Month: May 2013

Live it up!

What is holding you back from achieving your goals? What keeps you from making the life changes you want to make? Here are a few things that may come to mind:

  1. I’m scared. I don’t want to be the new kid in class, I don’t want to try out a new workout, what if it’s too hard and I’m not able to finish it? Don’t be scared, how you will ever know what you are made of if you don’t try. You may not always be the best, you may look silly, it may make you feel like you are going to die, you may want to curl up in a ball and sleep for the next 10 days, but how in the world will you ever know if you can do it if you don’t at least give it a shot. Leave fear at the door and give that class/trainer/machine/piece of equipment a shot and embrace the fact that this is the first day, it will only get easier from here on out!
  2. Complacency. You come in, you get the same locker, you put on your favorite socks, you warm up on the same machine while you read the same newspaper, and then you do the same workout you’ve been doing for the past 8 years. Why? Why not push yourself and see what you can teach your body. When was the last time you changed up your workout, maybe not even completely? Maybe all you did was change how many sets of something you did or you added in an extra sprint. When was the last time you tried something new or decided to lift heavier? Why do the same old thing? If it hasn’t shown you improvement in the last 2 years why do you think it might tomorrow?
  3. I just don’t know how. You aren’t exactly supposed to so don’t feel bad about that. There are a few simple solutions, the first, hire a trainer. You don’t need to see a trainer every day for the next year to learn something. In one session, maybe even in just 40 minutes you can gain knowledge that will completely change how you exercise and show you more benefits than you’ve seen in years. Who knows, you might see such value that you sign up for more than just one session! You can always workout with some one else or join a program and really get yourself motivated and find the fun in working out!
  4. I don’t have enough time. If you think you need an hour or two to get a good workout in boy do I have news for you! In a whopping 10 minutes you can get a full body full cardio workout in. It’s not going to be a fun 10 minutes but it will be the most effective 10 minutes you’ve ever worked out! My point is, don’t say to yourself “Well I only have 30 minutes today, I guess I’ll skip it because there’s just not enough time.” There are plenty of ways to get a good workout in even if you only have a short amount of time. Think, keep moving, sprints, high intensity, full body, and jump!

Don’t let any of these things hold you back. You should walk out of the gym feeling proud of yourself, feeling like you’ve really accomplished something. If you aren’t currently feeling that way you are missing out. You should be satisfied with what you’ve done and maybe even so excited that you can’t wait to tell your co-workers/spouse/kids/friends, etc about what a rock star you are! If you need help moving forward and learning new skills contact one of our amazing personal trainers!

Swimming Circuit

Below is one of my favorite exercises in the pool because it is quick paced, but has a lot of variation in stroke. The individual medley was one of my favorite and best races; therefore I still like to practice all of my strokes when climbing in the pool for a workout. Freestyle is the most commonly used stroke, which is why I chose it as an individual set as well. It is important to practice the different components of a stroke, so adding kicks, pulls, and paddles into a workout is a huge advantage.

Warm up: 200 Freestyle

Exercise:
Set one:

  • 80 Kick
  • 100 Paddle
  • 140 Pull
  • 180 swim
  • X3 (rest for 60 seconds between each set)

Set two:

  • 40 Fly
  • 40 Back
  • 40 Breast-stroke
  • 40 Free
  • X3 (rest for 45 seconds between each set, 15 seconds between each stroke)

Cool Down: 200 Freestyle (easy)

Try this swimming workout today and let me know how it goes. If you have any questions please contact swim instructor and personal fitness trainer Amber Gruger.

What do you think about this research article?

Many of my clients love to send me the most recent research released online, or from the New York Times, and ask me what my thoughts are on it. I am always trying to keep current with research about where the health and fitness field is going so I love to look at anything someone sends me. When I look at these research articles there are a couple of key things I look for in order to make sure that it is in fact something I would reference back to.

First I want to find the actual peer review scientific research article; not the summary that newspapers and magazines write about and reference to. This is important because anyone can take one part of the research’s results and omit the other results in order to write their own summary. An example of how magazines can miss express research is as follows: the research could state – a group of men that took testosterone for 12 months had significant increases in strength but also had significant increases in blood pressure, joint pain and aggression. The magazine could easily state that research suggests to take steroids for 12 months in order to increase your strength. They are only reporting on half of the findings to make it fit their own needs.

