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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Short Sleeps, Big Benefits: What a Power Nap Can Do for You

GettyImages-172211394Can you remember preschool when the teacher would turn down the lights and break out the cots? Nap time! You might not have had that exact experience, but as humans we are prone to napping. In our go-go-go life, time is money. To society, napping is seen as a luxury that we cannot provide ourselves and is usually seen as a sign of laziness.

Unfortunately, napping doesn’t pay the bills. Even so, many physicians as well as wellness-oriented CEOs have championed the idea that a little afternoon snooze is actually beneficial, and can not only provide enough rest to fight off fatigue, but improves your alertness, improves motor learning skills, boosts memory, and enhances creativity (Soong, 2010). Can napping actually make you a better employee at work, give you better results in the gym, or enable you to have a better social life with your family and friends? Yes, in fact, it can! Here is a closer look at napping and its benefits.

What Is the Optimal Nap Length?

First, I’d like to break down naps into two parts. The duration of nap that you are taking will be specific to you, but there is information that gives a good indication that for optimal power naps, 10 to 20 minutes of sleep will provide the best results. Longer naps can make you groggy; this is known as sleep inertia (Dvorsky, 2013). The longer naps, such as a 60- to 90-minute siesta, can put you in a state of REM (otherwise known as our dream state). There are some links to cognitive function associated with longer naps, but the time frame doesn’t always work with our hectic schedules.

When Is the Best Time to Nap?

The second part deals with necessity. Our naps can be planned, in which you know you are going to need extra rest for a long night, so you take a nap. Another would be an emergency nap, where you take a nap because you otherwise would have put yourself in a dangerous situation (think about getting sleepy behind the wheel and then deciding it’s best to pull over at a rest stop for a nap). Then there is the always popular appetitive napping—in other words, taking a nap for the sheer enjoyment of it (Dvorsky, 2013).

What Are the Benefits?

Your health and wellness can benefit from a simple, short nap. At the right length, your nap can provide much-needed alertness, mental capacity, creativity, energy, reduced stress (in turn reducing the risks of heart-related disease), and more effective learning abilities for children. With all these positives attached to something that can be done quite simply, it’s hard to understand why anyone would not take more naps. For businesses, your employees would be better workers; for teachers, your students would have a better chance of learning; and for you, your overall well-being would be improved. Don’t wait; take a nap TODAY!

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. To read more about the other NIFS bloggers, click here.

Struggling to Get in Your Vegetable Nutrition? Try Frozen!

GettyImages-846048468It can be a challenge to get in the recommended 2–3 cups of vegetables each day. Even people who like vegetables can struggle coming up with ways to increase them. Thankfully, the food industry realizes this and has come out with a ton of quick and easy options to make it simple to get in those servings.

The key is to take a stroll down the frozen food aisle. Some people are concerned that frozen veggies aren’t as healthy as fresh vegetables, but that isn’t the case. Frozen vegetables are flash-frozen at their optimum nutritional state. This guarantees that all of those nutrients are preserved. Cook them to crisp tender and the majority of those nutrients will be intact.

Not only can you go for the traditional frozen veggies like broccoli and carrots, but now there are lots of fun options to make it easier to get the recommended plant-based nutrition and vitamins into your meals.

Delicious Frozen Options

Here are some new items to toss into your grocery cart at your next shopping trip.

Cauliflower Craze

Spiralized Sensation

Protein Power

Watch the Sodium

One thing to be cautious about is that some of these frozen veggie options are higher in sodium than the standard bag of plain frozen vegetables. Make sure to drink plenty of water with your meal to help flush out the sodium, and pair your frozen veggie side with a fresh piece of protein and a whole grain. Don’t add additional salt to the dish, and review the nutrition facts label to see which ones are higher than others.

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: vitamins plant-based frozen food veggies meals

Get with the Program: 5 Benefits of Having an Exercise Plan

IMG_0653-1“Success favors the prepared” is one of my favorite quotes highlighting what it takes to be successful in life and any pursuit that interests you. Without preparation and planning, effort and action really have no direction, which can result in you being lost. I would also offer that a misguided workout plan, although it’s a plan you didn’t have before, can be just as detrimental to your success. So having an exercise plan is really important, but having a solid and well-thought-out plan is super important!

