My kids love to challenge me to wrestling matches so they can reenact their favorite WWE Superstars. How can I resist? My kids get to live out their wrestling fantasies and I get to teach them a lesson or two without CPS being called.
Before you get CPS on the phone, they hurt me more than I hurt them. More on that later.
Wrestling matches spontaneously happen in our house on a regular basis without incident except for a few years ago, when I was going through some low back issues.
While smacking into each other, I felt an intense, sharp stabbing pain in my low back due to a back spasm and I could barely get up off the carpet. My kids looked at me all confused as I convulsed on the floor in pain.
“Daddy hurt his back again,” I explained. “No more wrestling today. Sorry.”
If you’ve ever suffered from a back spasm, you can feel my pain and if you haven’t ever had one, cross your fingers that you never do.
Leading an active lifestyle is healthy and fun but it comes with a risk. Sooner or later you’re going to get hurt and spend time on the DL. However, this always out weights the risk of being a lazy bum any day of the week.
Being a 47-year-old active male, I’ve had my fair share of minor injuries. Some have been my fault and some haven’t but through it all I’ve made it a point to remain active.
When you twist and then shout, rather than moping around and feeling sorry for yourself, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on the exercise horse with these following tips.
Note– This advice is meant for minor, non-life threatening injuries to help you with your recovery and keep you in a positive frame of mind.
1. Exercise around the injury
This one may seem obvious but you’ll be surprised how many people shut it down once they’re hurt. I’ve seen people in wheelchairs and other people missing limbs lift weights. If they can do it, the rest of us can, too.
Here are a few suggestions
- If your upper body is hurt, train your legs.
- If your legs are hurt, train your upper body with machines or dumbbells
- If your back hurts, walking, particularly fast walking, can help
- Try isometric exercises when the muscle produces force but there’s no movement. These are great when movement hurts
Push up plank
Isometric hip extension
2. Train the non-injured side
One of my toughest challenges was training a gentleman who had one leg amputed below his knee. He hired me to prepare him for his prosthetic leg. As you can imagine, exercise was tough for him because he was in a lot of pain and discomfort.
However, during our time together he never complained. If he could exercise without whining, then so can we.
A lot of what we did together was to strengthen the healthy limb to help strengthen the injured limb, a process called cross education. (1) To cut a long story short, some of the strength benefit is transferred from one limb to another.
In my experience, doing most of your training on a machine that allows you to train unilaterally works best. Machines like
- Leg extensions/Leg curls
- Chest presses/ Seated rows
- Biceps curl/Triceps extensions
Machines are not all bad especially when you’re injured.
3. Modify your movements
I once had a client whose doctor told her that she had to stop squatting immediately because of an old knee injury that flared up. My response to this was
“Well, that should make using the bathroom an interesting experience.”
Even while we’re injured, we still perform fundamental human movements such has squatting, pushing, pulling, hinging and carrying stuff around. Life doesn’t stop when we’re hurting and neither should your training.
Here are some exercise modifications examples for when your knee, shoulder or back is hurting/injured. These are stolen from Andrew Millet, an excellent Physical Therapist /Strength coach in Boston.
Low back pain modifications
Goblet squat to a box
Knee pain modifications
Trap bar deadlift
Shoulder pain modifications
Half kneeling Landmine press
One of the challenges of being injured is finding a way to keep moving because movement is medicine and this helps heal the body and keep your state of mind positive.
Keep moving and stay strong, amigos.
One of my worst exercise nightmares is a lady approaching me at the gym and getting right in my face while uttering, “What do I do about my chicken wing arms?”
Then she shows me.
This nightmare usually goes one of four ways:
1. With me giving an explanation that the body doesn’t pick and chose where to burn fat from
2. With me showing her every triceps exercise imaginable
3. With me smiling politely and wishing the conversation would end
4. Telling her I like my wings deep fried and smothered in BBQ sauce
Number 4 usually doesn’t go over to well.
The way your arms look is a big deal, particularly when you want to wear your favorite sleeveless shirt or dress. However, if you’re thinking of showing your arms to anybody while seeking advice, please don’t. In my experience it’s awkward and slightly embarrassing.
Instead do these exercises below in the comfort of your own home to get rocking arms that you’ll be happy to show off when the weather starts getting warmer. Do this routine now, and the next thing you know, people will asking you for arm advice.
Pick one exercise from each section and perform as a circuit, completing two -three rounds. Rest as little as possible between each exercise. Do this at the end of your usual workout or on your off days to get some extra volume in.
Either way, get after it and have some fun.