Once I find the actual research article I need to go to the methods section and see how powerful the study is. A powerful study is one that:

  • Has a larger n (number of participants which should be in the hundreds)
  • There is a control group or pre-experience data (every study needs a base to reference)
  • Is a double blind study (neither the researchers nor participants know if they are the control group or studied group)
  • The methods are sound, correct and using up to date procedures/equipment
    If the study only has 8 participants in a single blind study using equipment from the 70’s and doesn’t have a control group it probably shouldn’t be considered valid.

After you have found that the study is powerful take a look at the data and/or conclusion to see what they found. The data from a study can only be correlated or concluded with the test group. If we look at the example study from above about the men taking testosterone, researchers cannot say that steroids would increase the strength of females because they were not part of the subject group. The also cannot comment on the effects of Human Growth Hormone on males after 12 months because they tested testosterone. They can theorize about those two examples in the conclusion and this would set up future research ideas.

If you have any research that you want me to take a look at shoot me an email or bring it in and we can sit down and break it down to see if it is valid. One should always strive to increase their knowledge base, but with correct and current research.

A Deeper Look at Squash Movement Patterns

Squash is a dynamic sport that requires a certain level of strength, stability, and aerobic fitness. Several key movements are repeated while playing. The muscles being used are at risk of overuse, and there are many that are underused that should be trained as a key to prevention.

Lunging has to be the most common lower body motion performed in squash. The hip, knee and ankle dynamically stabilize in the down position of the lunge as you are swinging the racket. This leaves the ankle susceptible to rolling, the knee susceptible to torque, and if the hip complex is not stabilized correctly, it can also be susceptible to hamstring, lower back and sacral issues. The major muscles involved that can be overused are the glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, and fascia such as the Illiotibial band (IT band).

During a forehand swing, the shoulder, elbow and wrist stabilize dynamically when making contact with the ball. This leaves the shoulder susceptible to strains and tears, and the elbow and wrist prone to tendonitis. Muscles that can become overused are the internal rotators, deltoid (anterior/medial), bicep, and flexors. The same susceptibilities are present during a backhanded swing as well. The rhomboids, external rotators, deltoid (posterior/ medial), tricep, and extensors are prone to overuse.

Functional analysis during a game shows the posterior and anterior oblique fascial lines to be most active (insert fascia strengthening and stretching blog link). Core muscles and spinal stabilizers are areas to focus on for strength, symmetry on both sides of the body, and ensure proper flexibility and recovery. Strength program development would work on activating the underused muscles involved in pushing, pulling, squatting, balancing and more isolated corrective work for the hip and shoulder. You can work on stabilization in a multiplanar lunge with an overhead press or the same multiplanar lunge with an overhead hold; to create the correct lengthening in the body. When working on the strengthening aspects of the program try weighted squats, chest press, and rows. During power with dynamic multiplanar movements remember to emphasize the lateral and transverse planes.

To prevent injury and perfect your game be sure to contact one of our squash instructors. For more specific squash program ideas or information on muscle imbalances please contact personal fitness trainer Amber Walz.

Genuine Movement Lunges

“Get under the ball!” Racquet sports athletes have probably heard this ad naseum from their coaches and with good reason. Getting low to receive and re-direct an incoming ball in squash or tennis allows you more control of your shot as well as help to control your momentum and change direction. Broken down to its essence, this movement is a lunge pattern. Yet when I screen beginning, intermediate and even advanced squash players I frequently see difficulty in getting into a lunge position as well as maintaining stability in a lunge. Test your self: Align your feet in a straight line with your feet about as far apart as the length of your foreleg. Lower down until your rear knee contacts the ground and your knees are both at 90 degrees. Return to the starting position. If you can’t get into the bottom position or if your chest is strongly leaning forward in the bottom position, you are immobile in this pattern. If you can get down to the bottom position but you lose your balance, you are unstable in this pattern. If either applies, your ability to stop, change direction, change elevation and bend to the ground are impaired for racquet sports, field/court sports and daily life. If you are immobile, go back and do the Genuine Movement Mobility Routine.

