Partial reps are very common in a gym – whether that be intentional or unintentional. Partial repetitions occur when a lifter utilizes only a portion of the entire range of motion available. For example, look at the bench press. A normal range of motion for bench press is starting with elbows locked out at the top, touching the barbell on the chest, then returning the barbell to the locked out position. A partial repetition would be completed if the range of motion was shortened to a non-locked out position of the elbows.

At first glance partial reps may seem incorrect, but These “half reps” can be beneficial and lead to strength or muscle gains when used correctly. For instance, utilizing partial repetitions could be necessary for advanced lifters who have reached a plateau and would like to overcome it. Specifically in the bench press, you could load a bar to more than 100% of the weight you can lift through the full range of motion, and concentrate on the lowest portion of the movement, providing a “Supra-maximal” stimulus to increase strength in that range. Obviously, a good spotter is essential when utilizing this technique. 

The over-utilization of partial repetitions could lead to shortening of soft tissue and ultimately the restriction of normal range of motion. So be sure to choose their implementation them wisely!

Now that the warm weather is here it’s time to increase your water intake to keep up with the demands of your busier schedule. Our evenings are becoming filled with more and more activities. The nicer weather and longer daylight hours allow us to get more done! With all of this increased activity it’s easy to forget that we need to take in more water to compensate for your extra energy expenditure. These few tips are easy ways to make sure you stay hydrated:

  • Make a goal: a good place to start for water consumption can be determined by this equation

body weight ÷ 2 = # oz

(i.e. 150lbs ÷ 2 = 75oz recommended)

  • Take a water bottle with you wherever you go
  • Order a water anytime you are at a restaurant waiting to order
  • Eat more fruits and veggies (20% of your daily water comes from food sources)

Staying hydrated this summer is as easy as implementing one or any of these options listed above. What’s your favorite way to keep hydrated during the busier months?

Now that the weather’s nice it’s time to clean up those flower beds and get your garden ready for the season. Does your back start to hurt just thinking about all the bending and lifting? It doesn’t have to! Use these tips to care for your low back before, during and after gardening!

Before:

Warmup: walk around the block for 10 minutes to get your body ready for what’s to come

Stretch: pull your knee into your chest alternating left to right 5 times each side

Bend: since you’ll be leaning forward a lot, do a few, controlled backbends (place your hands at the base of your back for support)

During:

DO: use your legs; if you are picking something up off the ground squat down to pick it up with your legs

DON’T: use your back; avoid rounding your back to pick things up or crouching when digging or weeding

DO: use your upper body; if you are weeding or planting, use a foam pad for your knees and use your hand for support while digging or pulling

DON’T: go hours without a break or stretching; taking a break will save your body from the aches

DO: hydrate; set a timer for 25 minutes to grab a glass of water and stretch it out

After:

Cooldown: take a walk to reset your body to it’s best posture

Stretch: lie on your back and pull your knees into your chest, rock slowly left to right to massage out the muscles that are tight

Cold Compress: if you end up with sore muscles take bag of ice and put it on your low back for 15 minutes

It’s Spring! Are You Still On Track to Reach Your Goals?

A few months ago you set goals. How close are you to reaching those goals today? Close? Great! Take this time to dial them in and get them done!

Not close? That’s okay! Take a seat, write down your goals, share them with your accountability partner, and knock them out! Just like you go through your house for Spring Cleaning, go through your daily routine and clean it up!

Here are some ways to get back on track this spring:

1. Drink water when you are eating out instead of ordering that sugary drink

2. Go to bed half an hour earlier to get closer to 8 hours of sleep

3. Get outside! Go for a walk or get some yard work done

These simple tricks can add up and put you back in the game! Treat Spring as your take two and accomplish those goals!

Rebecca Brown

Start SMART in 2018!

December 28, 2017

Considering a change in 2018? Good for you! Let’s throw some fuel on that little fire and set some goals to where you want to go. Every journey, big and small, needs a map, so let’s get S.M.A.R.T.