Don’t confuse movement with progress when it comes to your weekly and daily training. Getting to the gym is step one, but what you do with your time there will be the difference between achievement and disappointment. We don’t usually argue the benefits of writing down your goals; it’s important and can usually lead to reaching those goals. You have heard me say many times “if you think it, ink it.” Why don’t we do that with our exercise programs? Goals give you your destination; your training program is the roadmap that can get you there. A well-designed map can get you there more quickly and safely.

So get with the program! Or should I say, get with a professional about your program. A well-trained and educated coach’s eye can be a game changer when working toward your fitness goals. The guidance they can provide is crucial to your development and ability to reach new heights. Named number 6 on the ACSM 2018 fitness trends list, educated and experienced fitness professionals remain an important commodity to you and the rest of the public. Utilize them!

And here are five more benefits of following an exercise program that is designed specifically for you by a fitness pro.

No More Guessing

Having a plan of attack takes the guesswork out of your workout. Fitness centers can be overwhelming at times; and with the amount of information and opinions that are out there, without a plan you could find yourself kind of meandering around not getting a lot of work done. I also think that not having a clear direction can lead to low confidence, resulting in an increased rate of giving up. Getting a program is not just a list of great exercises to do; it can act as your ticket to an “I CAN DO IT” mindset instead of “I don’t know what to do, so I’ll skip it today.” Which mindset do you think is the more successful one?

Proper Techniques and Principles: Injury Prevention

GT3“Move well then move often” is a great quote from the folks over at FMS and one that we carry as our motto around here. Performing exercises correctly that are based on safe and proper movement principles will be the difference between reaching your goals and being laid up for weeks because of an injury due to improper technique or progression. You can’t work if you are injured, and no one should be injured in fitness. But people get hurt all the time due to improper exercise technique and poor guidance. And if you don’t get hurt, you will definitely not receive all the great benefits of an exercise if you are performing it poorly. A great coach can design a program and provide the technical support you need to execute it well. Move well, move often! You get only one body; don’t you want to keep it running for a long time?

Progress Tracking

With a personal program design, you have your record-keeping right in front of you. Whether you are a paper-and-pencil person or a tech-savvy individual, logging your exercises, loads, intensity levels, and rate of perceived exertion is the best way to keep an eye on your progress. And believe me, when you see the weights go up, so does your confidence level and positive mindset.

Just as you wrote out your goals and the benefits of that process, logging your efforts is the next step. How do you know you are heading in the right direction if you don’t document the journey? Seeing is believing, and what better way to see the progress than to log the important variables that make up your program?

Keeping It Fresh

A great fitness pro will be able to design programming for you that is always progressing as you do, and will include different exercises and intensities to continually add new challenges. New stimulus equals new results; that’s just how the body works. After a certain amount of time, your body will no longer have to adapt to the previous stimulus, and with no adaption, there are no results. Also, keeping your program evolving will increase the enjoyment factor, leading to greater adherence to the exercise program. Nobody wants to do the same old thing over and over again. If variety is the spice of life, let a new fitness program be the chili powder!

Challenge Preconceived Limits

One of the main jobs of a great coach is to demonstrate to an individual that they are far more capable than their mindset tells them. A personal fitness program that includes all of the above, designed specifically for you, will take you out of that box you have been living in and prove to you that you are stronger than anyone (including yourself) gave you credit for. I have worked with so many who believed that they were supposed to reside on an elliptical machine for their workout and prove to themselves that they are an athlete and love to move. Working with a fitness pro to develop your specific program can unlock the physical potential that has been waiting to be shown the world!

Most of us have heard the ageless quote from Ben Franklin: “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” Without a proper fitness program that fits your needs and works toward your specific goals, failure is a very real outcome. Like most aspects of our lives, a solid plan of attack usually leads to success. Why should we treat our health and fitness differently? Get with the program and be ready for the results!

