Well over the past year I've shared a wealth of information on how you can take yourself from OK to excellent. 

You've got a do-it-yourself exercise kit, plenty of core exercises to get that midsection in shape, and a boatload of lower back stretches to make sure you stay pain free. 

But looking over all of this I realized there is one important component still missing -- circuits.  I mean it's all well and good to have lots of movements to keep yourself out of pain, but how do you put it all together to take yourself to the next level -- right?

Well this month I will share with you some circuits you can do on your own, typically with minimal equipment, to make sure you'll have your body transformed before the warm weather officially arrives.  Keeping in line with how you should train, I will start off this week by providing you a couple of basic circuits to get you started.  Then each week move up the ladder of difficulty.

Don't make the mistake I see so many people at the gym make, trying to do the most difficult exercises they can find, just because they saw someone with a great physique doing them.  Start off easy and then progress to more difficult movements/exercises.  And most importantly to remember when it comes to doing circuits -- it's not the movements, but the sequencing of movements that's really the secret.  What order you place your movements/exercises is really the key to getting a good workout.

Here are your first two circuits to get you started:

Circuit 1
  • Squats (with flavor -- on my you tube channel)
  • Rear Deltoids
  • Lunges (back) (you tube channel)
  • Bicep Curls (dumbbell)
  • Deadlifts (you tube channel)
  • Triceps
  • Y, T, M (see link to website below)
  • Lunges (back)
  • 1-Arm Row


Circuit 2
  • Squat (with flavor -- on my you tube channel)
  • Chest Press (dumbbell)
  • Rear Deltoids
  • Lunge (back) to Bicep Curls
  • Deadlifts
  • Triceps
  • Pull-Ups
  • Lunge (back) to Shoulder Press
  • Breast Stroke (see you tube channel)
  • Jump Rope (60-100 times around)

Circuit_2_Cheat_Sheet_--_Blog_Post_5-6-2011.pdf

Each of these movements should be done for 10-15 repetitions.  And as is consistent with a circuit, move from one exercise to the next, until the entire circuit is completed.  Take a 2-3 minute break and start the cycle over again.  Do this for 2-3 times through the entire circuit.  Depending on your fitness level, figure 2-3 times per week should give you quite a workout.

Don't forget to check out my You Tube Channel, or the Rehab Section of my website, if you need a video reminder of some of the movements.

Let me know how these work for you.
Just Do It!  We all know the slogan.  And we all know what product it belongs to.  Truth be told, those three words say tons about how to get anything accomplished in life.  Just Do It.

Just getting in there and doing it has its merits without a doubt.  But it's been my experience that it's often times challenging to just do it when you don't have a decent grip on the present state of affairs -- work, family, personal responsibilities.  Part of being able to Just Do It, has a great deal with being able to see yourself doing it.  And it's been my experience that it's awfully hard to see yourself doing anything if you're constantly feeling overwhelmed.

So first things first shall we.

Let's first get you to a mental space where you can start seeing yourself just doing it. 

And the first step in the ever changing, fast paced, immediate gratification world, is to get your stress under control.  Yeah, Yeah, I know, everyone is stressed out beyond belief.  But if you're going to change your present circumstances you're going to have to get your stress under control.  Otherwise you're just running in a circle and not making any progress.  And that's no way to live your life.

So to get you started, let's have you start by practicing these 3 everyday, starting now:

Three_Rules_For_Turning_Stress_Into_Success.doc


OK, so you'll start practicing those 3 starting today.  But let's be honest, just getting your stress under control is easier said than done -- right?  I mean you can say all the affirmations you want, listen to your motivational CD's in the car on the way to work all you want, but if you don't actively apply what you're learning, it's just a process of going through the motions. 

No, you'll need one more vital tool if you're truly going to get your stress under control and be able to see yourself just doing it.

LEARNING_FROM_YOUR_MISTAKES.doc

Motivation is great!  Heck, that's why I spend each Wednesday giving you tools to use to keep you on track and moving forward.  But giving you tools is only as good as you are ready to apply them. 

Think of it this way. You can't grow a garden if you don't first prepare the soil -- right.  You first have to get rid of all the weeds, turn over the soil so it's soft and ready to nurture the seeds you plant.  Otherwise you might as well try planting a garden on concrete for all the good it will do you -- make sense?

So first things first.  Get your stress under control, learn from your mistakes, and as you're practicing these tools (see how I'm preparing you for the seeds of your own greatness), then you'll be ready to envision yourself doing or achieving the goals you have set for yourself.

