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Don’t be an Ostrich

    If you have been training with us for any reasonable amount of time, you have probably been cued to keep your head and neck in good position during any multitude of exercises, from squats to planks. If you have been training with somebody else who is good, you’ve probably been cued similarly 🙂 If you have been training with somebody else or yourself, you may not have a clue what I am talking about but this is important stuff so read on!

Head and neck alignment is extremely important, whether you are talking about basic standing posture or mid exercise.  When we look at our cervical spine, we have 7 vertebrae. The upper 2 vertebrae and the muscles around them function differently than the lower 5 vertebrae (bottom of C2 to top of T1), with the former rocking and tilting the skull/head and the latter moving and positioning the rest of the neck.  That being said, they all work/move together to flex, extend, rotate and side bend the head and neck. Any time the head is positioned forward excessively, as seen in forward head carriage, the region of the upper 2 cervical spine is compressed as the head cocks back in order to keep the body upright,  Much of the lower region is then excessively stretched and slacked.  This is bad not only because of the effects it has on the head and neck, but also because of the effects it has the rest of the way down the body. If the head is out of position, the thorax is then pushed back, which will cause the ribs to be out of position, disrupt breathing and stress the mid and low back; all undesirable things to have happen.  In response to this, the pelvis will tilt forward and the low back will over extend, causing even more low back stress and hip issues.  This all occurs in order to keep the body upright and centered in space.  The body always finds a way to “right” itself.  So when something is off up top or down low in the feet, compensations occur each joint up or down to help keep things upright and level as much as possible.  This picture sums it up pretty well and simply.  The only thing it does not show is the cocking back of the head that usually occurs.

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    This is just the tip of the iceberg.  You can imagine what might happen if your head or neck are out of position during a squat or a pushup.  If it distorts positioning in a standing posture, you better believe that it will cause dysfunction with movement and in turn, hurt performance.  So, next time we cue your head position during your workout, you will have a decent idea why. If you would like to prance around like an ostrich with your head way out in front of you, that is perfectly fine; just don’t complain when things start hurting.

There are many things that contribute to this and that result from this, from muscular issues to breathing issues. If we look at the musculature of the neck region, we can divide things into front, sides and back (kind of). Starting with the front (anterior), we have the Sternocleidomastoid, more commonly just called the SCM. This muscle is responsible for neck flexion, rotation to the opposite side and some side bending. It is the most superficial, or outermost, muscle on the front of the neck and is often overactive in many people. When someone has forward head carriage, you can usually bet that their SCM will be overactive. This muscle also commonly compensates for weak abdominal, psoas and diaphragm muscles further on down the body. When someone works their ABZ with boatloads of  crunches and situps, you’ll often hear complaints of neck pain. Well guess what? Its because they are compensating like crazy with their SCM to do the job that the rectus abdominis (six pack muscle) is supposed to be doing.

Deep to, or beneath, the SCM are the deep neck flexor muscles, the longus colli and capitis. While the SCM typically will pull the head forward in front of the body, these deeper muscles will pull the chin back in towards the throat and promote a good head and neck posture. They are very commonly weak in many people, especially those with neck and breathing issues. They also run along the same line of fascia as the diaphragm and psoas muscles, which all should ideally work together to provide a solid, deep base of stability for the rest of the body to work off of.  There are also multiple small muscles in this area that control movement of the various bones of the jaw, called the infra and suprahyoids.  For the purposes of keeping this article simple, we’ll leave them out of the discussion.

Moving to the back side, we can look at muscles that control the different cervical sections mentioned above (C1-2 vs C3-7). The suboccipitals (rectus capitis major and minor, oblique capitis superior and inferior) control the rocking and tilting of the head and neck w/ movement of the upper cervicals. With forward head carriage, they will cock the skull back and become overactive and painful, often leading to headaches and neck pain. Research shows that these muscles also have big implications with balance and body awareness. Though they are small little guys, they are extremely important.  It has been shown that the rectus capitis minor even has connections with the dura mater of the brain.  (Must be kind of a big deal)

Below here, we have layers of muscles that control extension of the rest of the neck. Cervical erectors (further broken down to iliocostalis cervicis, longissimus cervicis and capitis and spinalis cervicis) mainly help extend the neck, splenius capitis and cervicis help extend and rotate the head and neck to the same side, and transversospinalis (further broken down to rotatores, multifidi and semispinalis cervicis) muscles help extend and rotate to the opposite side.  These guys cover the gist of it. We also have levator scapulae and upper traps branching off to the sides from the cervical spine to control both the shoulder girdle and the neck (elevation and rotation to the opposite side as well as downward and upward rotation of the scapula respectively), which are usually overactive in this situation (though not always).

Between the front and back, we have the scalenes, which can be divided into anterior, middle and posterior.  These help to side bend, rotate to the same side and flex the head and neck.  They are very important with upper rib positioning and overall neck stability, and should assist with breathing. (ASSIST not take over)

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Note how many different angles the various muscles on the neck run, front to back, side to side, curving this way and that.  It is a very complex area of the body and you can see that each “section” is, in all reality, connected.To sum the basic situation up. When someone has poor neck alignment, or forward head carriage for the purposes of this article, the SCM’s and suboccipitals will be overactive and the deep neck flexors and lower cervical extensors will be inhibited and/or weak (sometimes with levator and/or upper trap being overactive). Throw some rotation into the picture and you will be looking at side to side differences. We can go further down and look at overactive pec minors with underactive low traps, elevated versus depressed shoulder girdle, etc. For now, we’ll keep it at the neck but just know that the effects carry on down the whole body and that there will be some variation depending on the individual at hand.

The bottom line is this: Keep your neck packed in alignment with the rest of your spine and trunk and you will feel better, move better and perform better.