If you are unstable, don’t worry. The following exercises can help stabilize you and, with frequent practice, you will see a difference in your performance in 2-4 weeks.

½ Kneeling Cable Chops

  • Get in the ½ kneeling position: one knee down, opposite foot directly in front of the down knee
  • Use wooden dowel on cable machine
  • Chop across your body from high to low
  • Return to start by reversing the pattern
  • Don’t move hips, trunk or shoulders
  • 2 x 10

½ Kneeling 1 Arm Curl and Press

  • In ½ kneeling position, hold one DB in the hand on the opposite side of the front foot.
  • Curl and press DB while maintaining balance and position of hips and shoulders.

1 Arm Lunges

  • Stand with feet in a straight line
  • Hold DB in the opposite side of the front leg
  • Lower rear knee to floor to perform lunges with your feet in place
  • 2 x 10

1 Arm Lunges Overhead

  • Identical set up as 1 Arm Lunges but the weight is held overhead.
  • 2 x 10

Test yourself as you did previously to evaluate your improvement.

Practice these exercises about 2-3 times per week for 2-4 weeks and you should notice dramatic improvement in your lunge ability and your performance. If you don’t see an improvement, make sure to contact me to determine if another movement issue is preventing you from lunging. Please contact me at hspencer@sacdt.com for all your movement needs!

No time for long runs? Give HIT a try!

Once believed to be another workout gimmick, high-intensity interval training, or HIT, is gaining validity in the fitness community. The idea that short bursts of 80-90% maximum effort can produce comparable results to long traditional endurance training almost seems too good to be true. Believe it or not, HIT can help you train for endurance events without hours and hours of training.

High-intensity interval training can be performed with most exercises as long as proper form is maintained throughout. Individuals move through a series of exercises at near maximum effort for a short time frame (usually 20-30 seconds) with minimal rest between exercises. This forces the body to activate numerous energy systems that are usually associated with endurance training.

New research conducted by McMaster University and the University of Melbourne has confirmed that small bouts of intense exercise not only increases your metabolism but can actually increase the skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and endurance performance. This study validates the idea that HIT can be useful when training for long endurance races such as half or full marathons. Dr. Martin Gabala and Dr. Sean McGee found that HIT also alters the metabolic control during traditional aerobic-based exercise. Since these races usually require hours of long runs, which forces the body to endure more stress, the idea of HIT is appealing to most endurance athletes or those aspiring to become one. Before you go crazy remember that those long runs provide more than endurance of the muscles of the body. Long runs prepare your mind to deal with doing the same physical movement for hours on end. The study, however, suggests possibly limiting the number of long runs by supplementing a few with HIT. After only four sessions of HIT, results showed increases in the mitochondrial enzymes which assist with traditional endurance exercises. After six weeks of training, the gains were significant.

This is also useful information for the general population! The number one excuse for not exercises is lack of time! Kick that excuse to the curb, hit the pavement and sprint!

Give this HIT workout a try!
*Perform each exercise for 30seconds with 30seconds of recovery in between each.

  • Burpee
  • Jumps from one leg to the other side to side (Skater Jumps)
  • Squat with a Shoulder Press (grab a medium/comfortable weight)
  • Plank on your hands with a Mountain Climber (knee to opposite elbow)
  • Plank on your forearms with an arm reach (don’t let your hips rock as you reach)

Repeat X3

Metabolic Adaptations to Short-term High-Intensity Interval Training

Your guide to adventure in the Pacific Northwest!

Do you have friends or relatives coming to stay with you during this amazing Seattle summer? We all love having company and having the chance to show them a little piece of your city. But what do you do after you take them to Pike’s Place Market and to the Fremont troll? Let the Seattle Athletic Club’s Outdoor Recreation Department take some of the pressure off your shoulders! Maybe you are looking for a short, quick hike that won’t kill your company from Florida who are use to walking on the beach, not mountains. Don’t do another bad hike!! We will give you a wide array of suggested hikes, based on your needs and fitness levels.