S is for “Specific.” Where you want to go must be well-defined to know exactly what you are shooting for. “I want to lose weight” is not specific enough. Nail it down with details. Decide how much weight you want/need to lose and write it down. “I want to lose 25 pounds”. Great! Your path is already more defined.

M is for “Measurable.” Being able to measure your progress is essential to staying motivated and knowing if your actions are worth your time, money, and effort. For example, fat-loss progress is easy to measure with a household scale and by monitoring how your clothes are fitting. Measuring also tells you when you have arrived at your goal!

A is for “Actions.” There must be verbs associated with your goal and they should read like the written directions to a map. This plan of actions is what you will do to get you to where you want to go.

Go to the gym to strength train. Keep a food log. Pack my lunch to take to work. Now these are good actions, but they don’t tell us much. Let’s add our “Specific” to these and see if we can get some details.

Go to the gym to strength train with Mandy on Tuesdays and Fridays at 6:30 am. (Better! Adding a friend for accountability and specific times for structure is a winner.) Keep a daily food log on my iPhone using the Lose It app. (Nice. Specified a “daily” log as well as the “how” you are going to measure the calorie intake.) Pack my lunch the night before to take to work. (Again, more specific actions create a more realistic path to success. You can see yourself doing it.)

R is for “Realistic.” Setting realistic goals and actions leads to a higher level of success, and what is realistic varies by the person. Now, I don’t like to squash anyone with huge goals, but I’ve seen too many people get discouraged by setting goals that are unreasonable. My recommendation is to take your big goal and break it into portions you can get your brain and life around. Take your goal to lose 60 pounds of fat and break it into 10 pound increments. Experience a little victory and then accelerate! Nothing is more powerful than momentum stemming from success, and that is what leads to big goals being achieved.

T is for “Time.” You must set a “when” to your goals. “I want to lose 25 pounds by spring break. Goals can float away if a timeline and deadline do not anchor them down. Humans get distracted, discouraged, and bored quickly, so attack your goals with a sense of urgency. Motivation can cool off fast, so strike while the iron is hot.

As you set your resolutions for 2018 make sure to be SMART when developing the plan for your success. Execute your plan one day at a time and you will arrive at your destination right when you planned you would.

Merry Fitness Gift Guide!

December 15, 2017

It’s time for the Merry Fitness Gift guide!  Let’s get to it!

For Beginners

One of your favorite people just got started this past Fall or planning to get started in the New Year?  Here are a few non-intimidating gifts to support their effort.

Water bottle ($10-50) – A  special water bottle is a great start to any fitness program !  You can pick any size, any color, any material (glass, metal, BPA-free plastic), any lid type, the list goes on!  Kleen Kanteen is the most popular brand I see in the gym this year. 

 

 

Headphones ($50-$200) – Lifters, runners, walkers, etc. love to move to their fave tunes.  This year it’s all about wireless!   There are tons to choose from with some offering great sound AND exercise stats like VO2 max (for the elite athlete).   Add in a gift card so they can download some new songs to move to.

Theracane – ($20) Got muscle knots?  The theracane is a hook-shaped tool that allows the user to massage even those hard to reach areas with little effort.  A simple tool that produces great results!

For the Regular Exerciser

For the last year your loved one has been hitting the gym or trail 2-3 days a week.  Consider these gift ideas to help them hit the next level.

 

Workout clothes– ($25- priceless) Take a chance and buy them a top, bottom, or jacket.  Old Navy and Target (C9 brand) offer lower price but still good performance, look, and quality, while Athleta and Lulu Lemon are higher priced but superior fit (ergonomic panels) and style.  (Note to men: if buying for a lady and don’t know her size 1. Look in her drawer for size, 2. ask her friends, or 3. guess smaller than you think.)

Foam Roller ($20-60)-  If your exerciser isn’t foam rolling they should be.  My favorite models this year are the Trigger Point mini roller and the Morph collapsible foam roller which are both travel friendly.

