NIFS Healthy Living Blog

An October Workout with 6 Spooky Exercises

Can you believe that Halloween is here? Last week in the grocery store checkout line, I was gently reminded that it is that time of year again by the hoards of chocolate bars and candy corn on the counter. I thought back to what I did last year, besides the typical handing out candy and trick or treating at some friends’ homes, and remembered something I could share with you: A SPOOKY WORKOUT!

Here are the six “Halloween exercises” for your spooky workout!

Scary Black Cat:

  • This is an exercise for the lumbar region of the back. Go down on all fours, being sure that your elbows and wrists are directly under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips. Arch your back upwards, hold for three seconds, then let the lower back sag and hold for three seconds as well. Do five in each direction.
IMG_0970     IMG_0971
 
Creepy Crawler:
  • Starting on all fours in a high plank position, you will bring your right knee up and out toward your right elbow as your left hand extends forward. Try to stay low to the ground as you alternate sides.

IMG_0976       IMG_0974
 

Witch Ride:

  • Start with your feet staggered and your back toe on the ground. Hold a resistance band (attached to something higher than the level you are standing at) with both hands. Descend straight down, bringing the “broom” (band) by your side. Repeat ten times on each side.
     
IMG_0978       
 

Full Moon:

  • Take a medicine ball and slam the ball on your right side. Then you will lift the ball overhead and slam it straight down, and finish by slamming the medicine ball above your head down on your left side.
IMG_0987       IMG_0985


Pumpkin Swing:

  • Hold the pumpkin (kettlebell) with both hands in proper swing form. At the bottom of the swing, your forearms should touch the quads, allowing the bell to almost hit you in the glutes. Keeping the core tight, thrust the hips forward and tighten the glutes at the end of the swing.
IMG_0992       IMG_0993
BOOty Lift:
  • Lay on your back with your hands by your side and your feet flat on the floor close to your butt. Squeeze the BOOty to lift your hips off the ground, making your body flat like a tabletop. Return to the starting position and repeat.

IMG_0995       IMG_0998

I hope that you are able to enjoy this SPOOKY Halloween workout! DO NOT BE AFRAID! ENTER THE HALLOWEEN WORKOUT ZONE IF YOU DARE! After a good warm-up, try going through each round three times, and finish with a cool-down.

While you're getting in the Halloween spirit, check out these other posts:

Plan for a Safe Halloween
Fitness Tricks and Treats
Topics: workouts kettlebell exercises

Exploring the Versatile Landmine Attachment for Powerlifting

“How can I better utilize the landmine attachment?” This is a question we hear regularly, but are sometimes limited by our own fitness exercise library. The landmine is actually quite versatile and functional in nature. Here I explore the Landmine and some of the many exercises that link several facets of fitness into one unique experience. From functional movements to powerlifting accompaniment, the Landmine is sure to boost your workout with new approaches to old exercises.

What Is a Landmine Attachment? 

According to opexfit.com, “The landmine attachment is a piece of gym equipment invented by Bert Sorin of Sorinex. It’s an adapter that attaches to a weightlifting rack that holds a barbell in one end, leaving the other end free for loading and moving.”

Upper-body Exercises with the Landmine Attachment

For these exercises, you will need a 45lb Olympic bar, a Landmine attachment, and any additional weights to add (for increased difficulty). I suggest beginning with just a bar (remember, it does weigh 45lb!).

  1. Two-handed Shoulder Press: With two hands, press the bar overhead.
  2. One handed Bent-Over Row: With one hand, hinging at the waist, grab the bar and row upward.

Lower-body Exercises with the Landmine Attachment

  1. Sumo Squat: With a wider than normal foot placement, hold the bar in two hands with arms extended. Do a squat pattern.
  2. Single-leg RDL: While standing on one foot, bar in one hand, hinge at the waist, and then return to standing

Core Exercises with the Landmine Attachment

  1. Trunk Twist: Standing in athletic position, make a “windshield wiper” while holding the bar overhead.
  2. Half-kneeling Trunk Twist: This is the same as the trunk twist, except now you are in a half-kneeling position.
  3. Half-kneeling Press: From the half-kneeling position, press upward (not unlike a shoulder press), press the weight up and slightly past the top position, achieving anti-rotational stability.
HubSpot Video

As you can see, the Landmine is a great, multifaceted tool for us to enjoy not only functional fitness, but also massive muscle “gainz”. All kidding aside, please explore the Landmine and its numerous features. Be creative and try new exercises. If you are getting stumped and need a fresh routine, look no further than a NIFS Health Fitness Instructor. We can help with all of your fitness needs including setting goals, benchmark fitness testing, exercise programming, and more! See you at NIFS!