You have the tools --

Now Go Out and Get It Done!
Some days it feels as though I live on two different planets. 

One based in the reality of research and what I've seen work, day in and day out with my clientele, as well as what I witness other fitness coaches doing with their clientele and getting results.

Then there's the other world.  The world of marketing and infomercials where product 'X" is said to achieve certain results based on science I never heard of, nor can find in the vast array of information on the internet.  So I'll call my guru and ask him and he can't make heads or tails of it either.  Which by the way usually means it's a load of poo. 

But that doesn't seem to stop the marketing machine from turning and producing more fantastic and mythical products that will allow you to exert minimal effort and yet get maximum results.  Sometimes it's so painful to watch I have to just switch off the TV -- yelling at the TV doesn't seem to be very effective -- though it feels darn good.  Let's deal in reality.

Do you think it matters where you hold body fat?  I mean besides the fact that you don't want it at all, do you think there is actually a place on your body where, having body fat in this area is actually more dangerous to your health?

Believe it or not, there actually is a difference. Where your body stores body fat actually can determine the length and quality of your life.  Don't believe me?  Check this out and get motivated:

Belly Fat Study and Heart Disease

Want to lose that body fat, but not sure what was the best way -- interval training by far is the best way to lose body fat quickly and effectively.  As long as you do not have a history of heart disease or other coronary issues in your family, and with your doctor's permission, I would encourage anyone who is serious about transforming their body, to explore the outstanding benefits of interval training.

Here's a recent study with even better reasons to explore the option:

Interval Training Study

OK, so now you're convinced and motivated to get more activity into your life.  But as we all know, just losing weight isn't the real key. 

No, not by a long shot.

The true key component to losing weight, is losing the right weight -- meaning body fat!  

Just stepping on the scale and seeing the number go down may make you feel better, but it doesn't mean you're getting any healthier. However, decreasing your overall body fat does mean you're adding years and quality to your life. 

Take my word for it. 

I've measured clients that weigh the exact same and have shown different body fat numbers. 

And guess what?

They look a great deal different. You could be 120lbs and 15% body fat or you could be 120lbs and 30% body fat.  The person with the lower body fat will look leaner, have more energy, a higher quality of life and typically (bad personal habits excluded) a longer life span.

Need a home scale to help you stay on track that will give you reliable info and won't break the bank?

Best Bathroom Scales (be sure to click on the link that says "best bathroom scales")



There's your Truth, Tips, and some serious reality -- Now Get on Track and Stay on Track!
WOW!  April is already coming to a close.  Hard to believe how fast the year is flying by already.  Summer weather is just around the corner.

And if you're like most people, warmer weather means more activities.  Whether it's the company picnic, yard work for the house, or just being out enjoying the warmer temperatures, we all become a bit more active.

But what about the last 3-5 months? 

Chances are you were a lot less active, especially if the weather was less than pleasant to be out in.  That means your body could use a little tune-up before you start all those activities.  Chances are you could use a little do-it-yourself fix it guide -- for your shoulders.  After all, no matter what your activity, I suspect you'll be using your arms and shoulders a lot more frequently than you did during the winter months.

So don't leave yourself open to injury. Get your body, and this month your shoulders, ready for the fun in the sun.

If you know me, you know I'm big on doing the right movements, in the right order, to get the best results. 

So first things first.

Let's start by getting your body and specifically your shoulders, ready to do some work.

Self Myofascial Release (self massage)

Now that your body is warmed up, you'll be able to stretch it properly and prepare it for exercise.

Shoulder Stretches

So let's move to the exercises that will almost guarantee you have no shoulder pain during your active summer.

Shoulder Exercise 1  

Shoulder Exercise 2  

Shoulder Exercise 3  

Shoulder Exercise 4  

Shoulder Exercise 5

There's your Do-It-Yourself Guide to stronger, healthier shoulders.
We all have goals we would like to achieve.  It doesn't matter what that goal is quite honestly.  For my purpose I want to help you achieve the your best body. 

I want you to live without having pain. 

I want you to be the weight you desire. 

I want you to like what you see when you look in the mirror.

I want you to be able to do what you truly love doing, whether it's gardening, knitting, playing a specific sport, or working out.

I know you work unbelievably hard at your job each day, each week.  I believe you work just as hard at home, to the best partner, husband/father or wife/mother.  It's a grind sometimes, let's be honest; but you do the best you possibly can each and every week.

Yet amongst all those responsibilities we have to find some you time. 

I know, I know, it can be a daunting task at times.  But if we don't take good care of you, you won't be able to show up in the other areas of your life the way you want.

