I've got to tell you, back pain has got to be one of the most common complaints I hear from my clients and from the people who work out at the gym. 

Today was a good example. A member I've seen countless times at the gym approached me today and told me he's had to give up surfing, which he loves, because of back pain. After a quick assessment, I showed him how to go through these stretches as well as the one's from my earlier post on back pain.

I think we can all agree, we either know someone who has back pain or have experienced it ourselves. And quite honestly it just plain sucks.

Let me show you some additional stretches to get rid of that pain now!

Stretch #1
I call this Long Lunge. Take a lunge position, being sure that the lead leg's knee if over the ankle. Back leg should be straight, with knee resting on floor. Both hands should be placed on the floor, inside of lead shoe. Stretch should be felt in groin area of lead leg and the quad (front part of leg) of the back leg. GENTLY push hips towards the floor and feel the stretch.
Hold for 10-20 seconds. Do 2-3 times on each side.

Stretch #2 (part 1 of 3)
This stretch is often called Child's Pose. From a kneeling position, toes pointed straight back, sit backwards so that you are sitting on the heels of your shoe. Reach forward with both arms, far enough to feel a stretch in the lower back and shoulders.
Hold for 7-10 seconds.

Stretch #2 (part 2 of 3)
Keeping your legs where they are at, engage your abs and move both arms to the right until you feel a stretch in the left side of your body. Think of making your body into a half circle. Be sure to remain seated on your heels.
Hold for 7-10 seconds.

Stretch #2 (part 3 of 3)
Now do the same process you did in the above picture for the left side. Hold for 7-10 seconds.

Stretch #3
I call this Windshield Wipers. Lay flat on your back, arms out wide, knees bent 45-90 degrees, feet flat on the ground. Take your left ankle and place it on your right knee. Drop both legs to the left side to feel a stretch in the right hip. The goal is for the stretch to come from the hip and NOT the lower back.

In addition to the stretches from the previous post on back pain, try these and see how you can get rid of back pain.

Let me know how they worked for you.
It continues to amaze me how many people ask me for my advice about getting out of pain, weight loss or weight gain, but when given the answers, seem disbelieving. "How can I get rid of this little fluff around the middle?", the person will ask me. "I would really beware of how many starchy carbs you take in each day, and I would suggest intervals for cardio and/or circuits to really get the results you want quickly", I respond. They look at me as if I'm speaking Latin. "I have to do all that!", they retort. "Well", I reply "try either circuits or cardio and let's see the results.  Then we can make a better decision where to go from there". In desperation they ask, "Couldn't I do just maybe 10-15 extra sit-ups or skip breakfast?" "No", I respond, "skipping breakfast will actually make the problem worse, and you can't spot reduce."

Now, I'm not quite sure when it happened, but when did people start believing success at anything is easy and painless, and is almost instantaneous? I mean c'mon, if being in shape or being successful was that darn easy, everyone would be walking around looking like a cover model and driving an exotic sports car.  The fact of the matter is anything that's worth something generally takes some pretty serious effort and commitment.

And here's something that I just spoke about with my clients this morning -- within the seeds of greatness there is some level of pain and/or discomfort. Simply put, if you want to achieve something that is valuable to you, don't expect the process to be painless.  That's not living in reality.  Know that anything that is worth achieving or is a goal that you have set, is going to have some elements of pain and discomfort. Think about it, it wouldn't be a goal if it was easy to achieve. Setting a goal means, I'm not at such and such a point and I will change my habits and focus to assure that I get there in X amount of time. So you've set a goal, which means the point you've chosen to achieve requires that you break unproductive, perhaps destructive bad habits so that you can reach a higher level of satisfaction with yourself. Built into that aspiration is pain and discomfort. Why, you ask? Because it is requiring you to change the previous way you've been behaving.

And therein lies the frustration of setting goals and expecting them to be painless and instantaneous. If you aspire to do anything, know it will come with some level of discomfort. BUT also know that if you commit to the process of achieving that goal, you will evolve into something much greater than you were before. You become a better you by aspiring to be more.

You deserve to achieve your dreams. Dare to aspire to be something more than you are right now. Remember, success and accomplishment is not convenient, it's a commitment to your greatness. And by the way, success, greatness and accomplishment is not always convenient, but it sure feels good when you get there.

As always, Reasons or Results.  Which will you have at the end of 30, 60, or 90 days? Set the goal and go GET IT!
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Walking through the gym today, I over heard a trainer tell his client, ". . .Yes, and preacher curls are a mass building exercise for the biceps".  WOW! I was under the impression that that way of thinking had long died off.  We use to call that type of training -- "gym science" because it had no real basis for the belief, but we did it any way because the big guys did it.  We didn't understand that there were actually sound principles that you can follow to assist you in reaching your goals.

Well superstition has given way to knowledge these days and we know that there is really no such thing as a "mass building" exercise. We now know that while there are in fact different types of movements/exercises, what increases muscle mass, what tones and shapes, what improves endurance is really more of an issue of the number of repetitions, and the rest period between each exercise.