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

Topics: Thomas' Corner equipment weightlifting exercises powerlifting fitness equipment

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

HubSpot Video

Upper-Body Prehab Exercise Video

HubSpot Video

Lower-Body Prehab Exercise Video

HubSpot Video

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.

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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 videos mobility joints movement stability prehab

Plyometric Push-up Variations to Spice Up Your Workout

Hello NIFS Friends! With a show of hands, who loves push-ups? Well if you are one of those people who just isn't into push-ups (or if you are someone who just wants to spice up your workout routine), there is a wide array of push-up variations that can not only make you better at push-ups, but will also keep your workouts fresh and exciting. For these exercises, we are using a plyometric theme throughout.

Plyometrics are generally done with the lower body (think box jumps) to develop power through rapid stretching and contracting of a muscle group. Developing this type of power is great for athletes looking to gain a little quickness for their sport, as well as older athletes looking to maintain strength and muscle functionality. 

Give these exercises a try in your next workout and let us know what you think! Enjoy. 

  • Standard Push-up on boxes
  • Bias Push-up
  • Depth Push-up
  • Incline Push-ups
HubSpot Video

 

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

Topics: Thomas' Corner workouts exercises videos plyometric push-ups

Training Movement Pattern Variations: The Push

GettyImages-891407532In my previous blogs I discussed the four movement patterns that all training fits into. I then went on to talk about scheduling a training plan using the four movement patterns. In this post I will discuss one of the more popular patterns: the pushing movement pattern.

What the Pushing Movement Pattern Does

The first thing we must discuss is what muscles the pushing pattern works and why we should incorporate it into your training plan. This movement pattern works the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and triceps. These muscles are all responsible for pushing objects away with your upper body. These muscle groups are the primary movers for activities of daily living: lifting items over your head, holding your kids, or pushing other shoppers out of the way on Black Friday.

Training the pattern instead of individual muscle groups is useful because of time efficiency. For gym-goers who don’t have two hours to spend at the gym seven days per week, it doesn’t make sense to train one muscle group per day. That would not be the best use of your time. Training one to two movement patterns will ensure that you hit multiple muscle groups with fewer exercises. The reason for this is that correctly chosen exercises can work multiple muscle groups at the same time.

Exercises for Pushing Movements

The following exercises, organized by muscle group, help you work the pushing movement pattern.

Chest

  • Pushups
  • Bench Press
  • Incline Bench Press
  • Decline Bench Press
  • Dumbbell Variation of all the movements
  • Machine Variations of all the movements
  • Pec Fly

Shoulders

  • Barbell, Dumbbell, or Kettlebell Overhead Press
  • Military Press
  • Push Press
  • Olympic Push and Split Jerk
  • Arnolds Press
  • Machine Overhead Press
  • Lateral and Frontal Raises
  • Rear Delt Fly

Triceps

  • Close Grip Bench
  • Skull Crushers
  • Dumbbell Kickbacks
  • Triceps Extension
  • Dips (bench, assisted, and bodyweight)
  • JM Press

Movements That Work More Than One Muscle Group

As I stated before, there is also some overlap in muscle groups with some movements. Unless it is a complete isolation move, there will be some muscle recruitment across the whole upper body. For example, the barbell bench press is primarily a chest movement; however, the lockout of the arms is dominated by the triceps. The role of the chest is to push the bar off the chest, but once it reaches a certain height, the triceps take over. The same can be said for any overhead pressing as well. This is what makes training within muscle groups so time efficient. Isolation movements are best left for the end of the workout.

For more information on how to properly progress and structure a training program, visit us at the track desk to set up a session. We are more than happy to help at any time, and as a part of your membership here at NIFS, you can receive as many free workout programs as you would like. Our health fitness professionals tailor all programs to your fitness goals.

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This blog was written by Evan James, NIFS Exercise Physiologist EP-C, Health Fitness Instructor, and Personal Trainer. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: muscles personal training exercises movement patterns push

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.”

HubSpot Video

 

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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: NIFS fitness center strength stretching exercises coaching athletes

“Be My Valentine” HIIT Workout

_68R1966-1Love to workout and need a date idea for Valentine’s Day? We have just the workout for you!