The Outdoor Rec Department has TONS of resources to help you plan the best adventure for you and the people with you! We can also recommend the best places to go to buy or rent the gear needed for your outing. Maybe you don’t have people visiting you but you are new to the area and want to go for a long bike ride: Outdoor Rec can provide you with some options as far as trails to take, mileage, and things to see along the way.

The Pacific Northwest has something for everyone! No more sitting around staring at each other while you wait for an idea to magically appear. Simply contact the Outdoor Recreation Coordinator Thomas Eagen through e-mail (teagen@sacdt.com) or on the Seattle Athletic Club Downtown Facebook page to start the planning process!! Get your loved ones off the couch and show them why we moved here in the first place!

Outdoor Adventure Possibilities:

  • Day hikes (examples: lakes, waterfalls, summits, mountain views, seclusion, wildflowers, etc.)
  • Backpacking trips (overnight camping or multi-day trips)
  • Mountain biking
  • Leisure bike rides
  • Endurance bike rides
  • Rock climbing
  • Walking tours
  • Kayaking
  • Open water swimming
  • Geocaching

Skip the Ride the Ducks tour and the 1st established Starbucks and see Seattle a completely different way!

How to become a runner

Whether you are preparing for a 5K, a half marathon, or the Army Physical Fitness Test, the road to improving your cardiovascular performance is relatively straightforward. There are many aspects of cardiovascular training that are often ignored and/or overlooked, but with the right approach you can avoid injury and become the runner that you always hoped to (or never thought you could) be.

The mental aspect of running can be the most challenging hurdle to overcome. Despite what you may have heard, the human body is built to run. Yes, this includes yours. It may feel like your body is not well prepared for running, and admittedly some of us do have more of a mechanical advantage than others, however that said, with the exception of those with permanent disability we all have the potential to become very successful runners. Physically we are capable of much more than we give ourselves credit for, and when you begin to run your mind will play tricks on you. Your head will be filled with frequent suggestions to slow down, alarms telling you that you are breathing too hard, and a voice devilishly reminding you that you can always head back a little early. I have found that the best way to overcome your running-averse inner voice is distraction. Find something interesting to do and take your mind off of the desire to quit. Try listening to music or podcasts, finding a beautiful outdoor route and focusing on the scenery, or even counting breaths and steps to make the time pass more quickly. Anything to keep your mind off of the desire to quit!

Now that we have discussed the mental aspect of running, let’s take a look at the physical aspect. There is a lot to consider, so let’s discuss things from the ground up:

  • Foot strike. Your foot should land lightly and in a relatively neutral position when it strikes the ground. Avoid landing primarily on your heel or your toe. Also if you can hear your foot slapping against the ground you are wasting energy and causing undue wear and tear on your joints.
  • Leg stride. Avoid bounding, as it is also a waste of energy. Your goal should be to move completely rectilinearly, and to spend no energy traveling up away from the ground or absorbing the impact of a dramatic downward descent. Also try to take long, smooth strides. Lengthening your stride is a great way to improve the efficiency of your run as it will ultimately take fewer steps to arrive at your destination.
  • Hips. Positioning your hips can be pretty subtle, so you may need some help from a friend or the mirror. Running with dramatic posterior pelvic tilt (sticking your booty out) slows you down and can create hip and/or low back pain as you progress. Instead try and keep your hips directly underneath your shoulders by tilting them forward.
  • Core. Another subtle point, one for which the mirror will be of no assistance. The importance of maintaining a strong core cannot be understated, although it is often ignored because it can be difficult to explain. For runners, good core position begins from the deep support musculature near your spine. You can practice maintaining a tight core by standing, contracting your pelvic floor, imagining a rope connecting your hips and your neck and pulling it straight up (to engage your multifidi) while also pulling your belly button in toward your low back (to engage your transversus abdominus). This should feel markedly different from “flexing your abs”, and while it is a lot to think about it is worth the practice as it will pay dividends down the road.
  • Upper body posture. Keep your shoulders back as well as your shoulder blades seated to help lessen the intra-abdominal pressure on your lungs and make it easier for you to breathe.
  • Lungs. Breathing is obviously critical to successful cardiovascular performance, but let me assure you that you can relax. You have enough oxygen and you will never run out. In fact, we are swimming in more oxygen than one would ever need to facilitate a cardiovascular workout. The limiting factor regarding oxygen is our body’s ability to utilize it effectively, not a lack of supply. Maximizing oxygen utilization comes from training, not from rapid breathing. All of that said, it is important to maintain a relaxed, rhythmic breathing pattern. The side aches that plague us arise for a variety or reasons, the most common of which is arhythmic diaphragmatic contraction (chaotic breathing). Take slow, deep, and even breaths throughout your run.
  • Arm swing. Do not pump your arms. Pumping your arms is a critical aspect of rapid sprinting, but it will do little more than waste energy during a long run. Instead relax your elbows and wrists, and try to minimize their swing. Also take care to swing your arms in the sagittal plane (straight forward along your sides). Swinging your arms across your body lessens your ability to move rectilinearly and is inefficient.
  • Head position. Hold your head high, directly over your shoulders to avoid neck stress and assist with good torso posture. Look straight ahead, but below the horizon. This will help assist with your rhythmic breathing and keep you moving forward safely without distraction.