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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: injury prevention goals tracking fitness exercise plan workout plan fitness professional fitness program coach

Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste (from a NIFS Dietitian)

GettyImages-639303956Every day Americans waste a lot of food. One statistic states that we throw away up to 40 percent of the food that is purchased! This is usually due to the fact that even though food costs are rising, no other nation spends less on the food supply. Since food is so abundant, especially with the warehouse options like Costco for grocery shopping, it makes it easier to not value the food and therefore toss more in the trash.

Tips for Reducing Wasted Food

Here are some simple and practical tips to help you contribute to reducing food waste in America.

  • Shop smart. This is the easiest and most practical one to follow. When you go grocery shopping, don’t buy too much food! This might mean going to the store more frequently or just buying less each time you go. Plan your meals and snacks and then make a list. When you get to the store, actually stick to the list.
  • Practice portion control. This one is tough! Following portion sizes is a challenge since we tend to over-serve ourselves; however, if you are eating the correct portions, then the food isn’t being wasted. A typical serving of a side dish, from potatoes to vegetables, is ½ cup and meat is 3 oz. Start measuring every so often to keep portions and calories in check and get the right nutrition.
  • Save and EAT leftovers. If you are sticking to proper portion sizes, chances are you will have leftovers of food. Use this opportunity to have lunch or dinner ready for the next day instead of eating out or struggling to come up with an idea of what to cook. If you did eat out and brought home a doggy bag (since restaurant portions can be very large), be sure to eat your leftovers within a day or two.
  • Use an app to help. Handpick is a useful app that allows you to put in what items you have on hand and it will generate a recipe for you to make. There are thousands of recipes to choose from, so chances are one will appeal to your taste buds.
  • Use expiration and sell-by dates as guidelines. These dates refer to food quality and not food safety. A food doesn’t automatically turn bad on the exact date that is printed. This is just a guideline. When eating a product after the date listed, use your senses. Go by your smell, sight, and taste.

Keep Track of How Much You Throw Away

Try to start implementing some or all of these tips so you can decrease your personal food waste. Each week take an inventory of how much you had to toss and try to make it less the next week. You will end up saving money and calories, and maybe moving closer to being a zero-waste home.

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, Registered Dietitian and Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition calories apps food safety portion control grocery shopping food waste zero-waste saving money

There’s an App for That! Using Technology to Advance Wellness

GettyImages-822366038nTechnology can be incredibly good and bad for your health. It can be said that we, as a society, are much lazier now than the previous generations due to modern conveniences. These modern conveniences, some of which we might not be able to live without, allow us to circumvent exercise and work.

Knowing that physical fitness and technology are not always on the same page, there are some enlightened and engaging computer programs, phone apps, and personal devices that enable you to better monitor your health and track your progress. Here I will look a little more closely at these products are they pertain to your personal fitness.

Personal Health Monitoring

Taking a step beyond tracking your reps and sets, being able to monitor everything from calories in/out to diabetes management can be easier with software and activity tracking devices. For those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, uploaded data can provide information to doctors to better serve you and adjust the medications you require to live. Future technology might make it possible to adjust medication doses remotely, without having to see a doctor, or help in an emergency.

Weight Management and Social Media

If used as a weight-management tool, tracking nutrition with a cell phone (whether you are entering the calories manually or scanning barcodes) is much faster and easier than ever. Writing down every single item you eat can be a challenging task, so this tool gives you more time to spend doing other things you love doing (hint: exercise). Many social apps are available that help link you to other likeminded individuals; so, finding a workout buddy or getting ideas for your next WOD (workout of the day) is at your fingertips.

The NIFS App

We are proud to offer a NIFS app that enables you to manage your own fitness center experience. App users can sign in with their cell phone (so there’s one less thing to have to carry on your keychain). This can be nice on days you are running late or are trying to maximize your time at the gym.

Secondly, you can use the app as a tool to set personal goals and track progress. Recording your workout on your favorite cardio equipment is as easy as taking a photograph of the machine and submitting it. The rest of the work is on us!