I don't know about you, but when I don't take good care of myself, feeling as though I'm running from one obligation to the next; I get cranky, have difficultly sleeping, and quite honestly, am not that pleasant to be around.

I respect the amount of time you spend at work and at home, so I spend each week carefully choosing subjects and information that will inspire, educate, and motivate you into action.  Action that will give you a renewed sense of "get it done".  Because you and I both know the better you take care of yourself, the better you're able to give to others.

But sometimes it's hard to find that time, or so I thought. 

What I've come to realize is, it's not about finding the more time to get everything I need and want, done.  No, actually it's about me managing the time I have.  Does that sound like you? 

The first thing I had to do is have the discipline and the courage to create a goal and the plans to make it happen.  These two items were a big help:

The_Indispensable_Quality.doc

The_Time_to_Act.doc

The older I get and the more I think about it, the more I realize success has more to do with managing what you have than it does with longing for something outside of yourself.  And the funny thing about managing what you have is that you often times find yourself getting more of what you want and need.

But the first thing that has to happen before you can start working on any of this, is a sense of urgency.  A sense that it's time to make a change.  Time to stop filling up that closet with regrets and missed opportunities.

Excuse_Me_Your_Life_is_Waiting.doc

It's your life.  You deserve to have the type of life you want.  There is nothing you can't accomplish.  It will take a plan and some effort, but it IS within your grasp. 

Just take the first step -- that's all I ask.

Now Go Out and Get It Done!
Whether you're trying to transform your body, get out of pain, or just want to get a bit more healthy, at times it can be difficult to know what to believe is the right way to do things, to get the results you want and deserve. 

The marketing machine is well oiled, will jump on any information, and will bend that information to create a certain opinion.

What the heck am I talking about, you ask? 

How many of you have heard that egg yolks are bad for you?  It appears marketing has done an excellent job in convincing many of us that the yolk of the egg is "bad" and you shouldn't eat it.  Well here's a little broader perspective on just what's in that yolk you throw away.

Truth About Eggs

Then there's the hidden things we can't blame on marketing but in fact keep from ourselves.  The truth about why we do the things we do.  Or better yet, why we eat the things we eat.  The secret ways we sabotage ourselves sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously. 

Food Can't Hug You Back

And when all is said and done it really boils down to your mindset.  Commercials and most infomercials serve a specific purpose -- and usually it's not to help you actually achieve your specific goal(s).  No, the marketing machine is interested in the success of their business.  And if we're going to be honest, no matter what the marketing machine throws at you, we all at some level realize their goal is to sell more of product 'X'.  They have little to no real vested interest in you achieving your goals. 

Monday is Never Coming

So there you go.  A few extra bits of reliable info, that you can wrap your brain around, and get a perspective that will help you achieve the results you want and deserve.  All without selling you anything.

Get On Track and Stay On Track!
Just this morning I was approached by a regular I know from the gym asking how to get rid of shoulder and elbow pain.  He was complaining of numbness running down his arm and just an overall ache. He admitted having the habit of sleeping on his shoulders, and leaning to that same side while watching TV in his favorite chair. And of course still insists on doing heavy bench press with a barbell. 

I helped him understand that it was quite possible that the elbow pain he was experiencing was likely due the the lack of alignment in his shoulder.  And it may be possible that merely stretching and aligning his shoulder could allow his elbow to reset itself.  If not, I had an excellent sports chiropractor I could refer.

Knowing him, I realized I was not likely going to talk him out of doing heavy bench press with a barbell.  At least not yet anyway. 

So I gave him a little taste of what I've been sharing you all this past month. We first went through some specific rotator cuff movements to warm the shoulder capsule.  Then I showed him some general stretches to open up the chest and shoulder area.  Followed by the movements from my previous posts this month, as well as the one below.

Whether it's to get rid of pain or avoid having it in the first place, don't neglect your shoulder -- rotator cuff work. 

Here's this week's shoulder saver.


I've been getting all sorts of emails and personal inquires about how to get in shape quickly now that the summer weather is approaching.  As well as the usual inquiries regarding  how to get out of shoulder, hip and back pain, which I will address next Monday.

Funny thing is the answer is the same to both of these questions.  "What results are you getting?"

Now, that question is not meant to be a smartypants comment at all.  It's meant to initiate thought.

You would be surprised how many people are not getting the results they want, and yet continue to do the same things that are already not working (not getting results).