So now you know how to run! Time to discuss the finer points of program design. Let’s take a look at how to decide where to start and also how to manage your workouts.

Selecting your start point is a very important aspect of making a successful running program. While we are all built to run, that does not necessarily imply that you have the ability to tie your shoes and go for a five-mile run this very moment. If you run too much or too fast without giving your body time to adapt injury is inevitable. For some, the best way to start preparing your body to run may be to begin walking on a regular basis. For some others, you may be ready to run but not prepared to go very far or very fast. Start off by running no faster or farther than you can handle, and focus on making cardiovascular exercise part of your regular routine. Once you are running consistently (at least three times per week without fail) then begin to work on increasing the volume and intensity of your workouts, but not before.

We also need to discuss the three big variables to consider when planning your runs: intensity, duration, and distance. Intensity can be measured in a variety of ways, the most common of which is via heart rate. For textbook cardiovascular improvement you need to keep your heart rate elevated at a level of 65% to 85% of your maximum heart rate throughout your workout. Measuring your heart rate throughout your workout can be difficult, and as such likely requires a heart rate monitor. Since not everyone has access to the equipment required I will leave it at that. If you want more information about how to use your heart rate monitor or calculate your maximum heart rate please email me (dkrantz@sacdt.com). For the rest of us, intensity can be measured on the Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale and with some commonsense. Using the RPE scale of 0-10, where 0 is no standing still and 10 is sprinting for your life; you should be working out between the levels 6 and 8. You can also measure intensity by paying attention to your breathing. During your workout you should be breathing hard enough to prevent you from maintaining a conversation, but you should not feel like you cannot catch your breath.

Duration and distance are both ways to measure the volume of your workout, and you should incorporate training that focuses on each. Some of your runs should be all about distance (e.g. running two miles as fast as possible), and some should be all about duration (e.g. running for 60 minutes). Incorporating runs that approach volume from each perspective will help you see steady improvement and avoid boredom. One of the biggest mistakes runners make in training is to train at the same intensity all of the time. To see improvement in your running performance it is important to vary your workouts. For example, if you are running three times per week and you can comfortably run two miles, it would be appropriate to plan three different runs: one one-mile workout at an RPE of 8, one 2-mile workout at an RPE of 7, and one three-mile workout at an RPE of 6.

Once you are performing cardiovascular exercise regularly and you have a handle on how to approach the requisite intensity, distance, and duration of your runs, it is time to think about progression. Appropriate cardiovascular progression is approximately 10 percent per week. I recommend you round to the nearest tenth-mile for ease of execution.

It is important to differentiate between increasing your workouts via percentage of distance and increasing via an absolute amount of distance. Using the example of three runs per week from before, an example of 10% progression is illustrated in the table below.

To prevent overtraining and give your body time to adapt to new levels of volume it is most effective to increase your volume in an undulating fashion, illustrated in the table below.