In conjunction with this, proper breathing patterns and diaphragm function are also very important to help keep muscles in the neck region balanced out appropriately. Without good diaphragm function and solid rib expansion, rib elevation will cause muscles in the neck, especially the scalenes, to overwork and flare up with inflammation and pain. This can obviously affect overall alignment and is a very important deal.  Heck, though I haven’t gotten into it yet, vision issues can also have influence and be influenced by this stuff.  It really is pretty amazing. 

Finally, talking about this anatomy stuff is all wonderful but when it comes down to it, you need to know how this looks in action, and this is the main thing I want to get across with this post.

This shows the basic good and bad positions to be in up top.  Notice how the head and neck placement affect the rest of the shoulder girdle.  This is also an exercise/drill that can be done to fire and/or strengthen the appropriate muscles either upright, inclined or face down.
This shows improper and proper neck/head position during a squat.   Notice how my back and hips are affected with the different head/neck placement.
This shows improper and proper neck/head position during a deadlift. Again, notice how it affects the rest of the kinetic chain.

This all carries over to multiple activities.  Hopefully this gives you some good ideas to help you out with life and training!  If you struggle with this issue, I recommend starting out with some “chin tuck” drills like I show in the first video.  Just do a few sets of 15-20 reps daily, starting straight up and then working to an incline and eventually face down.  Next, start consciously drilling the  proper positioning when you squat, deadlift, do pushups, etc.

When it comes down to it, you have two choices.  Be an ostrich or be a Beast with a solid and stable neck.  The choice is yours.

Never Stop Short

Who is ready to get motivated and amped up today?!!!

I just finished reading a great inspirational book called “Three Feet from Gold,” by Greg Reid and Sharon Lechter. I usually try to read at least one success/business book each month and this was a very fun and motivating read. The principles that the book goes through are based off of the classic “Think and Grow Rich,” one of my favorite books of all time and sure to be found on pretty much any successful person’s top five list. Three Feet puts these principles into story form and goes through the adventure of a character who is initially struggling with his life, and follows him as he changes his outlook and begins to transform his life into happiness and success. It follows him as he travels around interviewing many different successful people (these are real people who gave real insight for the book) about their own stories and wisdom; stories about overcoming adversity with passion and commitment to achieve success and happiness. In a nutshell, if you read this and are not totally motivated to go full force into working on a passion or goal of yours, then I don’t know what to tell you.

Anyhow, the book gives out principles of success as the story goes on. It is my goal with this article to highlight some of my favorites that I took from it and elaborate on how they can potentially help you or how they’ve played a part in my journey thus far.

The first one is two points that I am combining because they go together well.

The most common cause of failure is quitting. Before great success comes, you will surely meet with temporary defeat.”

This is as straight forward as it comes and something that one would think would be common sense; however, the majority of people out there continually let temporary defeats beat them and they quit before they even give themselves a chance. Fitness is a great example here. Someone starts working out. Lets call him Bob. Bob wants to lose 10 pounds of fat and build some muscle. He trains for one month and he is no better. He gets frustrated and claims that working out doesn’t work and he can’t get in shape. 3 months go by and he again decides to give this fitness thing a shot. This time he works out for 2 months and drops a couple pounds of fat. Well with two whole months of training, he should surely be down at least 10, right?! He quits again because he just can’t seem to make it happen. Think about this: What if he hadn’t quit for 3 months and had been training for the full 6 months without a break. Imagine where he could have been then. This is what TONS of people do and it goes into another great point from the book.

“To succeed, you must have STICKABILITY.”

Whether you are talking about reaching a fitness goal or succeeding in a business venture, this is essential. “It takes years to become an overnight success.” Being in great shape takes more than days or months. It takes years of dedication and perseverance. When people aren’t magazine material after 2 months, they lose all hope and just quit. If they would stay with it, they would blow past their initial goal before the next time they decide to start over again after quitting. Careers and businesses take time to develop and grow. When I first started out training people after college, I had around 2 to 3 in home clients, with not a lot of income. I then started working out of a gym and GRADUALLY built up clientele. I KNEW that I wasn’t going to have my own facility with boatloads of clients coming through the door in the first month or even the first FEW YEARS. However, I had an end goal in mind and knew that I would make things happen. Fast forward to current day. We just passed our one year anniversary at my facility and we have a long ways to go with it. If we do a little bit each day to get better, it will compound over time. I’m sticking with it.

I overheard one of my coaches the other day, Dan Zwirlein, talking to some clients about his journey to where he is at with his training and body. Dan is a pretty big guy (and lean) and probably one of the best lifters in the country. Many people probably just assume that he is just naturally “big.” Dan explained how its taken years of hard work and dedication with training and diet to get where he is at. He has stickability; and it shows.

“The Knowing- There is a big difference between believing in something and knowing it.”

As I stated just above, I KNEW that I was going to make my dream happen. I had and have confidence in my abilities in this field and continue to better myself every day. So even though I wasn’t making tons of money or training superstar athletes right away, I just kept honing my craft and kept doing what I’m passionate about: helping the great clients and amazing people that I did have. If you do that good enough, then more people are going to follow. When I had my injury that kept me out of competition and heavy lifting for awhile, I KNEW that I’d get back to a high level again.  I did everything possible to get past the injury and come back stronger than ever.  When Dan injured his shoulder and was told he might not be able to lift again, he never once thought about quitting.  He worked his ass off to get back under a bar and never looked back.  Professional athletes don’t just magically end up in a prime time game.  They have a vision and a dream and they do everything necessary to make that vision a reality.  Every single successful fat loss client that I’ve ever worked with KNEW they’d transform their bodies and lives.  Don’t just believe, Know.

If you are venturing into your journey of transforming your body, KNOW that you will succeed. The mind controls everything. If you know that you’re going to make it, you will. Want to Deadlift 2 or maybe even 3 times your bodyweight? KNOW that you are going to get there and friggin smash it. Successful people in any endeavor don’t know what doubt is. They just go to war and don’t look back.

