Tag: personal trainers

How Many Calories am I Burning…Really?

Calorie counting tools are becoming increasingly popular. They are available as part of many fitness apps, on heart rate monitors, and most commonly, they are attached to cardio machines that adorn our basement as well as the gyms we frequent. But, how accurate are they?

In two words: not very. Do not be completely disheartened, though, as there is more to the story.

The accuracy of your calorie counter is impacted in part by how much information you make available to it. The more info you provide, the more accurate the results will be. Data like height, weight, age, gender, and heart rate can all improve the accuracy of your calorie measuring tool of choice. If your elliptical does not ask you for the aforementioned data, or if you choose not to provide it, it will make some assumptions for you. The equations that these devices use vary somewhat depending on the manufacturer, but most use statistical averages (often based on a 150 pound young male). Therefore we recommend that you provide as much data as you can.

Unfortunately, even if you provide all the data your particular device asks for there will be some critical gaps that will impact its ability to accurately estimate your caloric expenditure. Metabolism is a very unique and individual thing; as such it is hard to estimate accurately. In addition to the variance caused by questions that are answered easily (age, gender, height, and weight), variables like body composition, the time and structure of your last meal, as well as even your stress level can have a dramatic impact on your metabolism.

Also it is worth mentioning that some companies have been known to intentionally provide positively-skewed data, assuming that the more calories you perceive to burn, the more you will enjoy (and recommend) their product… just something to consider.

Ultimately, you cannot really trust the calorie readings on your cardiovascular equipment. However that does not render the data is useless; rather it implies that you should be careful how you use the readout to make decisions. Since the estimates are largely inaccurate and vary from machine to machine, it is probably not a good idea to compare what you burn on the treadmill with what you burn on a stationary bike in order to decide which machine is more effective. The same goes for creating comparison between individuals – what a machine tells you and what it tells your friend may not be the same, and that says nothing about you or your friend’s level of fitness. Above all, do not estimate your weight loss expectations, or reward yourself with calorie-dense foods based on the readings provided by your calorie measurement device (not that using food or food-like substances as a reward is a good idea anyway).

What you can use these devices for is a measurement of relative intensity and/or performance. If you are using the same piece of cardiovascular equipment every time you work out, the calorie’s burned readout can help you compare your performance from day to day. This will allow you to set goals relative to your previous workouts, and can be a good way to push yourself to work longer and harder.

Above all, remember that cardiovascular exercise is aptly named, as it primarily impacts the function of your cardiovascular system. The road to body composition improvement rolls through the kitchen and the weight room. The low intensity, long duration work you put in on the elliptical is mainly for your heart, blood, blood vessels, and lungs. If you are headed to the treadmill with the idea of burning calories on your mind, you are missing the point.

Last Chance Workout

Maybe you’ve thought about hiring a personal trainer but after watching an hour of the Biggest Loser and seeing trainers perch on a treadmill and yell at people you’ve decided that’s not your cup of tea. Well in today’s blog we’ll discuss how personal training is much different than how you or the media may think of it.

