Fun fitness, fitness fun

Dino 2

Exercise is a reward for the body and never a punishment.

Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way. Go to any gym and witness all those unhappy sweaty people on their torture machines of choice trying to burn off last night’s indulgence.

That’s no fun, and ultimately this leads to a road of heartache and failure. Want proof?  More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese , but it’s not like Americans are taking their heath for granted.

According to data by Marketdata Enterprises, Americans spend $60 billion annually to try to lose pounds, on everything from paying for gym memberships and joining weight-loss programs to drinking diet soda. Something is out of whack.

Rather than continuing down the path of punishment, put the fun back into your fitness. According to Michelle Segar, author of No Sweat, enjoyment is the best motivator for exercise.

“Logic doesn’t motivate us; emotions do,” says Segar. In other words, people who exercise for enjoyment stick with it more than those who do so for medical reasons.  When you enjoy something, you’re more likely to do it again and exercise can be one of those things.

If exercise has become a chore or you need some extra oomph to stay on the fitness path, use the following strategies to put the enjoyment back into your fitness.

  1. Play your favorite sport again

Think back to when you were a child.  What sports did you play? Was it baseball, football, soccer, track and field, basketball or hockey? Hopefully, it wasn’t that long ago. J

Now is the time to dust off those smooth moves. Take your fitness and moves to a recreation league or your local YMCA. Now you can base your exercise routine around your sport and exercise with a purpose.

  1. Have a change of scenery

Going to the same gym, using the same equipment, doing the same exercises and seeing the same people slaving away will get stale in a hurry.

Instead, go train at a friend’s gym or take your training outside with resistance bands or your own bodyweight. Run sprints at your local park or try a group exercise class that you’ve never done before.

These are only a few suggestions. Please go and get creative.

  1. Play
play
Play

 Play seems like a foreign concept as we grow older and have the added responsibility of being an adult. Instead, I want you to think back to when you were a child, when you moved and played in ways that made you happy.

Do you think children needs to go to the gym and bore themselves to death on a treadmill? I think not.

Instead, jump rope, play catch with a friend (or with your child), insert yourself in one of your kids’ games or take your dogs for a walk and throw them a ball. Before you know it, you’ll be sweating, smiling and having fun without realizing it’s exercise. Who would have thought?

  1. Friendly competition

Exercising with a partner has been shown to increase exercise adherence. Use these fun drills will a friend and you’ll be sweating and smiling in no time.

Stability ball wrestle

ball

You and your partner will be too busy trying to knock each other off balance, rather than realizing that you’re working on your ankle stability/mobility, balance and core stability.

Set up – Put one foot on top the ball making sure your knee is bent 90 degrees. Your partner puts the opposite foot on the ball.

Rules– Both people are trying to knock the other one off balance by rolling the ball aggressively with their feet.

This exercise can be done as a timed warm-up, for 30 seconds or so on each foot.  Or you can turn this into a friendly competition. Every time some loses his/her balance it results in a point for the opponent. First to 5 or 10 wins. J

The boxer

This exercise with work on your power, muscular endurance and hand-to-eye coordination. You’ll be too busy hitting your partner’s hands to realize any of this.

Set up– Use a resistance band with handles looped round a solid anchor point. Bring hands to shoulder level and keep the resistance band tight.  Your partner puts hands up, open palms facing forward and away from the face.

Rules- Hit the open palm (with a clinched fist), one hand at a time. Your partner can change his/her hand position up, down or left and right to increase the challenge.

Do this for time (30 seconds) and record the amount of hits, and then your partner can try to beat it. Winner takes all, baby.

Wrap up

Rather than slaving away and exercise becoming some kind of chore, insert some fun into your routine to keep on the fitness straight and narrow.

 

 

 

Exercise for the busy person

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I am going to let you in on a little secret. You don’t need to spend hours in the gym, slaving away, with little or no results. All I ask of you is 32 minutes a week, to get the body you deserve.

The training below is what’s called MINIMUM EFFECTIVE DOSE. This is simply the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome. In your case, fat loss and muscle gain.  Anything beyond the MED can be wasteful.

For example, to boil water, the MED is 212°F (100°C) at standard air pressure. Boiled is boiled. Higher temperatures will not make it “more boiled.” Higher temperatures just consume more resources that could be used for something else more productive.

Sometimes more is not better. This goes for exercise too.  Indeed, your greatest challenge with the routine below is resisting the temptation to do more. When followed to the letter, this MED routine below not only delivers GREAT results, but it does so in 32 minutes a week.

INSTRUCTIONS

Follow the training below, 4 times per week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday) for six weeks. Use nothing less than 100% effort.

You can thank me later.