Thirdly, app users have access to the NIFS Group Fitness Calendar. The calendar can be useful when trying to decide between classes because there are descriptions of each class on the site. Finally, there are monthly challenges posted on the app that give you incentives to come and exercise. The app is free to download and is geared toward enhancing the member experience.

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Technology definitely gets a bad reputation when it comes to fitness, but there are many ways it can be helpful. If you are new to apps or fitness tools such as these, please ask a staff member to help you access this useful asset. As technology advances, we can only hope that there are positive links toward a healthier and more active society. Take a new approach to fitness; download the NIFS app today! See what we can do for you!

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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 nutrition Thomas' Corner group fitness weight management diabetes technology apps activity trackers health monitoring

I Don’t Always Use a Machine: The Athletic Training Platform (ATP)

In the great pursuit to build a strong body, push through preconceived physical boundaries, and feel great, we are in a time when the training options are close to limitless and at our fingertips. The world of strength and conditioning is full of pros who develop new ways everyday to challenge the human body and create systems and tools designed to push athletes and fitness enthusiasts to new heights. Many of these tools and training systems should stay in those late-night infomercials, but every now and again someone gets it right.

Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell (WSB) nailed it with the development of the Athletic Training Platform (ATP). Premiering about a year ago, the ATP was designed as a universal training machine suited for all fitness levels and many applications for anyone working to get fit, build strength, lose weight, and build a powerful body. We here at NIFS were fortunate enough to acquire one of these great machines recently, and we feel it definitely lives up to the hype.

Setting Up the ATP

So how do you get started using this piece, you ask? Here is a quick tutorial on proper setup of the ATP.

 

 

When working with folks, it’s my belief that first you need to master your body with body-weight movements and functional movement patterns; move on to loading those patterns with dynamic equipment such as kettlebells and sandbags; and finally progress to more advanced and multi-joint movements. I typically do not use many machines in my personal or professional training other than a cable system. The ATP is a machine I can get behind and use frequently. The ATP is used for so much more than just belt-squats; it can challenge anyone in any plane of motion. It can also help with lower-back ailments due to its “traction” effect with the load coming from below.

Favorite Exercises

There are too many exercises to list in one post, so here are a few of our favorites:

 

 

You intrigued? You should be! The ATP is a versatile and effective piece that can help you achieve the fitness goals you have set for yourself. If you are interested in adding the ATP to your exercise program, I highly recommend that you see one of your highly trained and motivated instructors here at NIFS to show you more about the ATP. Stay tuned for more ATP exercises coming soon in future posts!

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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 videos Athletic Training Platform

Goals + Momentum = Weight Loss Success

GettyImages-893206214Zig Ziglar once said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit every time.” And each of us knows from our own experiences that he is right. As humans we tend to flow toward what is easy and what is comfortable. One day turns into the next day and time seems to slip by us, and what we intended to do doesn’t quite get done.

Although we have good intentions, and no doubt they are commendable, they never seem to happen because they are too vague. Vague intentions are impossible to focus on and aim for; they are moving targets.

Are there moving targets in your life? Maybe you want to lose weight for summer or want to make the gym part of your daily routine. Maybe you want to start eating healthier.

Bring Moving Targets to a Halt

So how do you stop a moving target? Create momentum and steady your target.

Imagine a target shooter trying to hit a bull’s-eye on a target. They begin to aim, but then suddenly the target moves; and before the shooter can position themselves to aim, the target moves again. It starts to become very unlikely that the shooter will ever hit their target.

Without being specific about your objectives, your intentions for them are your moving target. Wanting to lose weight, eat healthier, feel better, and have a routine is all fantastic, but without stating clear, defined goals and methods, you can’t focus and make it happen.

The way to steady your target so you can finally hit the bull’s-eye is to define your goals and write them down:

  • How much weight do you want to lose?
  • What kind of healthier choices can you make?
  • How many days per week can you commit to coming to the gym?

Once you know what you want your outcome to be, you are much more likely to get there. But you have to start moving toward those objectives by using your momentum.