 

 

Wrist exercise tracker – ($50-$100) The wrist exercise tracker has morphed into a high-tech exercise trend!  Check out the Fitbit Flex 2, and TomTom Touch which look to be this year’s front run
ner’s for general fitness tracking at a good cost.  Your exerciser will love it!

Specific Shoes – ($80-150) Gift them shoes that are designed for their fave activity.  Running shoes are great but not the best when lifting heavy weights.  For Resistance Training, Small Group Training, Boot Camps, CrossFit I recommend a flat shoe or shoe with a very mild heel rise.  Simply look for shoes labeled “Training”.

For the Advanced

They’re super fit and have EVERYTHING fitness.  Try one of these.

Wrist wraps – ($8-10) Does he or she lift heavy stuff over their heads?  Get some wrist support for them, and they look cool!

Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad – ($8-10 ) During a hot workout, drape this little towel around your neck and to help you stay a bit cooler. Great stocking stuffer!

Oster Smoothie Blender – ($15-20)  Blend your smoothie right in your sport bottle.  Quick, fresh pre-workout, or post-workout nutrition anytime!

Exercise vest – ($50-$200)  Your person is so fit they need to carry extra weight to make their exercise more challenging.  Boom!  This is perfect!

TRX Go Trainer – ($129) For those who must never miss a workout, TRX has released a low-cost, high function travel version of their versatile “Fitness Anywhere” suspension straps.  Great for home or when on vaca.

Happy Gifting and Lifting!

Tricky Treats

November 2, 2017

Yay Halloween is such a fun holiday!  I like the costumes, and I like the jack-o-lanterns, but I LOVE the CANDY!!!  Yup, I’m human and I have my favorite treats too and now, like everyone with children in the house, my house is loaded with it.  It’s time to do the annual raid on the bags and get my “Dad tax” of candy.

Hold it.  We don’t need to go crazy on this.

We’re working on some fitness goals.

Let’s set some boundaries before we do something we’re going to regret.

  • If you can’t have a little without a total collapse of discipline then keep your mits out of the candy bag.  You know who you are so phone a friend for support and hold fast.  Seriously, call them.
  • Set a limit of how much you will eat.  I pick my 5 faves (usually a combo of Butter Finger and M&M’s).   Manage your damage with a little intentional play, but then STOP!
  • The leftover candy you were passing out needs to leave your house!  Give it away, throw it away, give it to the UPS driver, whatever!  Get it gone.  See #4 at the bottom for ideas.

 

 

Now, what to do with that HUGE bag of candy your child brought home.  None of us want our kids to eat    They would feel and act terrible.  At the same time, they worked hard for their bounty so just taking it really isn’t fair nor does it teach them anything positive.  Here are a few ways to handle this dilemma.

  1. Let them pick out their favorite pieces.  Sure, you can pick how many or ask them how many they feel is enough.  You might be surprised with how reasonable they are when given some input.   Then, involve them  in the disposal of the remainder (see #4).
  2. Let your kids trade it in for prizes.  I know a few parents that offer a bigger prize (not candy) in trade for the contents of the bag.  Be creative.  Think about what you child enjoys and make it an offer they can’t refuse.  An event, toy, gift card, or other “currency” of some nature.  It gives value to their effort and keeps the candy out of their body.
  3. Use the candy for something.  A brilliant father I know hosts a Dads and Kids gingerbread house competition around Christmas time.  Every team gets the same house kit, but can only decorate with candy they collected and brought from Halloween!  Pretty smart!
  4. Donate the candy!  There are several organizations/groups in our area that will distribute candy to those who could use a treat.  Let your kids pick! Some local dentists will even buy your candy and send it to soldiers serving us overseas.  Check out halloweencandybuyback.com.

 

This time of year is so much fun, but don’t dishonor you or your children’s bodies with an obscene amount of sweets.  Enjoy some of your favorites, then discard of the rest in a responsible way.  I hope you had a safe and Happy Halloween!