When people ask me how to get rid of that last little layer of flub around the middle, they seem to expect an easy quick fix--one size fits all answer, that will magically dissolve the problem overnight.  Instead I usually ask them 2 specific questions:

  • What is their present nutrition schedule like?  Meaning how many times are they eating per day, as well as how each meal is made up -- regarding protein, carbs, and fat.

  • Next, I ask them what type of metabolic work are they doing?  Meaning what type of program are they using to stimulate an increase in their metabolism.

7 times out of 10 the person looks at me with a blank stare, or proceeds to tell me what they ate yesterday or today.  And if you'll remember my post on that response a few weeks ago, you'll know that is a dead give-away that the person has no real system to their eating/nutrition.  Yet they wonder why they are not getting the results they want.

I know you're tired of hearing it, but you have to have a plan if you're going to make successful changes to anything in your life.  If you don't write it down, it's not a serious goal.

Your results tell you if your program is working.  Don't just keep doing the same thing that's not working and get more and more frustrated. Find out why it's not working -- that's what I'm here for.
 
If you're not dropping the weight you want -- for goodness sake, please start keeping a food journal.  It's the only way to truly find out what's wrong.  Your car has a gas gauge to tell you when you're low on gas.  Your food journal (your human gas gauge) will tell you where to make changes in order to create the results you want. 

Equally important is to remember that steady state cardio does not work in getting rid of body fat quickly.  Want 2 ways to start seeing results from your cardio/metabolic training sessions?

Try these:

  • If you have no history of heart condition nor in your family, then try intervals.  Meaning a slow period of walking, jogging or running, followed by a fast period of walking, jogging or running.  The periods should start at about 30-45 seconds, for 10-20 minutes at a time.  After approximately two weeks move to 45 seconds to 1 minute interval periods.

  • Try using circuits in your weight training.  Meaning do 3-5 movements in a row, alternating upper and lower body movements, before taking a 1-1:30 minute break.  Do 3-4 cycles of this method and watch the results happen.

Ok.  What does that look like: 

All movements should be done with a weight you can do 12-20 times in proper form, but challenges you.

Push-up or Flyes
Squats (body weight or with dumbbells)
Rows (seated or 1 arm rows with dumbbell)
Lunges (backward stepping, dumbbells optional)
Wood Chops (using an elastic band or 1 dumbbell)

Now Go Out and Get It Done!
I've posted a great deal of what I consider excellent info over the past year.  But I have to tell you this is probably one of the most important posts to date.

Building on last weeks article "Is Your Ab Workout Hurting Your Back", here are 6 more no-no's for training at the gym.

You can train to look and function better without putting yourself in danger.
_________________________________________________________________

Walking into the gym and expecting a great workout is like walking into the supermarket and expecting a gourmet meal. The basic ingredients are there, but like they say in the infomercials, results may vary. With working out, as with cooking, a little bit of smarts, dedication, creativity and knowledge will make all the difference between perfect pasta and a gelatinous ball of mush.

For this list of no-no exercises, we consulted Stuart McGill, PhD, professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario; Nicholas DiNubile, MD, author of FrameWork: Your 7-Step Program for Healthy Muscles, Bones, and Joints; and trainer Vern Gambetta, author of Athletic Development: The Art & Science of Functional Sports Conditioning.

http://a323.yahoofs.com/phugc/iAi.C7_a3lKU/photos/d047030afdac0fe6e8a7dddc7712ead6/ori_cec4ed5224ec03.jpg?ug_____DrsBG.aoq

 

1. Seated Leg Extension
What it's supposed to do: Train the quadriceps. What it actually does: It strengthens a motion your legs aren't actually designed to do, and can put undue strain on the ligaments and tendons surrounding the kneecaps.

A better exercise: One-legged body-weight squats. Lift one leg up and bend the opposite knee, dipping as far as you can, with control, while flexing at the hip, knee, and ankle. Use a rail for support until you develop requisite leg strength and balance. Aim for five to 10 reps on each leg. (If you are susceptible to knee pain, do the Bulgarian split squat instead, resting the top of one foot on a bench positioned two to three feet behind you. Descend until your thigh is parallel to the ground and then stand back up. Do five to 10 reps per leg.)

http://a323.yahoofs.com/phugc/ct0kTg46uj9z/photos/7162ece89baaf654e5e739df32da2a15/mr_13a07301cfe596.jpg?ug_____DKADfJkp9

2. Seated Lat Pull-Down (Behind the Neck)
What it's supposed to do: Train lats, upper back, and biceps. What it actually does: Unless you have very flexible shoulders, it's difficult to do correctly, so it can cause pinching in the shoulder joint and damage the rotator cuff.

