Quote of the Month

“As within, so without.”

By this, I simply mean that our outside world is a direct reflection of our inside world. Consider it  a mirror, a result, of our inner world. Therefore, if you want to change your outer world, you need to change your inner world.

The one thing in life that we, as humans, have complete control over is our thoughts. Changing our inner world starts with changing our thoughts.   Almost everything that occurs in our lifetime is directly realted to our thoughts or the way we view things.  Our thoughts will determine our feelings, our feelings will in turn,  determine our actions, and our actions will determine our success. 

This goes hand & hand to the law of cause & effect stating that for every effect in our life, there is a cause.  Knowing & understanding this law should give us a complete sense of control because we understand that we are the ones that control our thoughts (thoughts being our causes and conditions or outcomes of those thoughts, the effects).

Therefore, in order to have positive outcomes in our life, we must start with postitve thoughts.    Think that you will be successful and you will be, think that you can lose weight and you will lose weight.  If you don’t think that you can, you can’t and you won’t.  In addition, your thoughts will also have an effect on the type of people you are surrounded by.  If you think unhappy, angry thoughts, you’ll attract unhappy, angry people.  If you think success, you’ll be surrounded by successful people.  None of this has anything to do with luck, it ALL has to do with your thoughts. You will become what you think about.   The inside is the part you can control, and the external you can, but ONLY by changing the inside workings.  If you change your thinking, you’ll change your life.

Travel Circuit Routines

It’s summertime, and  to many, this is prime vacation time.  Even though it’s swimsuit season, many people still have a hard time sticking to their normal workout routine due to hectic work/travel schedules.  So if you were going to use the fact that you are going on vacation and going to be away from the gym as your excuse for not working out, think again. I have 3 different circuits here that each target your major muscle groups that you can use when traveling and have very limited equipment. 

1.

3×15 Burpees + Jump (regular burpee with an added squat jump when you come back to standing for each rep)

3×15 Tricep Push Ups

3×10 Push Up Plank Knee Ins with Hip Extension (In a push up plank position, lift your left leg up squeezing your left glute.  From here, drive the left knee into your chest and then extend it back out.  Repeat this 10 times then switch to the right leg.  Remember:  during the 10 reps, the leg never touches the ground so that your glute is engaged each time you extend it back.  Also, be sure that you are not rocking forwards and backwards as your knee drives in & out.  Keep the upper body & core stable throughout the movement.                                                                         

2.

Sprint 1 min, jog for recovery for 90s (Repeat 6 times for a total of 15 minutes.  Be sure to include a 5 minute warm up & cooldown)

Reverse Lunges + Balance (Start feet together then step the left foot back for a reverse lunge.  Left leg should be at a 90 degree angle for the lunge then exhale and drive the left knee up so that you are balancing on the right left.  Squeeze the right glute & keep your core tight to find better balance and stabilizaion.  From the balanced position, take the left leg straight back to the reverse lunge again.  Burn out the left leg first so 15 lunges on the left followed by 15 on the right).

3×15 Leg Lowers (Lying with your back on the mat, start with your legs extended straight up in front of you. If you have extremely tight hamstrings realize that you may not be able to get them straight up.  From here, lower them down to the floor slowly focusing on keeping your core tight.  If you start to feel it in your lower back, immeditely exhale & raise them back up.  If not, lower them as low to the floor as you can without having for feet touching then exhale as you raise them back up for one rep). Note: Your back should not arch as you lower your legs down.  Instead you should be stable throughout your entire trunk.

3×15 Side Plank w/ Crunch (Holding a side plank position…that would be stabilizing yourself on one elbow, shoulder being aligned directly above the elbow, lift your hips up off of the mat as you exhale and drop them down on the inhale.  Be sure you drop down in a controlled manner rather than just falling.  You will feel this in the obliques).

3.

3×15 Step Ups on a Bench (or even park bench if outside)

3×15 Lateral Band Walks (Put the exercise band around your ankles.  Keeping your core tight step laterally with your right foot then bring your left foot to meet the right.  Repeat 15x on each side.  Be sure to make sure you step with your hips and toes facing straight forward so that you are not opening up your hips or externally rotating your leg.  This way you will get more glute activation!).  These are super cheap and great to have…http://www.performbetter.com/detail.aspx_Q_ID_E_3893

3x45s Resistance Band Rows (If you’re in a park, wrap the band around a pole or fence.  Exhale as you pull the band back for a row). If you don’t have any resistance bands, these work great… http://www.performbetter.com/detail.aspx_Q_ID_E_4106_A_CategoryID_E_361

So next time you’re traveling, you have no exuse not to workout.   All of these can be done without the use of dumbbells, cables, etc.  Of course, if you do have access to dumbbells, you can certainly incorporate them in the workouts as well.  Enjoy! : )

Eat more Kale

Kale is a leafy green vegetable that has tremendous health benefits.