 

 

 

The Vacation Workout

July 18, 2017

It’s vacation time and you want to stay on track and workout while away.  Since you may not have access to gym equipment let’s keep it as simple.  Below is a workout that only requires 30 minutes of your time, a sturdy picnic table or park bench, a beach towel, and a buddy. Try it out!

Some notes before you start:

  1. Please check with your doctor before you begin a rigorous exercise program.
  2. During the workout you can always choose an easier position or do fewer repetitions if you feel you are working too hard. Try to keep going if there is “burning” but stop immediately if there is sharp pain.
  3. Check the integrity of the picnic table or bench you are about to put weight on. Make sure it is safe, and not occupied (awkward).  FYI:  if you’re home, Elm Street Green has HUGE, STRONG tables and benches!

Here is your workout with recommended reps and cues for safe, productive body position and motion.

3-5 minute brisk walk or jog – Make sure to move your arms to add to your warm-up.

20 Squats  – Back up to seat of table until backs of legs touch, feet set shoulder width apart. Bend knees and reach your hips back to sit on the seat while keeping your feet flat and posture up.  Reach arms forward to counter-balance if needed.  If too easy, walk forward away from the table to go deeper or add a jump at the top of the squat.

15-20 Push-Ups  -Choose between 3 heights:  table (easiest), seat (harder), ground (hardest).  Position hands shoulder-width apart on structure of choice with your body straight, legs locked, and tummy tight to support your back.  With your elbows wide, lower your chest to the structure, then push back up. Repeat until you are very tired but still in control.

20 Picnic Bench Step-Ups  (10/leg alternating) – Start by standing on the seat.  Step one foot off and lower to the ground, then bring that same foot back up.  Alternate.  You should always have a foot on the seat.  If this is too hard or too high, march in place for 40 high-steps, or repeat squats.

40 Beach towel rows (20 / side) – Face your partner, each of your holding an end of a beach towel in your right hand.  Now back away from each other until one of you has your arm extended and the other has an elbow bent next to your side.  Brace yourself by slightly bending your knees and tightening your abs, then pull the towel back and forth like the two of you are lumberjacks operating a two-person saw to saw through a log.  Work together to get the correct resistance, and don’t be too mean.   Repeat and do 20 reps with the other arm.

40 Mountain Climbers – Hands on picnic table in push-up position, either height.  Pull a knee to your stomach, then alternate and switch knees.

3-5 minute brisk walk/jog

This workout will not take long so feel free to repeat the exercises if you have the time and energy.  Repeat a third time if you are feeling spunky!

Please remember you are on vacation and I am an advocate for rest and relaxation, especially with your family.  Working out on vacation is great for you and noble, but  if you’ve been caring for yourself regularly with exercise, please feel free to take the week off and just “be”.  You may find yourself returning home in better condition than if you would’ve exercised.  Happy Vacation!

 

 

For another vacation workout check out Cody’s version

 

 

I’ve heard it said that “experience is the best teacher.” I learned a lot about heat exhaustion last week when I created the perfect scenario to experience it. Let me pass my new knowledge in the hopes that you and your loved ones stay safe in hot weather.

I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary for me. In fact, I had completed the same running workout three other times prior. Just a four mile run through the Village, around the rail trail, and back via Mulberry. It was a great temp outside. Just 74 degrees and partly cloudy around 2:30 p.m. that day. The run felt great. No issues. Even as I was slowing down I felt fine.  

Then I went inside to change my shoes.

I felt as if I had caught on fire. Sweating. Red faced.

Over the next hour, heat exhaustion and the unpleasant, dangerous symptoms stacked up:

• Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat

• Heavy sweating

• Dizziness

• Fatigue

• Weak, rapid pulse

• Low blood pressure when standing

• Muscle cramps

• Nausea with or without vomiting (apparently I signed up for “with”)

• Headaches

What was going on?

Heat exhaustion is level 2 of three heat-related health problems between heat cramps (muscles ache and cramp up), and heat stroke (you die from too high core temperature).

