Reclaim your waist with 5 simple moves

After you polish off your second side of fries and the guilt sets in, you finally resolve to go the gym to work on those flabby abs. If it’s been a while since you’ve hit the gym and you’re thinking about resorting to those old school moves of crunches and sit ups, stop now.

Instead, use the five easy moves below to work on your abs without your spine exploding.

1. Heel touch- Lie on the floor, bend your knees to 90 degrees and bring them towards your chest until they’re above your hips. Breathe out as hard as can while slowly lowering one heel to the floor. Alternate heels while keeping the low back in neutral during the entire exercise. Do this for one to two minutes.

2. Leg lowering- Lie on the floor and raise both feet towards the ceiling while keeping the knees straight. Slowly lower left heel towards the floor, without ever touching it, while breathing all the air out of your lungs. Breathe in on the way back up and repeat this for six-eight reps on each side.

3. Dead bug– Lie on the floor, bend the knees to 90 degrees and bring them towards the chest until their above your hips. Then extend arms towards the ceiling. Take a deep breath in and lower the right arm behind you and extend the left leg in front of you while breathing out. Return to starting position and alternating sides. Do six-eight reps on both sides.

4. Rollbacks- Get into the end of a sit up position with heels and butt on the ground. With fingers behind the ears, take your chin to the chest and slowly lower yourself towards the ground, one vertebrae at a time. Once your low back touches the ground sit up again and repeat this sequence for one-two minutes.

5. Knee to elbow- Stand tall with arms by your side, elbows bent at 90 degrees and palms facing each other. Raise right knee towards ceiling and meet it with your left elbow, then left knee, right elbow. Keep alternating sides until you do 20 reps on both sides.

Knee to elbow A

Knee to elbow B

Wrapping up

You can do this as a circuit or insert one or more of these exercises into your current routine.

Keeping your core training simple and effective and not crunching like a mad man will help strengthen the muscles of the core and keep your low back a happy camper.

I love training the core and if you want any more ideas you can send me an email.

Email- shanemcleantraining@gmail.com

 

Advertisements

Efficient training

When I was footloose and fancy free, I had all the time in the world to train and I acted accordingly.

And before you ask, yes, dancing was a part of my pre-workout but I was no Kevin Bacon.

Now being a much older dude with a wife, kids, mortgage and all the trimmings, the demands on my time have grown exponentially.  I imagine this has happened to you too, now that you’re all grown up.

Those meathead sessions of curls and presses are now a thing of the past because as you get older, you need to be smarter about your exercise time. However, you still need your exercise to be effective and that’s where training efficiency come in.

 

dating

 

There is nothing special or magical about these exercise techniques below. They’re just a way of reorganizing your exercise to suit your schedule while still getting the results you deserve.

When you do have more time, you can bust a move like Kevin Bacon all you want.

 

Kevin bacon

 

1. Density training

Density training is about increasing the amount of exercise (sets X reps) you do in a given amount of time. You’ll improve your ability to do more exercise in less time, which is also known as improving your work capacity.

Density training is a fantastic training method for fat loss. You get a better body and improve your fitness level all at the same time.

What’s not to love?

Instructions

This type of training is best done two-three days per week with 48 hours rest in between trainings. All the exercises will be done for time. The work rest periods are as follows:

Beginner (you’re just starting out) 20 sec work/40 sec rest.

Intermediate (you’ve been exercising for 6 months) 30 sec work/30 sec rest.

Advanced (you’ve been getting after it for a year or more) 40 sec work/20 sec rest.

It’s a five-exercise circuit (one after the other) using the movements below.

Note-These are examples only, you can choose any variation you want

1. Squat variation – BW squatGobletSumo or Barbell squat

2. Push variation- Incline push upPush up or Dumbbell bench press.

3. Single leg exercise- Reverse lungeForward lunge or Side lunge (Alternating sides).

4. Pull variation- Rack pullDumbbell bent over row or Standing cable row.

5. Core- Alternating side plankMountain climbers or Front plank.

You’ll complete two-four circuits (depending on how much you have in the tank on training day) for a total training time of between 10-20 minutes.

Training tips

*  Have all the equipment you need near so you don’t need to move much and to    save time between exercises.

* Keep track of your reps and weight to measure improvement.

*  Do as many reps as possible within your time frame with correct technique.

Choose a weight which allows you to complete all your reps with good form.

*  Choose different variations to keep things fresh.

2. Timed sets

 When you’re pushed for time but you still want to get your sweat on, limiting your time, reps and the equipment you use is a great way to train with a minimum of fuss and fanfare.