“Seek counsel, not opinions, and then pass it on.”
    There is a great point with this one about the difference between opinions and counsel. “Opinions are usually based on ignorance, or lack of knowledge, whereas counsel is based on wisdom and experience.” Lets go back to our friend Bob. While he is on his great quest to get in shape, he has plenty of negative “friends” giving their OPINIONS about A. how he is a clown for trying to get in shape, B. how he can’t get in shape; its just too hard C. how he needs to run tons of miles and do lots of cardio to get in shape (insert any other unfounded misinformation about training here). Most people that he knows give their opinions, which have no rationalized knowledge or experience behind them.

What Bob needs to do is seek out COUNSEL from an expert who A. KNOWS that Bob can reach his goal, B. Has actual KNOWLEDGE, WISDOM and EXPERIENCE with training and truly understands how to get him from point a to point b, and C. Supports him on his quest rather than ridicules him for trying to do something positive with his life.  Once he does this, he needs to pass on his new knowledge and wisdom to others who are in his original position. Not only will this help those who he counsels, but it will help him to grow and get even better himself.   I’ve learned this first hand through teaching interns and doing continuing ed material.

Back to the ridicule point…..I can’t begin to fathom why some people have close family and friends who literally make fun of them for trying to change their lives and get in shape (or start a business or make a career change, etc.) It is absolutely ridiculous yet it happens all of the time, which brings me to my next point.


“Run from people with negative attitudes.”

“People take in the nature and the habits and the power of thought of those with whom they associate in a spirit of sympathy and harmony.” In other words, if you hang around negative deadbeats, you will probably be somewhat of a negative deadbeat yourself. Want to be a successful, positive person? Then hang around other successful, positive people. Want to get freakishly strong? Then train with freakishly strong people. Want to run a great business? Spend some time picking the brains of people who run great businesses. I think you catch the trend.

If the people you surround yourself with most do nothing but bring you down and stress you out, then maybe its time to change who you surround yourself with. Whether you are trying to change your body, your career, a relationship, etc. you have to be surrounded by the right people or it won’t happen. I have been fortunate enough to have many great mentors and many great colleagues, friends and partners over the years and I would not be where I am today without their help. If someone has a negative attitude, I run. If someone comes into my facility with a negative attitude, we try to change it. If its the rare case where we can’t change it, they’re gone. One negative attitude can disrupt ten positive attitudes. Can’t have it; plain and simple.

“Accentuate the positive and illuminate the negative.”

This is a big one. Many people tend to do just the opposite. They shun the positive aspects of a venture aside and accentuate the negative things. I have worked with hundreds of clients over the years and a common thing that I tend to see with people who are still on the beginning end of their training is that they focus on all of the things that they still HAVEN’T accomplished and totally disregard all of the great things that they HAVE accomplished.

For example, I might get someone who trains for 3 to 4 months and loses, lets say, 5% bodyfat and has gained good strength on most of their big movements, like front squats, deadlifts and pushups. They have also reached 6 new short term goals with their nutrition and are making great progress overall. However, instead of appreciating these good things that, if given the chance to compound, will turn into amazing, great, awesome things, they only look at the fact that their scale weight (oh dear don’t get me started) is only down 2 pounds, they still can’t see their abz all the way, they don’t feel perfect in those pants they bought, etc. etc. They focus on the things that they HAVEN’T accomplished.

What they need to do is appreciate all of the positive things that they HAVE accomplished, realize that there is still work that needs to be done and use it as motivation to CONTINUE to get better. As I said before, success doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve been training myself for around 15 years and I’ve still got a ways to go; however, I am very proud of the things that I have accomplished while realizing there is still more for me to improve upon. It is a great journey that I embrace fully. I’ve been training clients in some capacity for 7 to 8 years and continually try to improve. I’ve had my own facility for just over one year and am happy with what I’ve accomplished while still appreciating the fact that there are many improvements to be made. Its all about mini victories and continual improvement.  Appreciate the positives with what you have done but stay humble and strive for more at the same time.

We have some clients at our gym who I’ve worked with for multiple YEARS. They have literally transformed their bodies and lives. They appreciate what they’ve done. In light of that, they then find new goals to strive for and take things to another level. If you want to get to that other level, you need to appreciate each step and improvement that you make, because if all you do is dwell on what you haven’t done, you will never get to that higher level.

KNOW that you will get there and that you are killing PR’s and FEEL your body and your mind change and improve.

CHERISH the journey and become GREAT!
While there are a number of other things that I could cover from this motivational book, there is one more message I will use that really sums it all up. Give everyday your all and never quit on your dream or goal, because you just might be THREE FEET FROM GOLD.

Definitely give the book a read….And if you have any kind of goal or dream in mind, friggin go out tomorrow and start making it a reality.  Nothing can stop you but yourself.

 

 

Nutritional Compliance Part 2

Here is the second part to a previous article written by Dan Zwirlein. Whatever your goals may be, proper nutrition is huge.  If you didn’t already read the first part, check it out with the link below.  Take it away Dan!
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In the first compliance article, I talked about why people have trouble seeing results from their prospective fitness programs. In review, this usually stems from what they are doing outside of the gym rather than inside the gym, and it has to do with their compliance/adherence to a nutritional plan. In this article, I want to expand on this idea and give more thoughts/tips on how to develop a more disciplined nutrition plan for better body composition.


