize large gatherings. If you have to be with friends and family, make sure everyone does the proper things to keep everyone healthy and safe, including wearing masks. Use your best judgment while out and in social gatherings. Continue to wash your hands and sanitize equipment and any object that has been touched or will be touched.

Stay Busy and Keep Planning

Find new hobbies. If you’re able to get outdoors, enjoy that time with family and friends. If you’re not fortunate enough to be able to be outdoors due to the cold weather, find indoor activities to pass the time, but keep yourself busy. Don’t let the winter months bring you down. Continue to plan daily to attack the day and stay motivated. Stay busy and stay healthy!

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

This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: winter fitness nutrition healthy eating winter strength training cold weather wellness goals pandemic

Warming Up for Vertical and Broad Jumps with Pogo Jumps

GettyImages-1225454377Want to jump higher, jump farther, or possibly dunk a basketball? With all the athletes I have trained over the years, at some point within their sport they all jump. Competitive as athletes are, they want to be able to jump higher like in volleyball, or jump farther like swimmers coming of the blocks, for example.

Warming Up Your Lower Body

Before you start jumping, you need to warm up your lower body. A fun way to wake up your lower body and prepare for explosive work like vertical or broad jumps is to incorporate easy plyometrics into your fitness routines. Plyometrics refers to exercises involving rapid stretching and contracting of your muscles.

An easy warm-up drill into plyometrics for athletes is to start with pogo jumps. They are one of my favorite athletic drills to warm up with and incorporate within athletic workouts. Pogo jumps are a great tool for teaching athletes what it feels like to be fast and or explosive off the ground. I use pogo jumps primarily to target the calves and shins. To a lesser degree they also target the hamstrings and quads within our warm-ups.

Proper Form for Pogo Jumps

Here’s what we want to see out of athletes when doing pogo jumps: minimal ground contact time, and minimal knee flexion (knees over the toes). Each jump is mainly with ankle movement instead of hips and knees. Never let your heel touch the ground. Stay on the ball of your foot to utilize your lower-leg elasticity. Low pogo jumps look similar to bunny hops, and high pogo jumps are similar but emphasize more explosive power for height on each jump, making you look more like a kangaroo.

Pogo Jump Drills

Depending on available space, pogo jumps can be done in place for typically 10–20 jumps in a row, or you can do them for distance down and back in a 10-yard space. If doing pogo jumps laterally, I like to go 10 yards down right and switch halfway, and keep going 10 yards left. Like most exercises, you are only going to get out what you put into it, so really push yourself to jump for speed (quickness) or height (explosive) each time. As always, make sure that you are keeping good form when you jump as well.

Goal: Improve vertical leap, quickness, and footwork
Equipment Needed: None—just you!
Space: In place or 10–20 yards distance

Drill: Low Pogo Jump

Execution: Begin the drill in an athletic posture with the feet hip/shoulder-width apart. Raise heels up and stand on the balls of your feet. Quickly bounce up and down on the balls of your feet. Don’t let your heels touch the ground. 

Drill: High Pogo Jump

Execution: Starting the same as low pogo, stand tall with feet slightly spread apart about hip-width. Raise heels up and stand on the balls of your feet. Advance the low pogo drill by attempting to gain more height in your jump and still minimizing ground contact time.

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

This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercises plyometric sports warmups drills jumpings