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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

“Other 23 Hours”

I don’t think that there is anyone in this world that likes to actually talk about training more than me. I also don't believe that there is anyone is this world that likes helping people get the results that they are looking for more than me. That should ultimately be the mentality for any trainer.

Let's do ourselves a favor, and put training to the side for now and concentrate on something I like to call the “Other 23 Hours”. 

I am going to be completely honest with you right now, you can have the GREATEST Strength Coach, the GREATEST Personal Trainer, or the GREATEST Training Partner, but what you eat can make or break the effectiveness of your program. Can we all come to agree that the number of hours of sleep has the ability to make or break your effectiveness in the gym? Can we come to agree that if your body is not given the proper amount of nutrients, it can effect how you feel throughout the day? I would hope so!

Now that I am done ranting about what is probably not being focused on, let’s talk about what needs attention, and what is the best way to get it done.

Goal planning is always Step #1. I always like to tell my clients that if they are not planning to succeed, they are actually planning for failure. 

During the first session with a client, I always like to sit down (OK, I never sit down with them, I am always having them do something) and discuss what they were looking for from me in terms of their fitness goals. I have heard goals such as to lose 80lbs of flab and put on 50lbs of lean muscle over one summer. I have also heard of goals such as increasing their throw to 88mph from their current 72mph. These goals are not realistic and are also creating an environment for failure. Neither is acceptable.

My position at goal planning is to establish a plan where the client and I can come to terms with something that is realistic and achievable. We also want to set expectations and goals that can help the drive of the athlete, to bring out a greater opportunity for improvement that everyone can be happy with. So when it comes to the talk about weight loss, we always break it into 10-15lb increments (depending on the individual client). When the goal is to increase lean muscle, we look to gain 2-3lbs of muscle per month. This goal is often the most difficult to explain because the results on paper are not super impressive. Again, it is my job to let the client know that we are looking to increase muscle, not weight. If he gains too much weight, too fast, then we may have another problem on hand, which can be too much body fat. As for my athletes that are looking to throw harder, all I do is explain that the stronger and more in shape they are, the more their body will be able to produce. I usually leave it there, and if they comply with the program, I know that they will be happy with the results that they worked hard for. This method has never steered me wrong.

Diets DON’T work. Diets have NEVER worked. Diets will NEVER work. I could leave this section just like it is, but I'd like to get into some more detail. In order to become successful and reach your goal, a diet that cuts out calories, carbs, or fat is not the right route to take. You want to head in the direction that will enhance your fitness goals in the fastest and safest way possible. It is all about a “Lifestyle Change”. It’s not about what you are going to cut out, but rather what you are currently eating, with a better option. This is what I call my “Lifestyle Meal”.

A “Lifestyle Meal” consists of Lean Protein (eggs, chicken, fish, beef, low fat diary, etc.), Fibrous Carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables), and Starchy Carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal, etc.)

Some other things that I suggest are to avoid processed foods, simple sugars, saturated fats, and hydrogenated oils. 

Another important thing that everyone should know or at least be familiar with is the number of meals consumed. If you think that you should only be eating 3 meals a day, then YOU ARE DEAD WRONG. Ideally, 5-6 meals per day, which includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 2-3 snacks.

There is an old saying regarding sleep and performance. Simply put, “Well Rested = Well Tested.” This one true maxim. A recent study done on Stanford University Athletes showed that those who received 10 hours of sleep a night, performed faster and stronger than less rested athletes. The study also showed that a full nights sleep comes better moods and higher levels of alertness. Now, if you don’t think this can help your performance either in the gym or on the playing field, I am not what else tell you. This is not just something to help athletic performance, but an important factor that can help benefit you in every day life.

This is one topic that the biggest rave, and the worst chatter. Let's first understand what a supplement is exactly. A supplement is something additional to take in to your body that you may not be receiving in your regular nutrition program to help enhance either athletic performance, recovery, or health.