Day 1

Close grip push-ups 10 reps (Can be done on an incline surface)

Inverted rows 10 reps

Kettle bell swings or Triple extensions -20 reps 

Rest 60 seconds and repeat this for a total of 5 rounds

DAY 2

Walk for two minutes and then sprint for 15 seconds (100 % effort) followed by a 15 second walk. Repeat for five work/rest intervals and then cool down with a three minute walk.

(This can be done on treadmill, track, bike, rowing machine, elliptical. You choose)

DAY 3

Push-ups – 10 reps

Side planks- 15 seconds each side

Bodyweight squats 20 reps

Rest 60 seconds and repeat this for a total of 5 rounds

DAY 4

REPEAT DAY 2

The scale and the mirror may become your best friends after this. 🙂

At home exercises

We haven’t always got time to get our sweat on at the gym because sometimes life gets in the way.

When this is the case, just a few household items you already have and a little effort  will provide you with a great stay at home full body workout that will have you sweating and smiling in no time.

So just for a little while, that couch is not for sitting on, those paper plates aren’t for eating off and that towel is not for drying your hands. Get to it 🙂

Note- Watch the videos first

1. Couch

Coaching Cues:

Elevated split squat – Drop your back knee and then push through your front heel.

Decline pushups – Maintain strong plank position, squeeze your butt and have your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart.

Couch jumps – Hinge hips back with your weight on your heels and land quietly.

2. Paper plates

Coaching Cues:

Plank reach – With hands on the plates, slide one hand as far as you can without comprising your plank position and alternate sides.

Plank walk– With toes on the plates, take small steps with your hands while your feet drag behind you. Maintain strong plank position throughout.

3. Wall

Coaching Cues:

Face the wall squats – Fingers behind the ears, face the wall and have your feet hip width apart. Stand far enough away from the wall that no part of your body touches the wall while you’re squatting.

Bodyweight row – Have your head, butt and heels touching the wall. Have your hands shoulder width apart at shoulder height. Touch elbows to the wall and push into the wall for a count of 3 seconds.

Explosive pushups – Have your hands shoulder width apart and your wrists just below shoulder height. Lower slowly and explode away and clap.

4. Towel

Coaching Cues:

Towel row– Place towel under your mid foot and take a big step back with your opposite foot. Lean torso forward with straight back and a puffed out chest.

PUTTING THIS ALL TOGETHER

Do the following routine as a circuit resting as little as possible between exercises and circuits. Do 2- 3 rounds and have some fun.

  1. Couch jumps – 6- 8 reps
  2. Decline pushups 8-12 reps
  3. Elevated split squat 12 rep on each leg
  4. Towel row- 30 seconds ( alternate legs)
  5. Plank reach or drag 8-12 reps on each hand
  6. Face the wall squats – 12 reps
  7. Explosive pushups- 8- 12 reps
  8. Bodyweight row- 1 minute

Do you need any help designing your exercise routine? Email me at shanemcleantraining@gmail.com for a free consultation.

Move, smile and de-stress

We all lead busy lives. Between work, family and the time we spend helping others, we have less time to devote to our health and wellness. This can lead to stress and weight gain. These 2 factors can go hand in hand.

However, we can start to reverse this by just being more active.

stress

Study by Levine (2005) recruited 20 healthy volunteers, 10 lean people (5 men 5 women) and 10 people classified as grade 1 obese (5 men and 5 women). Levine was looking for physical activity differences between these 2 groups.

Levine found that grade I obese sat for 164min a day longer than there lean counterparts and lean people were standing and active for 153 min than there obese counterparts. This lead to the lean people burning 352 calories a day which is the equivalent to 36.5 grams of fat per year. WOW

Seems a little bit too good to be true, right? Just stand and be more active lose a bunch of weight. It maybe, but it’s a good start.  If you lack time, or been inactive for a long period time, I challenge you to find 30 min in your day , 7 days a week to be more physically active.

This doesn’t have to be consecutive 30 min. You can break this up into 3 * 10 min blocks or even 6 * 5 min blocks. It doesn’t matter. Just find time in your day to be active.

move

Here are some suggestions

  1. Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  2. Walk during your lunch hour
  3. Walk to your co workers desk instead of emailing.
  4. Pace the sidelines at your kids athletic games
  5. Housework and walk around your house
  6. Walk your dog
  7. Bring your groceries from your car into your house one bag at a time
  8. Perform gardening and easy to do home repair projects

 

This list can go on. But you get the idea. All I ask of you is to find 30 min day for better health.  And don’t forget to 🙂 either.

