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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Michael Blume

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

Three Drills to Develop Athletic Agility

GettyImages-871413050Agility drills basically represent an obstacle. Athletes who can respond faster to starts, stops, and change of direction earlier than the obstacle will have a practical advantage on the playing field. This blog highlights three of my favorite agility drills that can be built into your team’s conditioning routines. The benefits of these runs, jumps, and cuts include increases in reactionary speed, coordination, footwork, and body awareness. Athletes need to be able to change direction rapidly under control without decreases in speed.

You will need a good strength base before doing any high-intensity agility drills. These three drills are great for giving athletes the ability to keep their eyes on the play while knowing what is around them. Adding teammates to the mix always makes it fun and competitive.

Enjoy the drills!

Screen Shot 2020-03-03 at 2.54.12 PMDrill 1: Offense/Defense—Partner Reaction Acceleration Tag

Setup: Cones are spaced 10 yards apart with a middle cone at the halfway point.

Number of Athletes: 2
Athlete 1: Offense (starts the drill); Athlete 2: Defense (reacts and chases)

Execution: Both athletes start on the ground head to head on the baseline. Athlete 1 starts the drill and is allowed two fakes before they must stand, turn, and sprint 10 yards. Athlete 2 reacts and chases Athlete 1 once they stand and turn and has 10 yards to catch and tag Athlete 1 in a sprint fashion.

Screen Shot 2020-03-03 at 2.54.22 PMDrill 2: Cat & Mouse—5-5 Shuttle Reaction Tag

Setup: Cones are spaced 10 yards apart with a middle cone at the halfway point.

Number of Athletes: 2
Athlete 1: Offense; Athlete 2: Defense
Athletes will face each on opposite sides 10 yards apart.

Execution: At the start of a whistle or cue, both athletes sprint a 5-yard shuttle 5–5.

Athlete 1 then tries to sprint past the midline as fast as possible before Athlete 2 tags him before passing the midline after they both do a 5-yard shuttle.

After the 5-yard shuttle, Athlete 1 can juke/cut, etc. to get to the midline to fake out Athlete 2 before being tagged. Athletes switch between offense and defense.

Screen Shot 2020-03-03 at 2.54.44 PMDrill 3: Shuttle Runs—Reaction 5-5-10 Shuttle

Setup: Cones are spaced 0, 5, and 10 yards apart.
Another set of cones is 5 yards apart on the baseline.

Number of Athletes: 3–4
Athlete 1: Shuttles (drill start); Athletes 2–4: Reactionary

Execution: At start of a whistle or cue, Athlete 1, facing the baseline, begins shuffling between the 5-yard cones. Athletes 2–4 stand facing the other way on the baseline waiting to react to Athlete 1. Athlete 1 can shuffle back and forth for a total of two times. However, within the two shuffle attempts, Athlete 1 can turn and sprint whenever. Athletes 2–4 must respond to Athlete 1 and turn and sprint. After Athlete 1 initiates the sprint shuttle, all athletes are now in a race to sprint a 5–5–10-yard shuttle.

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

Topics: team training sports speed athletic performance drills agility coordination proprioception footwork