There’s nothing magical about the 8 minutes and 8 rep protocol. You can change it to 5 and 5, 6 and 6 or 7 and 7 depending on how much time you have.

Instructions

Complete each training as a circuit, resting as little as possible between exercises. Rest 30- 60 seconds at the end of each circuit and do as many rounds as possible within eight minutes.

Select a weight that allows you to complete all repetitions with good form. If you’re stacking trainings, rest 90-120 seconds between rounds and choose no more than three in the one session.

You can mix and match these to your hearts content.

Eight-minute legs

1AGoblet Side Lunge– 8 reps on each leg

1B. Goblet squats- 8 reps

1CSingle leg hip extensions – 8 reps on each leg

Note- Use either a dumbbell or a kettlebell.

Eight-minute arms

1A. Overhead triceps extensions– 8 reps

1BConcentration curls – 8 reps on each arm

1CTriceps pushdowns– 8 reps

Note-You will need access to a cable machine and dumbbells. Keep them both close.

Eight-minute shoulders

1A. Band pull apart- 8 reps

1B. Band shoulder press- 8 reps on each arm

1C. Band In/Outs- 8 reps on each arm (four front raises/four lateral raises)

Eight-minute chest

1A. Dumbbell chest flies– 8 reps

1B. Single arm chest press– 8 reps on each arm

1C. Incline pushups– 8 reps

Eight-minute back

1A. Dumbbell pullover– 8 reps

1B. Bent over reverse flies– 8 reps

1C. Single arm row– 8 reps on each arm

Eight-minute core

1AFront plank with shoulder tap– 8 reps on each side

1B. Side plank with hip dip– 8 reps on each side

1C. Reverse crunches – 8 reps

3. Complexes

A complex is a series of exercises done back to back where you finish the reps of one lift before going on to another and the barbell (or dumbbells) only leaves your hands or touches the floor when all the lifts are done.

Complexes are fantastic training method for fat loss and building muscle and will save you a ton of time.   However, these are not for the faint of heart. They may look easy on paper but when you’re neck deep in one, it’s an entirely different matter.

Make sure you’re familiar with all the lifts before attempting any of the complexes below and keep the weight on the lighter side for the first set until you feel confident enough to crush it.

Note-Please warm up thoroughly before attempting these.

1. The bear barbell complex

  • Power clean
  • Front squat
  • Push press
  • Back squat
  • Push press

Complex 8 (do 3 sets and rest 90-120 seconds between complexes)

 Dumbbell 7-7-7 complex

  • Overhead triceps extensions
  • Hammer curl
  • Overhead press
  • Bent over row
  • Split squat left leg
  • Split squat right leg
  • Sumo burpee

 Note- You can find more complexes here.

Wrapping up

Being short on time doesn’t mean you short yourself the benefits of exercise. Increasing your intensity and condensing your training will keep you looking, feeling and moving great.

And who knows? You may give Kevin Bacon a run for his money after all.

 Email- shanemcleantraining@gmail.com

 

Winter training tips

The leaves are changing color, the winds are blowing and old man winter is starting to knock at your door. It’s that dreaded time when the temperature and your motivation to exercise drops faster than Usain Bolt winning the 100 meters.

You either cannot get out of bed to do your usual workout, the cold weather derails your outdoor exercise or your couch is just so comfortable that you and the couch have become one.

Hey no biggie, you say to yourself. You’ll drag out those comfy sweaters to keep those soft spots under wraps. Nobody will notice. However, one person will and that’s the only person that matters.

So put those oversized sweaters away and keep your motivation up and the scale down by following my winter workout tips. Your waistline will thank you.

1. Have a backup plan

 Let’s face it, there’s going to be times when going to the gym or outdoor exercise becomes almost impossible. Rather than just throwing in the towel and calling it a day, use the towel for this body weight circuit.

Use this has your back up plan.

Warm up

  1. Bodyweight squat 10 reps
  2. Incline push up – 5 reps
  3. Triple extensions – 20 reps
  4. Repeat once for a total of two circuits.

Concentric Body weight Training

1A. Triple extensions – 30 seconds

1B. Incline plyo push-ups- 6- 12 reps

1C.. Towel row 30 seconds

1D.. Single leg hip extensions 8-12 reps on each leg

Repeat this three times for a total of four circuits. Rest as little as possible between exercises and rest 1 minute at the end of each circuit.

2. Out of sight out of mind

If your danger food is in your house, you will eventually eat it. All those comforting carbohydrates that you’ll turn too when you’re either bored, hungry or cold, Just don’t buy them or throw them away.

If that’s too drastic, reward yourself after exercise when your body can accept extra calories. However don’t go crazy.