My client asked me about the difference between swimming for cardio versus walking on the treadmill. I explained to him swimming required the whole body to work and thus in general would burn more calories because of its total body involvement. Whereas the treadmill merely requires you to lift your leg up so you don't trip. The treadmill burns very few calories relative to swimming. Unless the treadmill is on an incline and or the pace is very quick you, would do better to choose a type of cardio that involved more of the total body. There are no magic cardio exercises. The ones that work or the one's that you do consistently and require the majority of your body to work when doing it. There is no magic.

Let me give you some basic principles to help you stay on track and out of gym science land.

Weight Loss & Conditioning Hypertrophy (increased size) Strength
Sets 1-4 1-5 1-5
Reps 9-12 9-12 1-5
Weeks 4-12 3-4 3-4
Rest Period :15-:45 sec. :30-1:15 min. 2-5 min.

Now this a guide. This is not the LAW. Remember everyone is unique. There may be slight tweaks you will need to make in order to make it work for you. But I assure you this is the outline you want to use based on your specific goal.

Be clear, your body doesn't know you're doing bicep curls at Gold's on Sunday or L.A. Fitness on Wednesday.  The body knows movements, intensity (how heavy the weight), amount of exercise done (volume), and rest periods between sets.  That's the nuts and bolts of what will help you get the results you deserve.

Of course you can continue to believe in folklore and do your workouts with no rhyme or reason, just because a buff guy did it. But be careful, I saw a Pterodactyl today as I left the gym, and it looked hungry.

As always, let me know what you think.  Or if you have any questions, let me know.
This morning as my client was doing his core work he stated, "I really hate doing this stuff, but you know what I hate worse . . . . how I feel if I don't do this stuff", chuckling just a bit as he finished his statement.

It got me thinking. THAT is probably the single most important perspective to have when it comes to accomplishing any goal. You've got to keep focused on the goal and know that no matter how uncomfortable things are in the moment, it's worth it, because the goal you've chosen is worth it.

I think sometimes in the world of instant gratification, cell phones, emails, texting, we sometimes forget that old saying, anything worth accomplishing takes time, patience and perseverance. Somehow I think many of us out there have forgotten that growth is not painless. Success and accomplishment take time and come with periods of discomfort. Success and Accomplishment aren't things that grow on trees or you that you can run down to your local store and pick up. It's almost like some of us have forgotten what makes success SO FRIGGIN wonderful, it allows you to go past your previously held ideas about what you could accomplish. YOU evolve in the process of committing to and achieving your goals.

Truth is, Growth, Success, and Accomplishment often come with some level of discomfort, if not down right pain sometimes. Now obviously there is a difference between good healthy pain and suffering. Here I am referring to the discomfort that comes from breaking old patterns, and discovering strength and clarity about yourself that you only suspected existed. The pain and discomfort that come along with changing your behavior patterns and perceptions about what you can accomplish, even when it's not convenient.

So the next time you start complaining about how hard cardio is, how uncomfortable it is to do your rolling for self-massage, how inconvenient it is to make time for your exercise and health, think about this:

How committed are you to your success?

How many hours do you think Serena and Nadal practice Tennis?

How many times did Thomas Edison try different elements for the light bulb?

Now maybe you don't won't to become a professional athlete or create something as life-changing as the light bulb, but what you do want to accomplish is worth the commitment. Otherwise why bother making the goal.

You can accomplish virtually anything you set your mind to as long as you make consistent steps. Know that the discomfort you experience at any given moment is just part of the process, It Will Pass. Stay focused, stay on target, and enjoy the transformation.

Now Go Out There and Make It Happen!
If you have back pain, in most cases it has to do with tight hips. Whether it's from sitting too long, sleeping in an odd position or just feeling tight.  Try these 3 stretches to get rid of that nagging pain.

As always, let me know how they worked for you.


 This is Stretch#1.

 Position your body with your right leg bent at a 45 degree angle. Straighten your back leg with the toe facing the floor. Position your upper body so that your knee is in line with your sternum (chest bone). Hips should be parallel to the floor. Hold position for 7 breaths. You should feel no pain in the knee. If you do stop immediately. This pose is also know as pigeon.


This is Stretch #2.

Begin on your knees, with your knees out wide, resting on forearms. Then straighten one leg out to the side. Be sure that the toe of the straight leg is in line with the knee of the kneeling leg. If possible, reach out to touch toe of straight leg with same side hand.

Repeat movement 3 times on both sides.

 This is Stretch #3.

With your calves against the supporting surface take a medium to large step forward. Place one foot, shoe strings down, on the stable support surface behind you. Kneeling down bring the back leg knee to the floor. Now if you're just beginning you may need to place a pillow under your knee for cushion and to decrease the intensity of the stretch. Be sure that the front leg knee is bent at a 90 degree angle and the shin is perpendicular to the floor.

Hold for 5-7 breaths. Repeat on other side.