Some frequently asked questions that I never hear the end of are: What is the best multivitamin?  What is the best creatine?  What is the best protein powder?  My answer is always consistent, how is your nutrition? How is your workout program? The usual response is either a "it's okay, or not so good. Please don’t worry about what supplements you need, if you are not taking care of yourself nutritionally or exercising regularly. If and when those two things are up to par, then we can talk about some supplements such as protein powder, multivitamins, BCAA, Fish Oils, Glutamine, etc.

I wish I was able to say that what I do in the gym with clients is the most important thing in regards to fitness goals. But the bottom line is that when you have the capability in the 23 hours on your own to fall off track, that one hour that you have with me, you better be focused and think about why you are here. Find that inner strength that drives you to become the best.

Take care of the “Other 23 Hours”.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"No Prowler...No Problem"

I feel so lucky to be fortunate enough to be able to co-own a facility that allows me the opportunity to train my clients in a way that would make it very difficult to do in a big box gym. The concrete walls allows for great power training with medicine balls, the open floor design allows for everything from Metabolic Training to sprints, and conditioning with the Prowler or Sled Dog.

If you are not familiar with the benefits of the Prowler or Sled Dog, come see me! It is one of the best tools for conditioning. It gives the ability to build lower and upper body strength and endurance, and can also be used for either pushing or pulling activities. Now, I highly suggest that if you have never gotten your hands on one before to find a gym or trainer that has one, and use it ASAP. Once you have experienced the Prowler or Sled Dog, you will not want to waste any time in purchasing one for your training, and oh yeah! For your clients too!

Now, some of us train or work in a big box concrete gym, or are in a situation where there is no access to these training tools, but still want to get the benefits that it offers. We have a solution! Here are some substitutes for the Prowler/Sled Dog:

1:Hill Sprints
Hill sprints are by far the BEST option. Outside of Leverage Training Center, we have a steep driveway that is about 100 yards. As long as the weather permits, our clients spend some time getting very familiar with this driveway at the end of each session. We use it to improve conditioning and power. This is not only a great option for our athletes, but also for our general population.

Take advantage of being outside! Another great option would be to go to a local high school or building and hit the stairs. This is definitely something that your legs will hate you for the next day, but secretly love. When I was in college, I visited Wake Forest University to visit a friend. He brought me into their football stadium for a sick lower body workout. No joke, our workout was to hit every, YES I SAID EVERY, step in the stadium. Not only does this work on leg strength and conditioning, but also balance. Make sure you drink your coffee before this workout, because you will want to be at your best. Make sure you pay attention and take caution, because before you know it, you may trip and fall flat on your face. Doesn't look good when you are trying to compete with someone or yourself.

3.300 Yard Shuttles or Suicides
    As a Strength and Conditioning Coach, I have noticed that most college teams ask their athletes to perform some form of the 300 yard shuttle during their mandatory fitness test. The 300-yard shuttle can be done in many different increments (30 yard, 50 yard, and 100 yard) and is always timed. What I usually like to do is to either decrease the finish time that the shuttle has to be completed in or decrease the rest period in between sets. This is a great option for any athlete that is looking to improve his 40 or 60 times or a person that is looking for weight loss.

 This is another option, and an option that everyone has probably done at some point in their life, whether it be in gym class or for any competitive team. Again, looking at the variables for distance, time of completion, and time of rest that can be altered according to the client. Please remember that the entire variable is dependent on the level of your client.

Now, lets get things straight. I love the Prowler/Sled Dog, but as great as it is, it can also be overused. Your client has hired you to not only help them reach all of their fitness goals, but to also keep training fresh and exciting.

Now, we have talked about how great the Prowler/Sled Dog is and have given you options as to what you can do if you don’t own one, but now it is time to do work. Don’t prescribe something to your clients until you have done it a minimum of 50 times.
50 times. 
Own it before your prescribe it.

With that said…

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Final Quarter of 2011...Its Not Too Late

Today’s date is Monday, October 3rd.
Do you know what that means?

It means that my birthday is only 27 days away, so start shopping now because this is the most important day of the year. Not only that, but it also is the beginning of the final quarter of the 2011 year. This quarter includes Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hanukah, which are all also known as WEIGHT GAIN SEASON. A season that everyone has experienced and probably wishes leaves faster than it comes.

