Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's Not Always About the Gym

So many times I see people in the gym who are there an hour a day, busting their asses, and still not getting any results. They still weight the same they did and still have a high amount of body fat. They come to me frustrated, looking for new exercises or ways to train to get them the results they want. My usual response is to ask them what their life is like outside of the gym. How is their eating and what do they do at their job. More than not the eating is bad and the job is sedentary. Well, this is why the results are non-existent.

Think about it this way...there are 168 hours in a week. The average gym-goer spends about one hour, 3-4 days a week. So out of 168 hours, the average person is working out 3-4, maybe even 5 hours. That leaves 163 hours in a week that we have to mess up everything we did in the gym. If the majority of the time outside of the gym is spent sedentary, whether it be at work or at home on the couch, then we aren't going to be using the energy we need in order to lose the weight we want to lose. If we aren't eating properly, consuming healthy foods throughout the day, then we aren't going to see the results we want to see. Just because you bust your ass in the gym for an hour every day doesn't mean you earned the right to go to Wendy's and pig out. It doesn't mean you get to go home and sit on the couch all night.

If there is a goal you have and you are serious about achieving that goal then that means your whole life needs to be pushed in that direction, not just the 3 hours a week in the gym. Eat right all day long, go for walks, do some extra moving around at night. If you have a sedentary job, walk around the office every 15-20 minutes to get in that extra movement. If you need to, go get a pedometer and make sure your are getting about 10,000 steps a day. Make sure you are serious about reaching your goals and once you decide you are then figure out what you have to do to get there and DO IT. Yes, it's going to be hard and it's going to take some effort, but if you truly want it then there should be no excuses. Like Nike said, Just Do It.

*On another note, here is a blog by Tony Gentilcore about BOSU balls and their worthlessness.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Staying Foundational

Walk into any commercial gym across the country and you will see a number of trainers training at a time. More than not, you will see trainers using crazy movements and exercises, putting people in very complex positions, using equipment like bosu balls and kettlebells, or the like. For most of these trainers the clients they work with are those wishing to lose weight, and to be general, these people will lose weight just by doing something, no matter what it may be. I was thinking about this the other day and actually discussed it with a new client of mine. As exciting and attention getting all of these new pieces of equipment and crazy exercises are, they are just not needed. In my personal opinion, I feel that one can get a lot more out of basic, foundational movements than one would with some of the stuff seen around the country's gyms.

When I say basic and foundational movements I am referring to things such as the squat, deadlift, pushup, pullup, or plank. Each movement is a base. Squatting and deadlifting are not only compound movements that recruit a large amount of muscle, they are also used numerous times in our everyday life. Sitting and standing are forms of the squat. Lifting something at work or even your young child is a form of the deadlift. Just think of your normal day and I guarantee you there is a number of squats and deadlifts involved. As far as the upper body goes, the pushup is a great foundation for building "push" strength and the same goes for the pullup and "pull" strength. As far as our core goes, the plank is the best way to build that stability that we need, instead of doing hundreds of crunches on whatever piece of equipment we can get our hands on.

As I was talking to my client the other day, I was explaining how I tend to stay with these basic lifts and work into some simple variations. If these basic movements can not be performed flawlessly without weight then there is no reason to be adding in different implements and weights. I was also explaining how these basic movements build up strength throughout the body, including our stabilizers and core. I went on explaining the movements and the relevance to fat loss also came up.

In terms of fat loss, each of these movements recruit large amounts of muscle which means more calories are burned. Each exercise recruits the core which means more calories are burned. Each movement also builds muscle throughout the entire body which means more calories are burned. So all in all these movements will burn more calories then some movement which only uses a single muscle group.

When it comes down to it, so much can be achieved from basic movements and lifts. The movements I have talked about here are the foundations of every other movement or exercise seen in the gym. Master these first and get that base strength and then you can jump into some more advanced exercises.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Random Thoughts

I know it's been a while since I last posted. I have been busy training and what not. I figured I would make my return to the blog world with a few updates and thoughts.

I just started reading "Under The Bar" by Dave Tate and I am really enjoying it. The man has experienced a lot and to teach life lessons through lifting is the best idea I have ever come across. I feel like there can be a lot learned in the gym when it comes to how to be an overall good person. Dave Tate outlines this in his book and uses some great examples to articulate these lessons. I also purchased his second book, "Raising The Bar" and cannot wait to read it as well.

I have been training a lot lately and my clientele has picked up. I am starting to see some nice strength gains in a lot of my clients and am really excited about this. Come next week a few of my clients will be bumping it up a notch and starting into some interval training instead of the boring steady state they have been doing. I feel that a base has been built and they are ready for the next level Bring on the results.