How does it happen? Combine strenuous physical activity and exposure to high temperatures, especially with high humidity and you get a scenario your body can’t control. When your body gets hot it keeps your insides cool by carrying heat to your skin with water (sweat). When the sweat evaporates the heat goes with it leaving you cooler and safer.

Humidity complicates the scenario. The higher the humidity the less water can evaporate from your skin, causing your bodies best cooling system to work two-to-three times harder costing your body two-to three times more water.

And this is what happened to me. A familiar and demanding workout. A pleasant outside temp, but, I overlooked the humidity which was 85 percent due to morning rain showers. My body purged water at a dangerous rate to keep me cool. I overheated.

What do you do?

1. Stop activity and rest.

2. Move to a cooler place

3. Drink cool water or sports drinks (Gatorade or Powerade type drinks, not energy drinks). Specificaly, half a cup every 30 minutes for two-to-six hours, depending on when your stomach settles down. Then as much as you can for another day.

But, hey, let’s be proactive and not get it.

• Stay hydrated: Dehydration reduces your body’s ability to sweat and maintain a normal temperature. Also, be cautious of caffeine, alcohol, salt, and sugar which can affect your body water.

• Dress for the conditions: If it’s hot and humid wear clothing that is light in color and weight. Watch baseball and football players who are fully dressed.

• Watch the weather: Pay special attention to the humidity or heat index (temp factoring in humidity). 90 F heat index or higher is dangerous!

• Take breaks: Get into the shade or go inside for a cool off.

Anyone can develop heat exhaustion. Learn from my oversights and prepare for the activity and the outside conditions properly to stay safe and have an awesome performance

Our local Farmer’s Market officially opens this weekend and what’s not to love?

 

The food is as fresh as it gets since – it’s grown close to home (more nutrient dense), and supports our local growers and economy.  As you prepare to fill your basket with healthy choices for you and your family, allow me to offer a few of my favorite “fit” foods that you can find at the Farmer’s Market, and the characteristics that land them on the list.

Eggs

While fragile in structure,
eggs are nutritional powerhouses.   A large egg provides 90 calories of energy, most calories coming from the yolk, and more than 6 grams of quality pro
tein which helps in balancing blood sugar and cell repair.  Eggs are also a “fit” food being high in choline, an essential element in preserving a strong link between your brain and your muscles.  For your metabolism, eggs are one of the few non-meat sources for B-12, and are also a strong source of the cancer fighting agent lutein.  Please look past the brown color and put some in your basket.

 

Spinach
Popeye was on to something!   1 cup of raw spinach boasts 100% of your daily need for vitamin K, 84% for the anti-oxidant manganese, and only 7 calories.  But what really makes it a “fit” food is the high levels of iron, magnesium, and phosphorous which promote strong bones, muscle repair, and energy production.  Add in some potassium to help regulate body water levels and blood pressure, and you can see why Popeye was strong to the finish.

Sweet Potatoes

Not quite a low calorie food at 105 calories per average size ‘tater, but these roots provide a great kick of energy and are low in fat and sodium.  Need more fiber?  1 sweet potato provides 15% of your daily need for fiber, encouraging digestive health and triggering a satisfying “fullness” after your meal.  Solidifying its place as a “fit” food, sweet potatoes brag 400% of your daily need for vitamin A for vision and immune health, while also providing generous levels of vitamin B-6 and potassium to help your metabolism and cardiovascular health. Sweeeeet!

Broccoli

Looking for a “free” food?  This is as close as it gets.  With very little calories, fats, or carbs you can pretty much eat as much broccoli as you want…as long as you don’t drench it in cheese.  1 cup of steamed broccoli provides 20% of your daily fiber needs, and has amazing levels of vitamins A, C, E, and K.  Broccoli also supplies essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6, and a nutrient combo that helps prevent sun damage to skin and promote bone strength.  This impressive list places it as my favorite “fit” food.

As I mentioned, Indiana offers a generous list of wonderful foods grown right here at home, and these are just a few.  Please take advantage of your local Farmer’s Market and add local foods and produce to your grocery list.  You, your family, and your town will all benefit.