Momentum

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

There is a lot of wisdom in the words of Tony Robbins. The majority of the time the hardest part of reaching a goal is just getting started. It’s never easy starting something new or passing up that favorite sweet of yours.

So how do you build up the momentum to get started? By creating a plan of action. Tony Robbins provides us with seven steps to increase our momentum.

  1. GET CLEAR: Gain clarity on where you are.
  2. GET CERTAIN: Take what you can dream about and make it real.
  3. GET EXCITED: It’s time to get excited about where you want to go.
  4. GET FOCUSED: Determine your results and where you want to end up.
  5. GET COMMITTED: This is the time where you become dedicated and truly commit to your goals.
  6. GET MOMENTUM: TAKE ACTION!
  7. GET S.M.A.R.T: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely GOALS!

Start Now!

Don’t wait; get started now! Create an action plan, get help with goal-setting, get nutrition help, and even form a workout program. Schedule an appointment with our Weight Loss Coordinator so you don’t have to go at this alone! Build up that momentum to help take you over the top and beyond.

Oh, and remember: we’re all here to help the entire way!

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This blog was written by Ashley Duncan, Weight Loss Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS nutrition goal setting weight loss goals

You Can Do It! NIFS Training Helps You Meet Your Goals (Part 2 of 2)

IMG_9434Following on from part 1 of this blog, where I talked about goals, there are few fitness achievements that are more impressive than completing a triathlon. The combination of running, swimming, and biking along with power, endurance, perseverance, and attitude are imposing, especially for those who have never completed one before. The traditional Ironman races are comprised of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run for a grand total of 140.6 miles.

The Event Takes Many Forms

You can’t wake up today, without training, and begin to dream of the goal of finishing such an event. Most people will never complete a true Ironman triathlon in this form, but there is hope. Through the vision of great-minded individuals, we have a multitude of triathlon options that tinker with the original chemistry to create some equally impressive challenges for all levels. There are indoor versions that are held in the friendly confines of a gym (usually with a pool); there are sprint triathlons that modify the distances to a 5,000-meter run, 250-meter swim, and 14-mile bike ride. Notably, NIFS has been involved with a women-only triathlon called the Go Girl, the Indianapolis event of which is held at Eagle Creek Park. With so many options available (more will surely surface), there is hope for our triathlon aspirations after all!

Why Would Anyone Want to Do a Triathlon?

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Why would you ever want to do a triathlon in the first place? Kris Simpson, a personal trainer and triathlon coach at NIFS believes, “It is great cross-training” and “it can test your mental toughness by getting out of your comfort zone, especially if you have been traditionally a single-sport athlete.” With that being said, getting into a structured training regimen with focused end goals might be just what you need to awaken your inner athlete and competitive drive.

According to another triathlon finisher, Kaci Lierman, competing the tri event is a monumental occasion. Hours of hard work cumulate in that moment when you step across the finish line and take a deep sigh of relief. A sense of accomplishment, wholeness, and pride overtake you. You can stop there if you like, but the endorphins from the actual high are so great, you might want to do it again and again.

NIFS Training for Triathlons 

How does one train for a triathlon event? You could train on your own, but with so many small details (think transition training, bike maintenance, and clothing management), it’s beneficial to seek guidance from a seasoned professional. NIFS offers such training, catering to beginners who are new to the event, as well as triathlon veterans trying to get personal bests.

NIFS group training currently includes the Go Girl Triathlon Training Program. Women who are interested in the training program can contact Kris Simpson at ksimpson@nifs.org for more details regarding times, dates, and signup deadlines. Don’t limit yourself to traditional triathlons; you can find an event that best suits your abilities, needs, and training module length. The commitment to greatness is huge, but the rewards are even bigger. Dream BIG!

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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: Thomas' Corner running group training swimming triathlon biking triathlon training program Go Girl

You Can Do It! NIFS Training Helps You Meet Your Goals (Part 1 of 2)

Greetings! With spring right around the corner, it would seem appropriate to check in on some of your personal goals or resolutions you might have made over the last few months. How are you doing? I would imagine some are doing better than others, but you still have time to make significant change from here on out.