A common question is “so then what do I eat?”, “what is healthy eating?” “what is considered clean eating?”. This is a hot topic in the nutrition today: what really is clean eating or what is healthy? Honestly, I don’t think there is an accurate description of what clean eating is and if you asked someone to give you a formal definition, I don’t think they could. That’s one of the major flaws with the clean eating concept: it means something different to everyone. There was a very good article just written about this topic and I suggest everyone checks it out. You can find it here. Basically, the article debunks the notion of “clean” eating; meaning there aren’t actually groups of clean and dirty foods respectively. For example, the body doesn’t have different processes for digesting, utilizing, and storing nutrients from so called clean foods vs. dirty foods; i.e., fat from cookies isn’t digested and stored differently than fat from avocado. Your body doesn’t know the difference between the macro nutrients it receives from these different foods. Obviously, there is a difference between the complete nutritional profile of a cookie and a vegetable, and you shouldn’t use this as an excuse to eat as much cookies and ice cream as you want even though it still fits your macro nutrient profile.


So what can we do with this information to make educated decisions about our nutrition? It doesn’t really change anything but the mindset, meaning you still should concentrate on eating nutrient dense foods a majority of the time. The 90% rule still applies but now your outlook on those supposed cheat meals is different. There is nothing unhealthy with enjoying a treat for 10% of your meals IF it is planned properly and accounted for in your total caloric intake. This way you don’t have to worry about it completely derailing your progress. Keep in mind though that something that is “unhealthy” might be “healthy” for someone else based on their goals or medical condition. Its all about the right context. HOWEVER, once again we are talking about 10% of your meals, which still means only about once a week. The biggest point I want to make is that your focus shouldn’t be on the 10% of meals, it should be on the 90%. The other thing I want to emphasize is the fact that these are planned single meals and snacks that must fit within your weekly caloric intake, not all day binges that some suggest.


The 90% meals should be a combination of protein, fat, and carbs in ratios that help you reach your goals. For weight loss, that means about a gram of protein for every lb of your targeted body weight. (The same is true if you are trying to put on muscle) So if you weigh 200 lbs but you want to weigh 185 lbs you would consume about 185 grams of protein. Fat intake would be up to half of your protein intake and carbs will vary based on your goals and activity level. For example, someone trying to put on muscle mass or an athlete will need more carbohydrates in their diet than the average person looking for weight loss. These are all estimates and can be adjusted as needed; they are just a good basic guideline to start with.


The sources of your protein, fat, and carbs for the 90% of your meals should be your main focus. Whole food sources including quality meats, eggs, fruits, vegetables and certain healthy starches and grains (depending on the goal at hand). A good rule of thumb is if it didn’t grow, run, fly, or swim then don’t eat it. For most people starting out, this is a challenge just in itself. Changing 90% of their meals to some combination of these foods will be enough to make a large difference. This is why in the previous article I talked about making small progressive changes that can lead to long term habitual change. I want to make another point clear however: calories DO matter. This means that besides quality, the QUANTITY of food still needs to be monitored. It doesn’t matter if you only eat things that I just mentioned, if you still eat too much you will not burn as much fat or lose as much weight, if at all.


What a typical meal should look like:

About a palm size portion of protein of your choice ( Grass fed Beef, Eggs, Chicken Breast, Pork, Salmon, etc., some type of vegetable, and a starch like a potato/sweet potato or some oats in equal portions. You should get your fats from the meat sources, eggs, avocados, and cook with things like grass fed butter, olive oil, or coconut oil.


This article is supposed to be about compliance right? So now lets talk about more ways to help with compliance within the framework of ideas I’ve been talking about. I think the best way to stay compliant within your 90% meals is to have a plan of attack and stick to the plan as much as you can. One of the best ways to stick to a nutritional plan is to limit your choices. Find a few meals that you like, are easy to make, and fit within the framework of your macro nutrient intake (carb, protein, and fats) and stick to them. There will always be ways to spice things up later or add more choices in. Limiting your choices early on helps you take the guessing work out of preparing food and inherently keeps you more disciplined because you only have a couple of meals to choose from. This also forces you to develop good habits. If you eat just about the same things everyday you can form a routine around these meals.


Preparing of multiple meals is also a great way to increase nutritional compliance. If you prepare all your meals ahead of time it keeps you on a plan, and like limiting your choices, you are forced to stay on your plan because the food is already prepared. A big barrier for a lot of people to stay compliant is meal preparation. There is work involved in preparation of meals, and when people are short on time or they just don’t feel like cooking, they look for something quick and easy. What types of foods are usually quick and easy to make? Not usually things that fall into the grow, run, fly, or swim category.


Decrease the amount of times you are eating out. This goes hand in hand with preparing meals ahead of time, which will limit the need for eating out as much. Lets face it, as I already mentioned, most people don’t enjoy meal prep so going out to eat or ordering something is an easy cop out; however, once you decide to go out your chances of sticking to a plan diminish quite a bit, because you really are no longer in complete control of what you are eating. It is easy to get off track when there are so many restaurant and menu choices out there. Not to mention, now you really are not in control of the portion sizes or what exactly is being used to cook the meal. By limiting the times you are out, you avoid temptation, stay on track, and best of all save money.


Limit alcohol consumption. This might be the biggest nutritional hurdle for a lot of people. They don’t realize how many extra calories they are consuming just from alcohol alone. For some it means getting rid of half a day’s worth or even a full days worth of meals in calories each week just by dropping alcohol consumption down! I am not saying to never drink alcohol, but it should be limited to a couple drinks a week or special occasions.


Drink Super Shakes. Even If you prepare all your meals ahead of time there will still be those situations where you need some nutrition in a pinch. Having a few go to super shakes that are quick and easy to make are a good way to stay on track and satiated until you have time to eat more whole foods. But remember, you shouldn’t just live off of shakes, it is necessary to eat whole food as much as you can.


Find out what a super shake includes here.


If all else fails try preparing all your meals from a lean eating cook book. There are many good options out there these days but I would recommend:


Gourmet Nutrition


Practical Paleo (Disclaimer: You would need to add in more carbs when using this one.)


4 hour chef ( Disclaimer: This is more than a cook book but a very interesting read.)