I am also currently in the process of talking with KORT Physical Therapy about a PT Tech position. I don't know a whole lot about the position but it sounds like a great learning experience as well as some extra income. Can't beat that. I am always trying to increase my knowledge in every aspect of the field, so this would be a great way to get better insight in the world of rehab and corrective exercise. Not to mention I will be surrounded by intelligent people that I could constantly pick the brains of.

With the increased amount of training I have experienced over the last couple of weeks I have noticed that I lose about 3-4 pounds every night. Granted I gain that back by the time I return to the gym the next day it just sucks that I am constantly set back in my aspirations of gaining weight and size. I am working out some ideas to alleviate this problem right now since my time to eat is limited while training. Any suggestions, hit me up.

Just a little piece of motivation. NEVER stop bettering yourself. I have talked to a lot of people who explain that once they got married they stopped working out, or they got to a point where they were happy with their lives and let themselves go. DON'T let that happen. There is no point where we are good enough. I don't even like to say 'good enough' because I don't believe in it. I can always get stronger, I can always get smarter, I can always be a better friend, son, grandson, whatever. Complacency is a waste. Always strive for something better. I am not saying you can be happy or satisfied with where you are. What I am saying is don't let that satisfaction end your road of improvement. Satisfaction should only increase the drive to become better. Things are going to be tough; if they weren't then everyone would be perfect. Don't be the person that backs away from a challenge. Embrace challenges and use them to become what everyone thought you couldn't.

Friday, September 11, 2009


I am just entering into my second month as a full time personal trainer here at Urban Active. So far it hasn't been too bad. It's not my ideal place to be, but it's a good experience none the less. However, there has been one thing lurking in my thoughts for quite some time now. What this creature is is FEAR. There is constantly fear running through my mind and as much as this sounds like a bad thing I don't see it as such. Before I get into that however, let me explain this fear.

Everyday I come into the gym to workout followed by training. Some days I may train ten plus people. All of these people expect me to get them to their destination. Whether their destination is a beach body or maybe a relief from joint pains, these people trust me with their bodies. This is where the fear comes in. I fear that i will let these people down. I fear that months and months will go by and no progress will be made. I fear that I myself will not reach my full potential. As bad as this may sound I see it as a good thing.

I see it as good because I see it as motivation. I see it as a driving force to my self-improvement. It is this fear that has me reading and learning as much as I can. It is this fear that has me working when I could be relaxing. It is this fear that pushes me me to strive for perfection. I realize that perfection is an unobtainable thing, but why not strive for it? Why not push myself to be the best that I possibly can be? I don't care if I am better than the next guy. I care that I am better than the guy in the mirror every single day.

I ask you one thing: What are you afraid of? Use that fear to accomplish the challenges ahead of you. Become the best you can be and stop being okay with mediocrity. Don't run from fear. Embrace it and use it. You will see that it can be the best motivation of all.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Blast Away the Fat with the Ab Rocket!

So I was watching television the other night and I happened to see this:

I am so sick of this crap. Every other day there is some new "revolutionary" exercise machine that promises to take us from extra large to super shmedium. The best part about it is that all of these pieces of equipment focus on the abs. Not the core, just the abs. Yeah, like doing a billion crunches, or the like, will make us burn off all that fat we've been putting on over the years. I thought the abdominals were a small muscle group. I guess all that anatomy I've been studying is wrong.

Back to the Ab Rocket. So I was watching this and another video about the Ab Rocket and it was all I could do to not fall out of my chair laughing. First off, I love the reasoning behind it. "Regular crunches cause pain to the lower back and neck.But the Ab Rocket gives us the support we need to do a proper crunch." Here's the thing: A crunch is a crunch. It puts stress on the spine, and puts the spine in positions it is not meant to be in. I have discussed this in a previous post but I will say it again. The spine is meant to be supported, not bend. Not to mention, all these crunches are just shortening the front side, which in turn causes the "hunched over" posture that we see so many people have. Crunches, no matter how they are supported, are just an inferior exercise for the core. The core needs to be worked as a whole, to prevent movement of the spine and support force transfer between the lower and upper body.

Another thing that made me laugh was another commercial for it where Ashley Marriot (the creator) described how the Rocket can work the entire body, yet every exercise they showed on it was working the front side. There is no work on the back side of the body with this machine. Period. It is all front side work and that is the last thing this society needs. Most people could go without front side work for a while to correct their imbalances they have accrued from hours in front of the computer or sitting on the couch.

People, stop listening to this crap on television and maybe they will stop putting it on there. All of these pieces of equipment, videos, and other gimmicks are just that...gimmicks. They don't work and they more than likely will make us worse off. Get some advice from a professional who knows what he/she is talking about and get to the gym and work HARD. Yes, work hard. It takes effort to improve ourselves. Things don't just come easy.