Food will be everywhere, whether it be candy leftovers from Halloween, extra stuffing, pie, cranberry sauce and turkey from Thanksgiving, or the 13 Holiday Parties that you have been invited to. This is a long quarter, full of tempting food that is designed for you to gain weight.

We can not forget to take into account the emotions of the holidays, lack of sleep, and an almost impossible schedule to keep. You are now creating an environment where weight loss is not even an option. At some point, we have to take responsibility for our actions and stop this trend. Doesn’t today sounds like a good time to start?

In order to get through the “Weight Gain Season”, We MUST have a plan. This plan consists of how we are going to handle each and every situation. Now you are probably saying to yourself that you have a plan every year and it just does not work.  Planning on not eating at a party is not a plan, it is a recipe for disaster and I will put my next paycheck on the line that I will find you on the buffet line, not once, not twice, but three times.

Here are a couple of tips that will help you get through the “Weight Gain Season”:

Tip #1
SET REALISTIC GOALS:  Please do not insult me and tell me that you have a holiday party every day in the month of December or that you can eat Thanksgiving Day leftovers for an entire month. Every Sunday, map out what your schedule looks like for the week. Treat each and every appointment just as if it was just as important as a doctor’s appointment. Would you ever miss a doctor’s appointment? Didn’t think so. So don’t miss a day of training or that run that you had planned. Try to stay away from eating out as much. Stay in and cook your own healthy meal. I guarantee you will enjoy it and appreciate it more, and save yourself at least a few hundred calories.

Tip #2
WRITE IT DOWN:  Do not keep your schedule that you made up on Sunday in your head. WRITE IT DOWN and keep a nutrition log of what you consume every day. This includes beverages and food. Research has shown that people that write down what they ate are more successful in losing weight, but more importantly keeping it off compared to people that don’t.
Another great idea is to keep track of your weight. I like my clients to weigh in on Sunday morning, right before they right down their goals for the week. If the client has a great week and loses weight, then guess what? They want to continue the trend, and I guarantee that their schedule will reflect it. If they did not have as successful week as we would have wished…Guess what?  Their schedule will also reflect it. They will push themselves harder to get the results that are wanted.

Tip #3
PARTNER UP:  Trying to loss weight during the Holiday Season is not an easy task and probably not something that should be taken on by yourself. To achieve this goal you are going to need commitment, dedication, and awareness.  Research has shown that people that participate in groups are more successful in their weight loss journey.  Whether it is a nutrition program, semi-private personal training, or just getting a group of friends together that have similar goals, put your group together TODAY.  This will offer a support system during tough times, and can also be the stern voice that is sometimes needed when you start to stray off the path and into a different direction.

Tip #4
WORKOUT, WORKOUT, and WORKOUT:  Now remember, a workout does not compensate for over-eating. (Remember gluttony is one of the seven sins!) If that was the case, we would all workout every day, ate what we had wanted, and looked the way we want. Well, guess what?  That is not happening. Exercise does provide an increase in caloric expenditure, which in turn, allows us to take in more food.  I love to, along with my clients, start the day with one hour of exercise.  This is not only a psychological boost, but exercise is always the first thing thrown out the window when we have a busy schedule. Get it out of the way!!! Treat your workout (like I said before) like a doctor’s appointment. There is no way your are missing a doctor’s appointment.
Lastly, if you don’t know what you are doing, don’t just try and wing it. Ask for help.  I don’t try and attempt to fix my car, I go to a mechanic. I don’t try to do my taxes, I go to an accountant. I don’t try to pick out a suit, I go to my guy at Nordstrom’s (If you don’t have a guy, I highly suggest one) Therefore, if you don’t know what you are doing in regards to exercise, hire a trainer, join a semi-private group training session. Another option is joining a gym and hop into some Group Exercise Classes.

Bottom line is, GET HELP.

These are 4 tips that will not only help you get through the “Weight Gain Season” but will help you through your Weight Loss Journey. This is a journey that most of us travel on but very few are successful. It is now time to change this trend.