The same goes for those comfy sweaters. Pack them away. You don’t need to hide anything.

3. The world is your gym

During any holiday season when time and the weather is against you, it’s the time to get creative with your exercise. Think outside the gym. Here are some ideas.

  • Use cans of food for these arm and shoulder exercises.
  • Fill an empty milk jug to do these exercises
  • You don’t even need get off the couch to do this.

That’s just a few ideas. You’re only limited by your imagination.

Don’t let old man winter get in your way of your fitness. Get after it, have fun and smile and sweat.

If you need any help with your training, please contact me here.

Email- shanemcleantraining@gmail.com

The best exercise you’re not doing……..

This is a series on exercises that will give you the biggest bang for your exercise buck in and outside of the gym. Today’s exercise is the static back.

You should do this because–  it’s a great reset for posture when you’ve been sitting or standing a lot throughout the day.  If you have lower back pain, this will help relieve an achy back.

Makes your everyday life easier because– it helps relieve your stress and resets your breathing. People can breathe into their upper chest rather then their belly (where you should be breathing from)  during times of stress.

Form tips –  Make sure your legs are at a 90 degree angle and your head is in a comfortable position.  Breathe in through the nose and down into your belly and then breathe out through your mouth. Do this for 5- 10 minutes and relax.

Easy exercise

You may’ve heard the following exercise phrases before.

“Go hard or go home.”

“No pain, no gain.”

“Pain is a weakness leaving the body.”

“Sweat is fat crying.”

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

No pain

If your goal is to get stronger, lose weight or build muscle, exercise will be somewhat intense, uncomfortable and you’ll feel sore at times. But that’s okay because lifting weights isn’t meant to tickle.

However, not all exercise has to be balls to the wall. There are benefits to less intense, easier exercise that include

  • Reducing stress
  • Aiding recovery
  • Increasing mindfulness
  • Improving flexibility and mobility

And when you have no time, no motivation or you need a change of pace from your regular routine, engaging in some easy exercise could be just the ticket. Use the following exercises if that sounds like you.

1. Stretching

Due to the wonders of modern technology, you sit more and move less than your ancestors. Sitting and not moving for long periods over time can lead to tight hamstrings, hips and chest muscles and weakened glutes and upper back muscles.

Postural conditions such as rounded shoulders and lower cross syndrome have become more prevalent because of this.

These conditions are not a huge deal in the big scheme of things, but wouldn’t you rather have good posture?

what-causes-rounded-shoulders

If so, consider incorporating the following stretches into your daily routine.

Hip flexor stretch 1 minute on each side

Doorway chest stretch 15 seconds 5- 10 times on each side

Hamstring stretch 30-60 seconds on both legs

2. Mobility work

 I’m a mobility guy because the human body was made to move. Mobility allows you to squat, deadlift, push and pull like a champion. Furthermore, having good mobility helps you move well and often without pain or restrictions.

There are few other reasons why mobility is important, including

  • Mobility- it’s one of the original foundations of youth along with hypertrophy

 

  • Injury prevention- an unrestricted joint that can go through its full range of motion is a happy joint.

 

  • Becoming stronger– if your hip mobility is limiting your squat or deadlift then you’re not strengthening all parts of the movement.

Mobility exercise is uncomplicated and can be done anywhere at any time and small-time investments will have a huge payoff for your general wellbeing. Although there are a multitude of mobility exercises, these are the one I use for my clients on a regular basis.

Rocking ankle mobilization- 8 reps on both legs

Leg swings- 10 reps on both legs

Hip mobility series

Seated extensions 10- 15 reps

Back to the wall shoulder flexion- 10 reps

3. Walking

 Every day, weather permitting, I take my dogs for a walk. It’s great exercise for them and me and all it requires is a pair of shoes and some open space. It couldn’t be any easier.

There are numerous benefits of walking and there’s no need to rehash it all here. However, the hidden benefit of walking is that it reinforces our natural human contra lateral (opposite arm opposite leg) pattern of movement.

Walking is coordinated human movement that helps make other movements like jogging, sprinting and skipping easier .

Furthermore, walking is a use it or lose it scenario. Ever see elderly people shuffle their feet in fear of falling forward?  Or ride around on a motorized cart?  I rest my case.

Shuffling

The contralateral act of walking also activates the left and right hemispheres of your brain which can help you think clearer and reduce stress. Doesn’t all of this sound good?

Then strap on a pair of shoes and go for a walk.

4. Self-massage

 This can take many forms such as foam rolling, using your own hands or using golf, tennis or lacrosse ball. And depending on who you talk too, self-massage is either better than sliced bread or a complete waste of time.