With this information in hand I don’t think anyone should have a problem making some healthier choices, especially if you take the time to make a plan and follow through with it. Using just some of the tips I’ve outlined in these two articles should give you everything you need to be successful. The key is actually making the time not taking the time. You make time for things that are important to you and what’s more important than your health?


Dat Dere IT Band Thing?

“Yea I have IT band issues when I run.”  “I have IT band syndrome.”  “You should foam roll your IT band like every day man!” “IT banditis sucks!”  “How do I like work my IT band so it gets better?”  I hear and see crazy thoughts and ideas on this structure all of the time.  IT Band issues and foam rolling the IT Band are pretty commonly tossed around topics nowadays. There are many misconceptions out there about what goes on with this band of tissue when there are problems and how “rolling it” actually affects it.

First, lets briefly look at what this band is. The Iliotibial band is a dense band of tissue that runs from the top of the iliac crest down to the tibial tubercle below the knee (just look at the name: ilium to tibia). The superior fibers of the glute max, the glute medius and the tensor fascia latae (tfl) all insert into this band and control the tension that is in the band. The band then runs down to the tibial tubercle while covering the majority of the vastus lateralis, the most lateral quad muscle. It functions to provide stability to the lateral portion of the pelvis, thigh and patella (it provides support so our patella doesn’t fly sideways when we step). Every time we take a step, whether walking, running or whatever it is you like to do, these abductor muscles just mentioned, along with the rest of the band, provide support to the pelvis to prevent adduction and pelvic tilt. With any imbalances or movement dysfunction with gait, problems are likely to occur with this whole lateral region. We can go all the way up into the obliques and higher or lower if we want to get real in depth. This lateral hip and thigh is part of a lateral line of fascia that travels the length of the body from head to toe.  For the purposes of this article, we shall stick with this particular region.

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So, we have an idea of what this lovely structure does. Now, what happens when someone has problems with “stiffness” or pain in this region. There are a few different scenarios that are possible here.

      1. TFL or glute are angry: actually overactive, stiff or a combination of the two due to overuse, movement dysfunction or a certain prolonged posture, etc. When this is the case, they will tense up the band (especially tfl, just look at the name: tensor fascia lata) and the band will pull all the way down to the lateral knee. Hello knee pain! In this case, some tissue work will usually help to release them and in turn, the band tension. If a synergist or antagonist to these muscles is not firing properly or is weak, that will need to be taken care of as well or you will keep returning to square one.     Some examples: Glute med may be weak so tfl is overactive; even though they both have attachments to the band, the tfl would tense up the band when overactive, especially the anterior portion. The opposite adductors may be weak or inhibited, so our abductors on this side are overactive (ab and adductors work together to stabilize the pelvis in single leg stance). Looking lower down the lateral line, the peroneals (muscles on the lateral lower leg) may be misfiring or weak, causing the part of the lateral line in discussion to be overactive.  Rib position, oblique function, breathing and multiple other things will need to be evaluated as well as they can all have effects.  These are just a few examples to look at.  Bottom line here: Some tissue work is usually beneficial here.
      2. TFL or glute and/or the entire band are out of normal resting position due to pelvic rotation, tilt or shift. When this is the case, the pelvis needs to be returned to neutral in order to get things back to normal. While tissue work on these muscles may help in certain cases, its not always the case. For example, if the left side of the pelvis is tilted inferiorly, the right side will be tilted superiorly and the entire right lateral hip and thigh will be on stretch. It may feel “tight” or painful because of the constant stress that is there. In this case, you have to get that pelvis back to neutral to clean things up (which ironically might involve working on the left lateral side)  This is going to require specific stability and control exercises to make things right. Rollling or stretching this side already being pulled would make things worse.
      3. With any of these scenarios, the vastus lateralis and IT band can get caught on each other and the IT can compress the lateralis muscle. When these tissues are healthy, they should be able to slide freely and move independently of one another. In this case, some foam rolling (or hands on work is even better) along this lateral region can be beneficial. The difference is, we are focusing on hitting the vastus lateralis and getting it to move relatively to the IT band and just to relax in general. Instead of just blindly “rolling the IT band,” we are focusing on affecting this specific muscle and its relative motion with the band.
      4. If something such as running gait or squat technique is faulty, then that will need to be cleaned up to prevent issues from coming back.  You can work on this tissue until the cows come home but if you keep returning to your faulty movement patterns, your problems will surely return.  Shift to one side when you squat?  Try some single leg and offset work to fix your movement there.  Favor one side and have pelvic instability when you run?  Get stronger, develop some stability, learn some better running technique then come back to running.
    When it comes down to it, there are various culprits that can cause issues in this region.  I go through information and some basic rolling techniques in the following video.
Hope this give you guys some good insight and can help out with some problems you may have!

Shopping for a Fitness Professional

nick coach    (Repost from July 2013)

I am currently on a trip in Chicago to partake in my third Active Release Techniques course. This evening, I got a workout in at the hotel fitness center. While there, I observed as a “trainer” watched his client perform multiple exercises with terrible form or just useless exercises in general. He simply stood there with his arms crossed and did absolutely NOTHING the entire time. Not one bit or hint of coaching to speak of. Call me crazy but paying someone to stand there and stare at you is kind of a waste of money. I don’t know if he was a hotel trainer or traveled with the client, or whatever. Whatever it was, it inspired me to write this article.  As you probably already know, I take a lot of pride and have a lot of passion for what I do.  The fact that there are tons of unqualified “fitness professionals” out there taking uneducated people’s money and time really bothers me.  I like to educate people so here’s what I’m going to do with this article.  Here are some of the most important things someone should look for when they are hiring a fitness or strength and conditioning professional.  (Notice I didn’t say personal trainer or trainer as I think those terms absolutely suck and do not begin to do a truly legit professional in this field justice)  As I sit here next to my 18th floor hotel window looking over Chicago, I shall enlighten you. While this is definitely not an exhaustive list, I think it should give out some pretty important points.