Lastly, here are a few general tips that you may find useful along the way:

  • Pace yourself. While interval training can be an effective way to improve your speed, add variety to your workout, and break through those pesky plateaus, varying your speed during competition will burn you out during longer runs and ultimately reduce your performance. Instead try and set one brisk pace for your events – you will do much better.
  • Warm up. Always warm up before you run, especially before you compete! Conduct dynamic movements like lunges and deep knee bends, and jog around a bit. Never conduct static stretching prior to a run, it reduces the ability of your muscles to produce force and increases your propensity for injury by creating micro-tears in your muscle fibers.
  • Treadmill running. Treadmills are great tools, particularly when the weather is bad! However they create an artificially perfect running environment, which can be misleading. If you regularly train on the treadmill but conduct your test outdoors you may be disappointed with your performance. In order to mitigate the impact of the treadmill on your competition performance always run at a minimum of a 1% grade.
  • Supporting activities. Although improving your run is best accomplished by running, resistance training and flexibility work will help you avoid injury and dramatically improve your performance. Resistance training (e.g. lifting weights) helps keep your joints strong, promote muscular balance, and makes you a more efficient runner as lean body tissue takes less energy to move around. Flexibility work (e.g. static stretching, yoga) will help improve your active range of motion and in turn increase your stride length, also improving your efficiency.

With the aforementioned approach and some dedication coupled with hard work nearly anyone can call themselves a runner.

Resistance Training for Children

For years there has been a belief that resistance training was inappropriate or even dangerous for children. This belief stems from a study performed in the 1970’s by a group of Japanese researchers that observed juvenile workers that were subjected to many hours of lifting and moving heavy objects. On average these children were shorter than their non-working counterparts. Through this observation they concluded that it was the heavy lifting at such a young age that had a negative effect on their epiphyseal plate, and in turn, resulted in a stunted growth. However, recently there has been a growing amount of evidence that suggests that resistance training for children is not only safe, but can be highly beneficial.

Researchers from the Institute of Training Science and Sports Informatics published a study that analyzed 60 years worth of studies involving children and weightlifting. The researchers found that virtually all of the children and adolescents benefited from weight training. Interestingly enough, although the older kids did have greater strength gains, compared to the younger kids the difference wasn’t significant. This study also found that, contrary to popular belief, there was no sizable difference in strength increases once the children hit puberty. There was however a difference in hypertrophy (increase in muscle mass) that was likely due to the amount of testosterone in the adolescent population. Because of the lack of noticeable size gains in children, many researchers in the past had concluded that weightlifting wasn’t an effective training method for the youth.

So how young is too young to start resistance training? The jury is still out on this question, though most scientific literature seems to point to ages 6-8. Resistance training at this age should involve body weight exercises or very light loads with emphasis on control and form. Squats using a wooden dowel or push-ups are a common method of training children at this age. Heavy loads (without proper progression) or exercises that involve ballistic movements should be avoided when training children.

For more information on youth resistance training please contact Will Paton.

Shoulder Endurance Workout

This workout is designed to work your shoulder/back area with emphasis on muscle endurance. It’s a tough workout to perform without breaks; you should be challenging yourself to keep going with little to no rest. You will test every aspect of shoulder strength as well as your ability to maintain core stability. If you are looking to increase prolonged upper body strength (for climbing, swimming, rowing, pull ups etc.) this is the workout for you!

With two 10-15lb dumbbells perform each of the following exercises one time each for a total of the specified rounds:

  • 1 shoulder press right arm
  • 1 shoulder press left arm
  • 1 shoulder press both arms together
  • 1 upright row right arm
  • 1 upright row left arm
  • 1 upright row both arms together
  • 1 bent over rev. fly right arm
  • 1 bent over rev. fly left arm
  • 1 bent over rev. fly both arms

Repeat each round for a total of 6 times; then complete 10 ball slams, and Rest.
Repeat each round for a total of 5 times; then complete 10 ball slams, and Rest.
Repeat each round for a total of 4 times; then complete 10 ball slams, and Rest.
Repeat each round for a total of 3 times; then complete 10 ball slams, and Rest.
Repeat each round for a total of 2 times; then complete 10 ball slams, and Rest.
Repeat each round for a total of 1 time; then complete 10 ball slams, and DONE.

If you are interested in learning more about smart, efficient, and effective programming please contact Adriana Brown.