That leaves plenty of middle ground to explore.

You should think of this as a poor man’s massage. Having hands on you with the massage therapist is more effective than other self-massage modalities. However, self-massage is cheaper and more accessible.

Any type of massage will help relieve muscular tension and bring healing blood flow to areas of your body.  Consider using the exercises below as part of your easy exercise routine.

Foot massage

Foam rolling hamstrings

Lower back

Upper back

Self-massage using your hands

Wrapping up

There are going to be times in your life when you’re tired, stressed and have a to do list as long as your arm and that’s where easier exercise comes in.  Now you’ll have to find a different excuse not to exercise.

If you need any help with your training, please contact me here.
 Email-shanemcleantraining@gmail.com

 

33 random gym observations……

Who doesn’t love lists? You get minimal time investment in reading them and little pearls of wisdom may get dropped on your forehead.

Plus, it’s not one of those long drawn out articles that at times can get bogged down with training principles and theories.

If you love lists and the gym, then I’ve got a little something for you.

While working at a health club smack bang in the middle of Downtown Dallas, I’ve seen stuff that that will make you scratch your head, make your eyes burn and make you want your forehead to meet a brick wall, repeatedly.

Let’s start off with this picture to get everyone in the mood……………………..

exercise-funny-2
Thought I was it and the bit

Because deep down we all want to be this cool.

1. Enough with fitness shaming (Hello, Biggest Loser). Instead fitness should be celebrated like American Ninja Warrior.

2. Training involves more than posting to Facebook or Instagram. Pick up a weight or two before the bragging begins.

3. Don’t ever show your underarm fat to a coach and ask, “What do I do about these chicken wings?” Do I really need to say why?

4. Those dance moves belong in a club and not in front of the dumbbell rack while I’m waiting to get my curls on.

5. Laying the weight plates by the weight stack doesn’t count as putting them away. Get your lazy so and so back there and burn a few extra calories by re-racking the weights correctly. See, was that so hard?

6. I think Liam Neeson said it best…………….

406121_532884786736344_1610709227_n

7. If you’re grunting so loudly that everybody can hear you, you better not have 10 pound dumbbells in your hands.

8. Why do you carry around that gallon water jug? There’s a water tap just over there.

9. Knee bends are not squats and never will be. Get some weight off the bar and aim your butt at your heels for a change.

10. Put some clothes on, please. Other gym goers don’t need to see some else’s private parts. Somethings are better left for the imagination.

11. It’s okay to sweat, dude, but please, pretty please clean up after yourself. You’re not at home anymore.

12. Wearing sunglasses while working out is never cool. I don’t care what Corey Hart says.

13. If you’re getting dirty looks while on your cell phone, you’re talking too loudly. No one needs to hear your pet name for your partner.

14. Stop wearing that weight belt for submaximal lifts and use your core muscles for a change.

15. Did you know the bicep muscles weight around a pound? So stop wasting so much time doing 15 different variations while admiring them in the mirror and grunting.

16. Stop bragging. Somewhere in the gym universe, someone is warming up with you max.

deadlifting

17. Stop telling everybody within ear shot how may times you’ve been hurt (I’ve been guilty of this). Nobody cares and that person in the wheelchair really doesn’t give a crap.

18.  Bacon goes with just about anything. Maybe even deadlifts.

19. Hogging a machine or piece of equipment is never cool. When someone asks, “Can I work in with you?” the answer should always be yes.

20. Exercise is never a punishment and is always a reward. I bet that guy in the wheelchair would love to walk again.

21. If you’re not doing some sort of squatting, deadlifting, single leg work, carrying, pressing or pulling in your gym training, you’re just spinning your wheels. The rest is just window dressing.

22. Playing Candy Crush on your phone while spotting your partner goes beyond stupid. Yes, this actually happened.

23. If you’re training just to look good, you’re missing the point.

24. If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve missed your anabolic window. Quick, go get some protein.

25. Farmer’s walks are the biggest bang for your buck exercise that hardly anybody does. Why? Cause they’re bloody hard.

26. Boot camps are for the army, not the gym. Everything else is group training.

27. Instead of telling everybody how it’s done, shut up and show them how it’s done (I’m guilty of this one, too).

28. Travis Pollen is amazing and there are many more like him in gyms everywhere. I have no excuses. Neither do you.

29. You cannot have enough strength in entire core (not just the abs), upper back and grip. Strengthening these three areas carries over to almost everything.