1. They need a good education and need to know the bodyA degree in exercise science or something related is ideal along with plenty of constant continuing education and personal learning. That being said, there are coaches out there who have other degrees but are still very highly educated with the body and its movement/performance. When it comes down to it, a deep education in anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and the science behind strength and conditioning is essential. Programming and coaching training modalities without knowing the science behind it is unacceptable and ineffective. Plain and simple, you can’t write a program or prescribe exercises without understanding how they are affecting the body.  Thats like putting random liquid into your gas tank or engine without knowing what it is or how its going to effect your car. Bottom line: Make sure whoever you hire knows the body. In this profession, we deal with client’s bodies more frequently and more in depth than probably any other health profession out there, yet the requirements that there are to train people are pretty much nonexistent. Its up to you to make sure you hire someone who is educated.

2. They need to practice what they preachh. While an academic and scientific education is very important, if you haven’t spent years in the trenches learning under a bar, you are still going to suck training people and you probably have no business training people.  The best professionals have a good blend of both academic knowledge and in the trenches experience. Bottom line: You gotta have both.

3. They should do a thorough screen and assessment If you work with someone and they just start giving you random workouts right off the bat without evaluating your specific needs and limitations, then run for the hills.  There is no way to know what someone needs to be doing with a program without an assessment.  A good assessment is essential when it comes to developing a proper, individualized program to optimize goals being reached and injuries being prevented.  The assessment might look at movement dysfunction (or lack thereof), muscle imbalances, appropriate performance tests, bodyfat, blood pressure, heart rate, posture/bodycomp photos and anything else deemed necessary for the client.  These things obviously will vary depending on who you are talking about but the bottom line is that they should have some form of assessment to get you started.

4. They should design professional and rationalized programs.  If your trainer simply picks random things for you to do each  day, run for the hills.  A properly designed, planned out program based on specific needs and progressions should always be a part of your training.  Random training gets random results.  Any good professional should be able to design great programs.  If you don’t even have one, then you are throwing money away.  A good program should include appropriate soft tissue and mobility drills, appropriate strength training, appropriate conditioning/energy systems training and should address fundamental movement patterns (i.e. if you are spending an hour sitting on machines, stop wasting  your time; though there are some that have their place for certain goals).  If you don’t have a good program, move on.

5. They should be engaged during all of your training.  They should be analyzing movement, coaching you and teaching you how to move and perform exercises correctly. They should be able to explain the why behind everything that you do.   I  take pride in the fact that most of my clients could probably walk into any average gym and straight up school most of the trainers there.  Every client that walks through our doors gets educated every time they come in.  Ask them about why you are doing what you are doing.  If they can’t tell you or don’t tell you to begin with, then get out now.  If your trainer just stands there and does nothing but count reps and shout “ALL YOU” then move on.

6. They should be able to progress and regress exercises on the spot.   If you are clearly struggling with something beyond the point of a little tweaking with coaching, then they should be able to regress to something more doable on the spot. If  something is extremely cakeish then they should be able to progress you appropriately on the spot.

7. They should be professional. In addition to all of these things listed, if your coach shows up with a tank top, shorts and  a backwards hat, they probably aren’t a true professional. Most of the top notch coaches that I work with dress professionally with a nice looking sports polo, professional athletic pants and a clean cut appearance.  Other professions dress as professionals, so should fitness pros.  Having an uplifting, professional attitude is also essential.  Changing mindsets is half the battle of training.  They should have a positive mindset that you want to mirror.

In conclusion, if you are going to invest your time and money into improving your body and life, make sure you are doing it with someone who is truly qualified. You wouldn’t take your car to a mechanic who doesn’t understand how an engine works. You definitely shouldn’t take your body to someone who doesn’t know how it works. Hopefully this can help you make some good decisions with your body and training.

Timed Reps for Fresh Results

Most people look at setting up training one main way: sets x reps.  This is great and works well; however, there are other ways to increase strength and work capacity.  One great way is timed reps.  You can find awesome information on this method in older russian books such as Explosive Power and Jump Training for All Sports by Starzinski and Sozanski.  Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell has also talked about its effectiveness.  With timed reps, you try to complete as many reps as possible of a given exercise or pairing of exercises in the alotted amount of time.  As an example, if you are doing it with front squats: pick a weight you could do 15 reps with and do sets of 10; resting for about 10-20 seconds as you need to, for 5 minutes.  If you did a 3 week cycle with this; you should aim to get at least 20 more total reps in that 5 minute window by the end of the third week.  You can do 2 to 3 rounds of 5 minutes for a few big bang exercises. This can be done with squats, presses, rows, pullups or any compound exercise (not as big of a fan with deadlifts because risk to reward ratio gets worse as fatigue sets in though romanian deadlifts can work ok). 

Another great way to do this is with a good superset pairing.  In the video below, you will see Joy completing her second round of 5 minutes with barbell hip thrusts and chest supported rows.  She completes 8-10 reps for one exercise followed by reps of the other exercises and goes back and forth nonstop.  She did 2 rounds of 5 minutes of bench press and front squat before this pairing.  Next week she will try to get one more “set” during the 5 minutes and beat her total reps.  If your total reps go up, your work capacity, strength, and conditioning will go up; they have no choice.  Once she completes her round here, she jumps into assistance exercises for her scapulae, cuff, abs, arms, etc.   Timed reps provides an awesome metabolic effect, sets up a fat burning hormonal environment and will get you in shape, plain and simple.  It can be a nice change up if you are coming off of a high intensity/heavy cycle of lifting or if you just need to provide your body with a new challenge to adapt to. 

Her  Day One workout looked like this. 