  • AMRAP in 30 seconds followed by a 1-minute rest after each exercise
  • Equipment: 2 “heavy” dumbbells, 2 “light” dumbbells, and a yoga mat
  • Total Time: ~ 20 min

Circuit #1

  • Dumbbell Thruster (squat with an overhead press)
  • Glute Bridge (option for dumbbell on hips)
  • Russian Twist (option to add dumbbell)
  • Alternating Side Lunge with Forward Shoulder Raise

Repeat circuit twice

 Circuit #2

  • Renegade Row (push-up on dumbbells with alternating single-arm row)
  • Dumbbell Floor Press
  • Burpee
  • Forward Lunge (option to add dumbbell)

Repeat circuit twice

Spread the love and share this workout with your Valentine!

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This blog was written by Payton Gross, Group Fitness Coordinator and Barre Above Instructor. Learn more about the NIFS bloggers here.

Topics: workouts holidays circuit workout HIT exercises programs HIIT workout buddy circuit training valentine's day

Optimal Movement Patterns for Building Muscle

Screen Shot 2021-01-14 at 1.10.19 PMThe traditional bodybuilding split of working one muscle group per day might work for the dedicated, high-level competitive bodybuilder who makes their living in the gym. But for the general population only looking to shed some unwanted pounds and improve their overall health, the traditional bodybuilding split is not ideal. Working multiple muscle groups in the same session is much more ideal because it ramps up the body’s metabolism more than working a single muscle group each day. To achieve this, we train the movement, not the muscles.

The Four Movement Patterns

There are four main categories in which we categorize the movement patterns: push, pull, squat, and hinge. Each category works a movement while working multiple muscle groups.

Push

This upper-body movement pattern uses all of your “pushing” muscles. The pushing muscles of the upper body include the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Common movements within this category include the following:

Pull

This upper-body movement pattern uses the “pulling” muscles. The pulling muscles of the upper body include the lats and the biceps. There are two different pulling variations, the horizontal pull and the vertical pull. The horizontal pull targets the lower lats and the vertical pull targets the upper portion of the lats. It is important to include both variations in your program. Common movements within this category include the following:

Squat

The squat movement pattern is the pushing movements pattern for the lower body. The squat pattern mainly works the quadriceps and the glutes. This category also includes all single-leg movements. The squat pattern is a large compound movement that should be progressed properly. Common movements in this category include the following:

Hinge

The hinge movement pattern is the pulling movement pattern for the lower body. The hinge pattern is better known as the deadlift. The primary muscles worked during the hinge movement are the hips, hamstrings, and lower back. The deadlift is another exercise that should be progressed properly for safe lifting. On days that you work the hinge pattern, you should do some additional hamstring isolation movements. Common movements for the hinge pattern include the following:

Using the Movement Patterns

Knowing that there are four movement patterns, and which movement pattern works which muscle group, you can build your exercise routines. In a future blog, I will discuss why the full-body program is superior, and how to schedule your week using the movement patterns. In short, you can build your exercise routine by putting together two or more of the movement patterns in one day. After working a muscle group, you don’t want to work that same muscle group for at least 48 hours.

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If you need any help building an exercise program, or want a health professional or personal trainer to put one together for you, come visit us at the Track Desk at any time.

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This blog was written by Evan James, NIFS Exercise Physiologist EP-C, Health Fitness Instructor, and Personal Trainer. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: weight loss muscles weight lifting weightlifting exercises building muscle movement squat leg day movement patterns pull hinge push

Shiny Penny! How Band Distraction Can Improve Your Mobility

Band StretchWhether you’re a competitive athlete, a weekend warrior, or the casual gym-goer, addressing mobility concerns can go a long way toward performance enhancement and injury prevention. If a joint is unable to move through a complete range of motion unloaded, then it’s going to be “bad news bears” when it comes to putting that same joint under any external load. Eventually, limited mobility could lead to muscular imbalances and compensation patterns, which could ultimately lead to the onset of injury. In other words, you can’t look to build strength on top of dysfunction.

How Band Distraction Works

There are numerous ways to tackle mobility, and it’s a heck of a lot more than just lying on a mat, hitting some static stretches for 10 minutes, and calling it a day. One such technique, band or joint distraction, involves using resistance bands to specifically isolate and improve the way bones glide over each other within a joint. This is accomplished by separating the articulating surfaces to allow for synovial fluid (the body’s homemade version of WD-40) to fill the joint and allow for less friction and (hopefully) increased motion. In other words, it creates “space” inside the joint complex. Band distraction can be used with nearly any joint in the body; however, the usual suspects are typically the ankle, hip, and shoulder.