30. Why do people wake up at the arse crack of dawn just to run on a treadmill? One of life’s mind boggling mysteries.

31. Coffee makes early mornings bearable, barely.

caffeine-meme

32. When it comes to fitness, many different paths will take you to the same destination. Choose the fun path.

33. Never make eye contact with anyone while doing hip thrusts. They may get the wrong idea. Just saying.

The gym is a place where everybody can walk out bigger and stronger versions of themselves. Let’s keep it that way for everybody.  Share, be considerate, smile, get after it and let’s all have some fun.

If you need any help with your training, please contact me here.

Email- shanemcleantraining@gmail.com

 

 

 

It’s okay to suck

My first time in the weight room was an ugly experience. If anyone had told me then that I’d “grow up” to be a personal trainer, teaching others to pick up weights and put them down, I would’ve laughed directly in their face.

ha ha

Isn’t it funny how things work out? Here I am 26 years later, coaching people to be awesome in the weight room. Teaching them to be great means telling them to suck, however. Let me explain.

No gym newbie enters a gym knowing how to squat, push, pull and deadlift with good technique right away. These are difficult moves that work multiple muscle groups and require a certain amount of muscular co-ordination.

Complicating matters further, we come in different shapes and sizes and with slight differences in our anatomy. This allows you to do some exercises pain free while not being able to perform others.

Your push up might look different than my push up. This is one reason why “perfect” form doesn’t exist and comparing yourself to the person next to you in the gym is an exercise in futility.

Once you’ve gotten a grasp on how to squat, push, pull and hinge and you no longer ‘suck’ at doing these, you may hit a plateau. Results that came easier at the beginning have all but shriveled up. You look longingly at the scale hoping the needle goes up or down. But it doesn’t.

scale

This is when you need to start sucking again.

Your body is an efficient machine which will adapt quickly to whatever you throw at it. This process is known as homeostasis. So the next time you’re crushing your 5 sets of 5 reps on the bench press with a weight you’ve been using for a while, the body says

“Baa humbug. This is easy. I’ve seen this before. I don’t have to adapt to this. No new muscle for you.”

no soup for you

You could put more weight on the bar (which is always good) but if you’re stuck in a rut and unable to lift any more weight than you currently are lifting, there is another way. Let me introduce you to inefficient/self-limiting exercises.

These are exercises that provide an automatic yet natural obstacle (grip strength/core strength for example) that prevents you from doing it wrong, or performing excessive volume. (1)  Examples of inefficient/self-limiting exercises are barefoot running, weighted carries and push-ups.

Notice that I didn’t say biceps curls.

Biceps Chuck

If you’re stuck rut and want to take your overall conditioning to the next level, take these exercises out for spin. You may suck but that’s okay. They will make you a stronger, more resilient human being.

1. Weighted carries

 This is the biggest bang for your buck exercise that you’re probably not doing.  Why aren’t you doing them? Because they’re hard, that’s why. Your shoulders will ache, your grip will fail and it becomes a mental battle between you and the weight.

They seem simple. You pick up a weight and walk. However, they are not easy. Try some of the weighted carry variations below to become stronger because stronger is always better.

Dumbbell farmers carry

Overhead barbell carry

Suitcase carry

I like to combine carries with other exercises and put them in a circuit to train my weakness, like my upper body, because summer is just around the corner. For example

1A. Bent over barbell row, chin up or bench press variations. 6-12 reps

1B. Overhead barbell carry- 20 steps forward, then 20 steps back.

Or

1AZottman curl 12-15 reps

1BBarbell wrist curls 15 reps

1C. Any of the carries above 40 yards

 2.. Get back up…..and down again.

 Getting up and down from the ground is one of the hardest things we do (this is why burpees suck) but we barely practice it. Which is a shame because getting up from a fall can be difficult, even life threatening as we get older. (2)

The simple act of getting up and down from the ground will improve your strength, mobility and conditioning. And when you combine this with another exercise you have no choice but to get better.

Naked Turkish Get up

Try these out for a couple of minutes. Did you feel out of breath and sweaty?  Now try combining these with a strength exercise and feel your body getting stronger. For example

1A. Goblet squats or Kettlebell swings 20 seconds

1B. Get down and get up 2 reps or Naked Turkish get ups- 1 rep on each side

Repeat for as many rounds as possible for 10 -15 minutes. Rest when needed.

1A. Push-ups or Incline push-ups 6 reps

1B. Get down and get up 2 reps or Naked Turkish get ups- 1 rep on each side

Repeat for as many rounds as possible for 10 -15 minutes. Rest when needed.

Wrapping up

Sucking is something we avoid at all costs. However, if you put your ego aside and embrace the suck, you will be a stronger, tougher and better human being.

If you need any help with your training, please contact me here.

Email- shanemcleantraining@gmail.com