1a) Front Squat 2x5minutes
1b) Bench Press 2x5minutes
2minutes rest between rounds

2a) Barbell Hip Thrust 2x5minutes
2b) Chest Supported Row 2x5minutes
2minutes rest between rounds

3) Waiters Carry w/ kettlebells 2x20yards
4) Face Pulls 2×8
5) Db Curls/Db Extensions 3×8-10

Her Day Two workout features different exercises and she alternates between the two days for a 4 week cycle.

There you have it: A killer workout with good anatomical balance and killer results.  Give timed a reps a shot and reap the rewards.

Earn Your Life Back

Today we have a combined article from Dan and Nick:

 
                                                                      
The state of the fitness industry is a complete mess. There are self proclaimed “experts” everywhere arguing that their method is God’s gift to fitness. Everywhere you turn there is someone under qualified trying to hand out advice: on tv, at the store, and probably a close friend. Even if you escape the noise from all of the fitness “genuises,” there is no way to get away from the bombardment of overpriced supplements, fad diets, and one month gym memberships being sold as a solution to lose those stubborn extra 50 to 100 lbs. that have accumulated for many YEARS.


But is it fair to completely blame the fitness industry, or should the consumer, who continuously pays for bad advice and subpar products, take part of the blame? Enter the hard work paradox. The hard work paradox is a simple concept. People display hard work and consistency in most areas of their life yet they don’t apply the same principles to their health and fitness. So, how does this add to the “fitness industry” problem? People want to believe that results are achieved by some other fashion than hard work, consistency, and a well thought out plan. What does this do? It creates a positive feedback loop for the industry to just keep pumping out garbage to people who want to believe results are achieved by quick means and a secret pill. The question is where else in life does this work? (Crickets) So it seems foolish to keep believing in this system where resolutions are made and never kept by the client, and results are promised quickly by the fitness professional but never achieved.


So where does this leave us? Does this mean its an industry problem or does the blame fall solely on the effort of the client? The short answer is, the blame falls on both; the fitness professional and the client. The client should understand that results happen when they work hard, are consistent in their training, and they adhere to what the fitness professional is telling them to do in and probably more importantly outside of the gym. The fitness professional should have the proper knowledge and training to help the client reach realistic goals they wish to achieve. This should be done with well thought out plans which have very specific individual considerations. They should have the integrity to explain how results are achieved and not over promise on their programs. These are the bare minimum circumstances needed for the client and fitness professional to have a successful relationship and probably a gross oversimplification of what is really needed.

Now you are probably asking where can I find a fitness professional that I can trust, has the skills to get me to my goals, and has lots of prior experience getting people real world results? Well, I truly believe that here at Rosencutter Ultra Fitness we can provide everything that people need to be successful in reaching their fitness goals. (This includes everything mentioned in the previous paragraph) We have helped hundreds of clients from all different backgrounds do everything from becoming the Greater Metro Baseball Player of Year to dropping double digit levels of bodyfat to getting rid of pain that has plagued them for years.

So why am I telling you all this? I want to let you know about a couple of opportunities coming up that can help change your health, performance and life this summer. I want you to stop wasting your time and hard work with unqualified “trainers” and programs that don’t get results. Lastly, I want to let you know how you could push yourself to win $1000!

Enter the Rosencutter Ultra Fitness Transformation Contest. How does it work? We develop strength training and conditioning with a properly designed, balanced out program that is intense enough to give your body the stimulus it needs to change, along with sound nutrition to help facilitate the changes that your training wants your body to make. All of this is done at an individual level to make sure you are getting exactly what you need to see significant changes in your body.


The question is if everything you need is in front of you, and all you need to do is put the work in and follow through will you do it? If you had the RIGHT guidance and help, do you think you could make some amazing changes to your body, mind and life? If you’ve been desiring to make a change in your body and your life, this is the perfect time to do it. Beginning in June, our 2013 Summer Transformation Contest will begin. With a grand prize of $1000, a second prize of a free month of training and a third prize of 2 free manual therapy treatments, you will have more motivation than ever. While these prizes are all great, the real grand prize will be a new and improved you along with a more positive and more productive life.


In addition to our Transformation Contest, we are launching the Rosencutter Boot Camp. Why? While our core offering of completely individualized semi private training is the most optimal investment that you can make in your body and self, we realize that some people want some quicker express workouts that they can drop in on at a more affordable price. With our classes, you can get an amazing group based workout while still learning how to move efficiently and effectively and balance out your body.


How is this boot camp going to be different? How are we going to provide the best boot camp experience?Classes will feature expert coaching incorporating strength training and conditioning based on professionally planned out blocks of training with development of specific energy systems and strength qualities. In other words, instead of just doing a bunch of random exercises each week and day, the exercises, the intensities, the workloads, the rest periods and everything within the class will be specifically planned out. You will not find another group based class around that does something like this. All clients that come to our boot camp will be exposed to effective coaching from true professionals with real credentials. Everyone’s movement will be assessed to ensure proper technique and to maximize results. All training sessions and workouts will be part of pre-planned, thought out blocks of training with specific purposes NOT just a bunch of exercises thrown together last minute. We will also provide nutritional support and guidelines.

At Rosencutter Ultra Fitness we truly have a family atmosphere where everyone pushes each other to get better. So whether you choose to do the Transformation Contest. join our camp or get started with your own in depth assessment and individualized program, we would love you to come join our family this summer and above all help you change your life. All you need to do is get here and put in the work.


5 Ways to Increase Compliance for Fat Loss

Today we have a blog post by Rosencutter Ultra Fitness coach Dan Zwirlein on increasing compliance with a fat loss nutrition program.  Take it away Dan…….