A better exercise: Incline pull-ups. Place a bar in the squat rack at waist height, grab the bar with both hands, and hang from the bar with your feet stretched out in front of you. Keep your torso stiff, and pull your chest to the bar 10 to 15 times. To make it harder, lower the bar; to make it easier, raise the bar.

http://a323.yahoofs.com/phugc/ZkXcTPecoh8i/photos/3b87a464cfac6d2bb635e65510fb0e5a/ori_62bced6b5a4242.jpg?ug_____Dgw81nDJP

 

3. Seated Hip Abductor Machine
What it's supposed to do: Train outer thighs. What it actually does: Because you are seated, it trains a movement that has no functional use. If done with excessive weight and jerky technique, it can put undue pressure on the spine.

A better exercise: Place a heavy, short, looped resistance band around your legs (at your ankles); sidestep out 20 paces and back with control. This is much harder than it sounds.

 

http://a323.yahoofs.com/phugc/cIH3A7j3jXec/photos/b9bc24401b039426a3d5d881bcc8c1e2/ori_bba20ccf4a15fd.jpg?ug_____D4QoXFaim

 

4. Seated Leg Press
What it's supposed to do: Train quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. What it actually does: It often forces the spine to flex without engaging any of the necessary stabilization muscles of the hips, glutes, shoulders, and lower back.

A better exercise: Body-weight squats. Focus on descending with control as far as you can without rounding your lower back. Aim for 15 to 20 for a set and increase sets as you develop strength.

http://a323.yahoofs.com/phugc/mo9oEvqSq0mn/photos/5289806919787ef592430c0709e79cd9/mr_305b855eeef492.jpg?ug_____DSEWx2UVs

5. Squats Using Smith Machine
What it's supposed to do: Train chest, biceps, and legs. What it actually does: The alignment of the machine—the bar is attached to a vertical sliding track—makes for linear, not natural, arched movements. This puts stress on the knees, shoulders, and lower back.

A better exercise: Body-weight or weighted squats. See "Seated Leg Press" above.

http://a323.yahoofs.com/phugc/0Q1meMmJNjvW/photos/e6c545383b88e1c89f321bf56fda767f/ori_5724e87d90ede2.jpg?ug_____DUZxsoQrx

 

6. Roman Chair Back Extension
What it's supposed to do: Train spinal erectors. What it actually does: Repeatedly flexing the back while it's supporting weight places pressure on the spine and increases the risk of damaging your disks.

A better exercise: The bird-dog. Crouch on all fours, extend your right arm forward, and extend left leg backward. Do 10 seven-second reps, and then switch to the opposite side.

___________________________________________________________________________

So the next time you decide to do a certain exercise or machine just because someone else does it and happens to have a nice body -- think again.  Chances are their genetics have more to do with how they look and not the dangerous exercise they've chosen.  If you have a question, send me an email.  I'd be happy to help.
Apr
15
2011
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I know you're going to think I made this up, but it is 100% true. 

Not more than a week ago, a client of mine expressed that he was having pain in his right shoulder and neck area, and couldn't figure out why. 

So we reviewed the new movements he was doing in his program -- actually had him go through a few of them.  No, those didn't seem to be creating any discomfort. 

We talked about his work -- the amount of hours sitting at his desk have actually gotten less over the past the few months. 

So we explored what has changed at home -- outside of the obvious -- he recently had a child.  --BINGO!--  Originally, he didn't notice it, but recently he's been picking his newborn up more, carrying him, and holding him for extended periods.  So far that has really been the only change that he can think of in his daily and weekly routine.

This is not the first time I've heard this.  Trainers, clients and friends have all commented at one time or another about one shoulder being more sore than the other a few weeks or months after having a child.

And 9 times out of 10, you know what else?

When they are consistent with their shoulder stretches and exercises the shoulder pain goes away -- mysteriously.

I shared this client's experience because I have worked with literally hundreds of people, that start using one shoulder more than the other, each for different reasons, and end up with the same, "I don't know what's going on, but this shoulder has really started bother me", experience. 

Shoulder pain can come from the most common activities that we do everyday and don't think about it for a second.  Whether it's a wonderful new addition to the family, the posture you sit/lay in while watching TV or reading the paper, a laptop, sleeping on your shoulders, or too many pressing movements at the gym.  Shoulder pain is often times just an issue of alignment.

Practice the stretches I've shared with you along with the shoulder movements from this month and you'll be out of shoulder pain fast!

Don't just take my word for it -- Try them.