One cup contains 34 calories, 6.7g of carbohydrates, 2.2g of protein, 0.5g of fat & 1.3g of dietary fiber.  It is rich in Vitamins K, A, & C as well as minerals manganese, copper, potassium & calcium.

If you’re looking for a good way to incorporate it into your diet, try this recipe!

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-burrell/sauteed-kale-recipe/index.html

Eccentric Contractions

Simply put, an eccentric contraction is the lengthening of a muscle.  For example, if you’re doing a biceps curl, the eccentric contraction occurs while you are releasing the arm back down to your side from the flexed position it was in.  The muscle is not increasing in length as if it were being stretched, but just returning to resting length.

In the fitness world, eccentric muscle action is also known as a negative.  The term “negative” was derivied from the fact that in eccentric movement, work is actually being done on the muscle rather than the muscle doing the work (or the muscle moving forces).  To paint a clearer picture, imagine that you are doing a dumbbell chest press.  Work is being done (due to the forces of gravity) as you lower the arms down.  This is negative work.  Whereas, for the concentric contraction, you are doing the work (muscles are moving forces) as you press the dumbbells back up and together.   This owns to the fact that eccentric motion moves in the same direction as the resistance is moving.  You can turn the focus to eccentric contractions in almost any exercise.

The following are some of my favorites…

  • Negative Push-ups (slow on the way down)
  • Negative Tricep Push-ups (slow on the way down)
  • Negative Pullups  (slow on the way down)
  • Negative Cable Rows (slow as you release the cable)
  • Negative Squats (slow on the way down)

For these exercises, try keeping your muscles under eccentric tension for 4 seconds to start out with.  So for the push-ups, that would be lowering down for 4 seconds (eccentric contraction), then exhaling and pushing up (concentric contraction) following the 4 seconds.  Once this becomes easy, increase the time under tension to 6 seconds.

Here’s a chest/triceps circuit to try involving an eccentric contraction:

Dumbbell Chest Press 3×12

Negative Tricep Push Ups 3×6  (4-6 FULL seconds under tension for each rep)

Tricep Push Downs 3×12

(*Note: Depending on the type of training you are going for, you can switch up the rep/set scheme.  Also, your muscles react to the amount of tension put on them as well as the time under tension.  This is why the speed at which you perform each rep DOES MATTER.  I make sure my clients are always performing movements in a slower, controlled manner (especially when weight is involved).  This also keeps the exercise much safer on the muscles and joints, whereas injury is more likely when exercises are performed too fast and with bad form).

Another positive about eccentric contractions is that they require the use of much less energy than concentric contractions because fewer muscle fibers are recruited here.  With fewer muscle fibers being recruited, less oxygen is needed and the overall energy cost of performing the work is lower.    If more energy is “saved” when lowering, more can be transferred back to the concentric part of the lift.  If you’re routine is geared towards strength and power training, increasing eccentric strength may help improve concentric performance for a given lift.

Just a heads up…

By incorporating “negative” exercises in your next workout, you’ll notice that you’ll be a little  more sore than usual.  This is because eccentric activity is known for developing DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). DOMS refers to the soreness that accompanies exercise 24-72 hours following exercise. With this being said, if you are fairly new to exercise, I wouldn’t suggest incorporating an eccentric training focus into your routine just yet.

Quick Tip for Runners

Don’t run the first mile of your race too fast.  Even though you always feel the best at the start, pace yourself.

Running too fast at the beginning of a race will cause a dramatic slow down during the latter segments of the race and result in a disappointing finish.  The faster you run the first mile of a race, the more your muscles rely on anaerobic metabolism to produce energy. This means that energy is being produced by carbohydrates with lactic acid being the by-product.  Anaerobic metabolism is used for short, higher intensity bursts of activity, lasting no longer than several minutes.  Following several minutes, the by-product, lactic acid build-up reaches what is known as lactic threshold.  At this point, the production of lactate is greater than the amount being removed from your working muscles.   This is when muscle pain, burn, & fatigue set in, making it difficult to maintain this same intensity.

For your next race, try to avoid that adrenaline rush that makes you want to run at a much faster pace than normal.  Ideally, the second half of the race should be equal to, or slightly faster than that of the first half.

Regardless if you’re running a 5k or a half-marathon, if you start the race too fast, the anaerobic metabolism that occurs during those first several minutes will force you to slow down at some point throughout the race.  In the end,  you’ll only lose more time than what you “gained” at the start.

Note:  I suggest using a GPS as a pacing aid

References: Running Errors and How to Correct Them by Jason Karp