Using a light resistance band/dumbbells (have a stop watch handy), do as many curls as you can in 30 seconds. Make sure you glue your arms to your side and curl the handle/dumbbell to the top of your shoulders. Keep track of your repetitions and try to beat it next time around.
Isometric biceps curl– Using a resistance band or dumbbells, curl one arm to a 90 degree angle and hold. On the other hand do 15 biceps curls as described above. Then switch hands and repeat the sequence on the other hand.
Doing either of the above variations with palms facing towards each other to emphasize the lateral forearm and for a change of pace.
A solid incline base like a kitchen bench or chair arm rest works best. Place hands shoulder width apart and get into a solid push up position. Lower yourself down slowly until you feel your upper arms by your side and push back up explosively. Do anywhere between eight-twelve reps depending on your strength level.
Standing on a light resistance band with both feet and holding one handle, bring your bent arm to your ear. Extend elbow overhead, keeping your elbow close to your head and concentrating on the lockout. Do 12- 15 reps on both arms. A dumbbell can be substituted for this movement, too.
Lying two way triceps extension
Lie face up on the floor, holding one dumbbell facing towards and above your head. Lower the dumbbell down to your ear and extend. Then with the dumbbell facing away from you lower the dumbbell to your opposite shoulder and then extend. That’s one rep. Do eight-twelve reps on both arms.
Get in a strong push up position with your wrists underneath the shoulders. Then take one hand of the ground and tap the front of your opposite shoulder and return to the start. Then do the other side. Keep alternating sides for 30- 60 seconds.
Hinge your hips back and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the ground. Your back should be straight from head to butt and you should feel tension in the hamstrings.
With arms hanging down and thumbs point forward, raise your arms until they’re by your head and return to the start. Then raise your arms into Y and return to the start. Last but not least raise your arms until they form a T. That’s one rep. Do anywhere between five- eight reps.
Single arm in and outs (resistance band or dumbbell)
Standing tall holding the weight in one hand do a front shoulder raise. Return to the start and then do a lateral raise, going not further than shoulder height with both raises. That’s one rep. Do anywhere from six- eight reps on each arm.
Do this routine two or three times a week for best results. With a little hard work, dedication, persistence and sweat, better looking arms will be within your reach. You may end up needing a license for those guns.
Do you need help getting stronger ladies? Then I have the program for you. A 12-week online program that will help you get stronger and more confident in the gym.
This program includes
- A through fitness assessment. This assessment lets me know where you stand and is the baseline against which we can measure your progress.
- A Skype consultation to discuss your short-term and long-term goals. This will allow me to write a customized program and to answer any questions you may have.
- 12 weeks of customized programming, broken into 3 4 week blocks
- Regular Skype and email check ins to see how your progressing and to answer any questions you may have.
Hurry, spaces are limited. Find out more and grab your spot right here.
With springtime creeping up, you’d prefer to spend more time enjoying life rather than slogging away for hours in a gym. However, you still want to look good and get results from your exercise. This is when high intensity interval training comes to your rescue.
HIIT is repeated bouts of short duration, high-intensity exercise intervals interspersed with periods of lower intensity intervals of active recovery. Yes, it’s hard work, but that 15-20 min of intense exercise will turn you into a lean, mean calorie burning machine.
Other benefits of HIIT include
- You don’t need gym equipment
- You’ll be burning calories after exercise because of EPOC
- You can do this anywhere and anytime
So go ahead and eat that sundae with chocolate sprinkles. You can burn it off later with a little help from HIIT.
1. Total body tri-set
Warm up for three minutes and do this total body tri-set to pump up those arms and legs.
Rest when need between exercises and one minute after each circuit. Do three-five circuits.
Warm up for three minutes and then use the tabata protocol (20 sec work/10 sec rest for six- eight rounds) with the following bodyweight exercises.
Usually one will do you but by all means, you can stack them. Make sure to rest 3 min between tabata rounds.
3. Circuit training
Do the following five exercises as a circuit (doing one exercise after another), completing two-four rounds for a sweat-inducing good time.
1B. Front plank
1C. Speed squats
1D. Towel rows (alternate legs)
Use these HITT work/rest intervals for the circuit above.
20 sec work/40 sec rest (Beginner)
30 sec work/30 sec rest (Intermediate)
40 sec work/ 20 sec rest (Advanced)
4. Walk/sprint combo
Find yourself some open space and get your Usain Bolt on.
Walk for three 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.
Keeping your cardio short and sweet leaves you more time to enjoy the finer things in life, like ice cream with sprinkles.