What keeps us from continuing our programs or “falling off the wagon?” Do the results not come fast enough? Do you not have the drive to finish the tough workout after a long day? Do you feel like you are all alone at the gym? If you are second-guessing yourself after those questions, you might need a reboot at the gym, a refocus on yourself. But also think about how group training can benefit your wellness both physically and mentally.

Small Group Training: All the Benefits of a Personal Trainer at a Lower Price

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Small Group Training at NIFS is a service for individuals who want the personal touch, accountability, and flair associated with working with a personal trainer, minus one big thing—the elephant in the room—the price tag. Being able to work directly with a trainer has its benefits, but also comes with a sticker price. One of the appeals of group training is that it makes a premium service affordable. Could you use the extra motivation? Does having set appointments offer accountability and help you keep commitments? Although you are sharing your trainer, there is plenty of opportunity for knowledge, technique, and personalization of your workout experience.

Work Out with Your Friends!

When you participate, you immediately will notice that there are others just like you (same goals, struggles, likes, and dislikes). Completing workouts becomes more doable with the backing of others. You get to know these people and they become your second family and support system at the gym. After a long, hard day at work, going to the gym might not seem appealing until you remember that all your friends are there!

Customized Workouts That Make Use of the Whole Gym

Finally, your group trainer will have the workouts ready for you when you get to the gym. Forget about coming to the gym and doing the elliptical for 30 minutes and calling it a day. Your workouts will enable you to experience your fitness center fully, so that you get the most out of your time, effort, and money. Expanding your own personal exercise library can have its benefits, too, especially when you are on your own and want to get creative with your routine.

Ultimately, we want you to succeed with your fitness goals. Being able to utilize group training is an asset at your doorstep; all you have to do is open the door! NIFS Small Group Training can be purchased at the NIFS Service Desk. Before you take that step, contact the NIFS Track Desk to set up a strategy session and fitness testing (both complementary with your membership) to ensure that your goals and health are in line with group training. Now is your time! Take control of your fitness and see the change.

In part 2 of this blog, you’ll see how NIFS training can help you with the huge goal of doing a triathlon.

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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 motivation resolutions group training accountability personal trainer

Five Reasons to Try the Turkish Get-up Movement

You might have seen people in the gym lying on the ground and standing up with a weight. Don’t let them fool you; this is not as easy as it looks. This is a movement that has been around since the strongman days, and there is a reason it hasn’t left. The Turkish get-up (TGU) is a total-body workout that everyone should try. Here are five reasons I think you should try it.

 

  • Stability. The TGU promotes shoulder stability along with core stability. If you cannot maintain either, you will not be successful when increasing weight. Before you even add weight to the TGU, you should be able to do the exercise while balancing your shoe (or something similar) on your fist when completing the get-up without it falling off. Once you can be stable enough to balance the shoe throughout, keeping your arm straight, you are stable enough to add weight.
  • Hits every movement plane. During your workouts, your goal should always be to train in every plane. When doing the TGU, you can hit every plane. You are in frontal, sagittal, and transverse—there aren’t many moves that enable you to hit all three at once.
  • Works your core. The TGU effectively trains the core in more than one area. Your entire trunk has to fire in order to maintain stability throughout the movement.
  • Cardio. Once you start to lift a heavier kettlebell, the TGU can become taxing on your cardiovascular system. Even though you are making small, controlled movements, your heart rate increases.
  • Everything is working! The TGU is a total-body movement. You work your shoulders, legs, and core—strength and mobility/flexibility. If you are short on time and can get in only a few strength exercises, this is one you should do.

Don’t knock the TGU until you try it. This is a challenging and effective exercise that everyone should add to their routines. If you need any help on form, stop by the track desk and have a NIFS HFS help you out!

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This blog was written by Kaci Lierman, NSCA-CPT, CFSC, NASM-CES,CAFS, personal trainer. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio core exercises total-body workouts movement stability