Examples of Mobility Drills Using Band Distraction

Screen Shot 2021-01-07 at 12.35.58 PMHere are a few specific examples of band-distracted mobility drills:

  1. World’s Greatest Stretch
  2. Pigeon Stretch
  3. Half-Kneeling Ankle
  4. Shoulder Girdle (2 versions)

Important Tips

A few things to keep in mind when utilizing band distraction on a joint:

  • Be sure to anchor the resistance band to an immovable post, squat rack, etc.
  • Position matters! Be sure the band is placed over the correct structures, usually the crux of the joint or as close to it as possible.
  • This is one piece of the mobility puzzle. Pair this technique with soft-tissue work (foam rolling, trigger-point therapy, etc.) as well as a thorough dynamic warmup to encourage adequate blood flow and maximize readiness.
  • You don’t need to stretch each area for an eternity. Try 30 seconds to start on each structure.

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This blog was written by Lauren Zakrajsek, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer, and Internship Coordinator. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: shoulders injury prevention resistance exercises mobility joints hip mobility ankle mobility exercise bands band distraction

CON-ISO-ECC: Muscle Contractions for Weightlifting Variations

GettyImages-1219375851Your return to the gym will likely mean a return to the program that you were originally doing before your extended break. Exercise selection, reps, and rest periods may be altered slightly after time off; however, eventually you will be back to your pre-quarantine strength and power, among other athletic traits. When you think about that program and how it got you to the point you are at or will be in the near future, do you also think about the steps you will take to further advance your abilities? I’m here to break down a few ways specifically within the muscle that may help give you the variety to your program you are looking for.

There are three main types of muscular contractions that can happen, each of which serves a specific purpose for muscular growth, strength, and power. They are

  • Concentric
  • Isometric
  • Eccentric

Concentric

Concentric muscular contractions are generally the most common type that individuals focus on during their training sessions. Concentric contractions involve the shortening of the muscle during an exercise. If you imagine a lift, say the bench press, the act of pushing the weight up from your chest actively shortens the muscle. The pulling of a bent-over row or the ascent of the barbell back squat all utilize this contraction. An uncommon variation would be to slow down the movement, for example slowing the pulling movement of the bar during a Lat Pulldown. If it normally takes you 1–2 seconds to pull down the bar, try a 5-count with the same weight. The intensity will greatly increase.

Isometric

Isometric contractions are an underrated variation that people most often forget about during workout planning. Instead of a shortening movement like the concentric contraction, the isometric contraction actually involves the muscle staying at the same length during the work period. A simple variation of this contraction is a wall sit. The muscle never changes length, but the tension and effort build over time.

But the quality of this contraction is found in much more than just wall sits. Almost any exercise can utilize this method. Here are a few of my favorite variations using isometric contractions. The intensity of the holds in these lifts can be dictated by either the amount of weight or the time you hold it for.

  • Split Squat Holds (hold split squat in down position with knee off the ground)
  • Push-Up Holds (hold push-up in the “down” position; try at different heights!)
  • Pull-Up Holds (either chin over bar or with arms hanging straight)

Eccentric

The last contraction variation in this trio is the eccentric contraction. This is commonly thought of as the lowering or lengthening of the muscle during an exercise. Going back to the bench press example earlier, the bar lowering to the chest would be the eccentric contraction. Where this method is most useful is during time-under-tension exercises where you increase the amount of time that you lengthen the muscle during the lift. These are all about control and can get quite intense.

Similar to the isometric contractions, time is everything. For example, when you do a step-up and are coming down off of the box, try to control for 3–5 seconds before your foot hits the ground instead of coming down right away. Here are a few of my favorite variations on eccentric contraction exercises:

  • Incline Dumbbell Press (lowering the weight slowly and raising it at a normal pace)
  • Slider Leg Curls (pushing feet out in a slow and controlled motion)
  • Glute Ham Raises (slow on the way down)

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The variations are not limited to this list. Feel free to get creative with any of your favorite exercises when trying out the different muscular contractions. Remember, time is your friend with any method you choose and can match any intensity you are trying to achieve.

This blog was written by Alex Soller, Athletic Performance Coach and NIFS trainer. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: workouts muscles weight lifting weightlifting exercises power muscle building strength training variety workout programs