 

 

Balance training for lifters

I’m a reformed meathead. I used to declare every Monday as chest and arms day, grunted heavily while curling in the squat rack and thought everyone who did lunges should just squat. I thought working out was about moving the most weight and getting checked out by the ladies, hopefully at the same time.

flex

After spending many years under the bar while dealing with various back, leg, elbow and shoulder injuries, I’ve changed my tune. No lifter likes spending time on the DL or in a Physical Therapists office lifting pink dumbbells and doing unnatural things to stability balls.

Lifters who focus on the big 3(squat, bench and deadlifts) can develop muscle imbalances. Some become either quad or hamstring dominant or don’t balance pressing with adequate amounts of pulling. Then muscle strains, aches and pains can darken the lifter’s doorstep.

Or worse, you’ll start to look like this guy.

upper cross

Balance training is not only about standing on one foot or performing circus tricks on a Bosu ball. It’s also about correcting strength imbalances between our left/right sides and muscle imbalances from opposing muscle groups.

The better balanced you are, the less likely you’re spending time on the DL and more likely that you’ll have a better performing body. That’s a win- win for you and your lifting numbers.

Use the tests below to see how balanced you really are.

Hamstring to Quadriceps Strength Ratio

Hamstrings should have between 60 % – 75% the strength of the quadriceps. This ratio has been discounted in some circles but I feel it’s a good starting point. You don’t need fancy equipment for this test, just access to a leg extension and leg curl machine. I knew these were good for something.

Instructions

Work up to your 5 repetition maximum on both machines, testing one leg at a time with good form.  Rest 3 minutes between the quad/hamstring test and rest as needed between attempts. Record numbers for both machines, and then its math time.

Leg curl divided by leg ext. x 100 = %

For example 60/90 x 100 = 66% Hamstring/Quadriceps strength ratio.

If the ratio is less than 60% include more hip dominant exercises into your routine, especially after your big strength movement for the day. Here are some examples

  1. Dumbbell deadlifts
  2. Romanian deadlifts
  3. Cable pull through

Super setting these type of exercises with another glute movement works best to help strengthen the entire backside. For example

1A. Romanian deadlift- 12 reps

1B. Lateral band walk – 12-15 reps

Or

1A. Dumbbell deadlift- 12 reps

1B. Single leg hip extension 12 reps on each leg

Work in the higher repetition ranges (12-15) to groove and master the pattern before worrying about adding weight. Retest this in 4-6 weeks and admire the results.

Standing on one foot

Single leg balance is probably the most overlooked factor in training, and it’s fundamental to almost everything we do. Walking, taking the stairs or playing your favorite sport all involve single leg balance to some degree. If it’s important in our everyday life, it’s important enough to train in the gym.

In Dan John’s book, “Can you go?” he suggests balancing for less than 10 seconds on either leg is a cause for concern, and there maybe an underlying medical condition.

Grab a stopwatch and see if you can balance between 10-20 seconds on both feet. If you’re between 10-20 seconds, work on your ankle mobility to see if that helps improve your balance.  However, if it’s less than 10 seconds, take Dan’s advice and go see your doctor.  It may just save your life.

Left /right side imbalance

Most of us have strength imbalances between sides due to activities of daily living. For instance, I carry the groceries in my left hand so I can use my keys to open the door with my right hand. Over time, my left side has become stronger that my right.

groceries

Rather than feed this imbalance with barbell exercises, unilateral work will help turn this weakness back into a strength and your lifting numbers will improve as a result.

Note- core strength will be a factor in unilateral upper body work. You cannot get enough core work, in my humble opinion.

Instructions 

I chose the cable single chest press/row for this test. However, any dumbbell unilateral variation will do. For example, you can do the dumbbell shoulder press, bench press, floor press or any unilateral row.

After warming up, work up to your 5 RM on the cable row, alternating arms and working with good form. Progress by raising the weight 5-10 pounds at a time.   Rest when needed, especially when the weight starts getting heavy. The test stops when you can no longer lift the weight (or it’s a mighty struggle) for 5 reps on either side. Do the same for the cable chest press.

After completing this test, it should become apparent whether or not you have a strength imbalance between your left/right sides with the press, the pull or both.

If this is the case, start plugging more unilateral pressing and pulling into your current routine. Do this a couple of times per week and start with the weaker side first. Let your weaker side dictate what your stronger side does

Do this after your strength movement for the day and work in any repetition range (4-6, 6-8, 8-12 or 12-15) you desire, depending on your goals. Super setting these movements works best. For example

1A. 3 point dumbbell row

1B. One arm floor press

Retest this again in 4-6 weeks to see if your body has played catch up.

Wrapping up

Injuries and strength imbalances happen whether you like it or not, but that doesn’t mean you have to take this lying down. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

No pink dumbbells and stability balls for you!