                                            5 Ways to Increase Compliance For Fat Loss


The story usually sounds the same. A person becomes dedicated to training, they start to see good results and then what happens? They stall. Think about it, if you are consistent with your training then what could be holding you back? No, its not what you are doing in the gym; its what you are doing outside the gym that is killing your progress. For most people, this has to do with dietary choices and ultimately, lifestyle choices. Think about it. You spend probably around 3 hours of the week total at the gym putting in your sweat equity. So its only logical to think that the other 165 hours outside the gym is what is haulting your progress. It takes full dedication and consistency to reach your true potential and it is no different for reaching your fitness goals. Here are 5 ways to increase your compliance with proper lifestyle choices for the majority of the time that you aren’t spending in the gym.


1. Adhere to the 90% rule when practicing clean eating

Here is how the 90% rule works. Think about how many meals a week you are eating. At least 90% of those meals should be clean. So if you eat 5 times a day for all 7 days that would be 35 meals a week. Using simple math, you can see that you could have about 3 snacks that aren’t clean for the week. Now, that doesn’t mean your snack turns into a meal either; remember, one meal won’t effect much but getting into long term bad habits does.

2. Take pictures of all your meals

Before you eat anything take a picture of it. This will force you to think hard about whether or not this meal is getting you closer or farther away from your goal. It will be much harder to “cheat” if you consciously have to look at and think about what you are eating.

3. Practice your compliance as a group

There is nothing more powerful in helping to reach a goal then people who believe in you and support your goal. To make this work for your fitness goals, have someone practice clean eating and an overall healthy lifestyle with you. They say you posses the average traits of the 5 people you spend the most time with so why not a loved one? It doesn’t really matter who it is but human psychology dictates that practicing things in a group is easier than alone. So find someone to keep you on track and compliant while you do the same for them.

4. Keep temptation out of your house

One way to get side tracked is to buy things that will derail your progress. If you have things in your house like sweets, soda, and alcohol or what ever your vice is, its only a matter of time before you will break into them. However, if you don’t buy them, the temptation won’t be there. If you want a treat and it falls within your 10% meal, buy in a single serving. For example, buy one ice cream cone versus a pint. Remember, if there are things in your house now its better to just throw them away and get rid of temptation.

5. Make things really easy on yourself

Overhauling your lifestyle can be very difficult, especially if you are taking on new things all at once like trying to practice clean eating and starting a new training regimen. So make your goals small and as easy as possible. For example, your goal could be to lower your daily soda intake from 5 to 3 or it could be increase the amount of sleep you are getting by 30 min each week. Making goals that you can actually achieve creates positive momentum which is important to keep progressing forward. A lot of times people will try to change everything at once and after a month they stall and return to old habits. By making small goals that are attainable and progressing slowly it allows behavioral patterns to actually change, which in turn increases long-term compliance. Think about it. If you make small changes from week to week or month to month, those small changes then turn into big changes over long periods of time IF you stay compliant. By making goals easy it will make compliance more likely.


Now, go and try to implement as many of these tips into your daily routine as you can. But remember, like I mentioned in the last tip, start slow and see your progress increase. The ultimate goal is long lasting change.

Want help with this and getting your training set to get in the best shape of your life?  Come join our transformation challenge and summer RufCamp classes and get started with a chance to win $1000.

Transform Your Body This Summer

Transforming your body is not as hard as many think it is; at least from the standpoint of figuring out what needs to be done to make the transformation. Does it take a lot of work? Yes. Does it take discipline? Yes. But is it hard to figure out how to do it? Without professional help, it can be because of all of the misinformation out there. With the right help, its as easy as following the gameplan that is put in front of you.Strength training and conditioning with a properly designed, balanced out program that is intense enough to give your body the stimulus it needs to change, along with sound nutrition to help facilitate the changes that your training wants your body to make is exactly what is needed. If you have it all in front of you, all you need to do is put the work in and follow through. If you had this kind of guidance and help, could you make some amazing changes to your body, mind and life? What if you had the chance to win $1000 while doing it?Well, this summer you can have this chance and you can have the guidance you need to transform your body and life. Research is clear: when you make positive changes in your body and you get stronger, leaner or more muscular, and get rid of aches and pains, it has positive effects on every other aspect of your life: Your confidence, your relationships, your sex drive, your work performance and your daily motivation to live life to the fullest.

So if you’ve been desiring to make a change in your body and your life, this is the perfect time to do it. Beginning in June, our 2013 Summer Transformation Contest will begin. With a grand prize of $1000, a second prize of a free month of training and a third prize of 2 free manual therapy treatments, you will have more motivation than ever. While these prizes are all great, the real grand prize will be a new and improved you along with a more positive and more productive life. So contact us today and come do it!  Don’t believe its possible? You could make a transformation like this!  And this did not come with the added motivation of a $1000 prize!  Check out some others on our testimonials page and search our blog for even more! Take the jump and change your life!

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Exercises to Improve Your Running

Single leg stability and control, the ability to resist pelvic and rib rotation and strong and solid hip flexion are 3 very important components of an effective runner. They are also 3 very commonly missed components when it comes to a strength program for runners. Here are a couple of great exercises you can throw in to help your running performance.

2 to 3 sets of 8-15 reps towards the end of a workout work good for these depending on what you are trying to do.
Maintain good shoulder posture, stay tall and keep the down hip extended as you flex the working hip. Control the lowering. The angle and range of motion can be changed to be more specific for a sprinter versus a marathon runner, etc. with a sprinter having a much higher degree of flexion than a distance runner. 
2-3 sets of 5-8 reps towards the end of a workout work well with these. Grip the floor with your foot/pull your arch up, get tall, hold the handle straight in front of you for a 3-5 count and repeat. Be sure to get a good breath in through the nose before pushing out to get good stability from the diaphragm. Exhale through the mouth between reps.  Everything from the shoulders and ribs down to the foot should engage to help keep you stable.  These also work great to clean up any difference in abilities side to side. If you haven’t done double leg, half kneeling or tall kneeling holds, definitely do them first and work your way up.

These exercises actually work well for many sports, since most sports involve running and single leg components.