  1. Our job is not to yell. Granted I love to yell at my clients (the ones that like to be yelled at, it’s all for fun people) in either a good natured way or a raised voice to get the fire lit under someone. However yelling like a drill sergeant is not what good training is about. We are teachers first and for most; yelling is not what gets things done and it’s not how people learn.
  2. Our job is not to make you workout so hard you want to scream mercy or die. Any monkey can make you sweat; any monkey can make you sore. A good training session has little to do with either of these things. Yes, you probably will sweat, and yes, you probably will be sore but that is not the goal. The goal is to teach you skills to better your health, to increase your fitness, and to keep you progressing. But it is never to work you out hard for the sake of being “a tough trainer.”
  3. Not everyone trains the same. Maybe you see a trainer with a client and holy cow does their workout look hard. That’s probably because that client is at a high level of fitness, they obviously like to be pushed, and they have goals that demand a higher level of training. But the next hour that same trainer that looked like they were training their client to join American Gladiators is now training someone how to do basic body weight movements and stretch. Just because a trainer works some clients one way does not in any way mean that all of their clients work at that same level or training style. Good training is about working with what a client has and building on fitness. You will always work within your means; you’ll start with the basics and build upon that.
  4. Not everyone wants to work that hard. As trainers we get that, just because we like to jump on boxes, punch bags, or throw weight over our heads doesn’t mean that you do. If you so choose to train, your trainer should always design workouts with your fitness levels, your comfort levels, and your goals in mind. If you want to increase flexibility your trainer will not be yelling at you to do 20 more push-ups, instead you may be doing some stretching and full range of motion exercises. You should only work within your means or to the point where your form is starting to fail. The workouts can be challenging physically and mentally at first but you should never walk away feeling like you never want to come back because it was so difficult!
  5. You may know how to do certain things in the gym but a trainer does a lot more than just stand there and count. Even the most advanced weight lifters have coaches; Olympic weight lifting athletes bring their coaches to their competitions…do you? Your money is paying for a professional to give you a smart and effective program design, quality teaching of movements, cutting edge fitness programs, knowledgeable and current information about exercise as well as answers to any questions you may have, and general support during your session and after. You should walk away from a session feeling like you’ve learned something that you can take with you and perform at home, at any other gym, outside, etc.

As you can see training is a lot more than sweating, yelling, and looking like you might die. Your trainer is training you to reach YOUR goals. Your trainer is there to support and push you to perform safe, proper movements and effective exercises.

If you have goals you can’t quite seem to achieve or if you are looking to learn something new about fitness contact Fitness Director Jacob Galloway to get set up with one of the SAC’s top notch trainers today! Don’t waste time spinning your wheels or being scared, if you have the will we have the way!

Mediocrity vs. Greatness

What is mediocrity? The state of being mediocre.

What is mediocre? “of only ordinary or moderate quality, neither good nor bad, barely adequate”

Well, I don’t know how that sounds to you, but who wants to be mediocre? Sounds like a boring existence.

How about greatness? Having greatness in your life does not mean you have to graduate magna cum laude, it does not mean you have to be a professional athlete or win the Tour, it does not mean you have to land on the moon or lead the human genome project…it means that you set yourself apart from the mundane of the day EVERY day and you do something above the best of your ability.

Bring greatness into your life by smiling at everyone you see on the street one day…imagine what others will feel as well. Bring greatness into your life by doing 8 reps in your workout with PERFECTION instead of just trying to hammer through 12 them. Bring greatness into your life by not giving your best… give more…go above…go beyond. You can, we are capable of much more than we believe and the human brain has more capacity than you can imagine.

So, set out today and do it right. Mediocrity MIGHT get it done…GREATNESS gets it done with purpose, pride and perfection!

Fascia Stretching and Strengthening

Fascia is a connective tissue that enwraps the muscles, different groups of muscles, vessels, and nerves. It binds these structures together and consists of several layers: superficial, deep and visceral. It forms a web sheath over the muscles the same as the whitish tissue between the skin and muscle of meat, like chicken. Fasciae are able to withstand tension forces, and reduce friction by allowing muscles to glide over one another.

Excessive repetitive movements and trauma can increase the density of fascia. Even though there are no nervous system innervations, this increased density can impede proper movement and sometimes form adhesions or tight knots. These adhesions or knots can become trigger points that cause pain. Often times traditional stretching will just produce thicker fascia, compounding the issue. An easy treatment consists of breaking the fascia up by massage and resistance stretching techniques. Resistance stretching relies on a weighted eccentric (negative) movement taken to the point of stretching, or manual resistance similar to active stretching (activating a muscle through a full range of motion).

Fascia is a very energy efficient material that acts like a rubber band and springs back into position; releasing the fascia can increase biomechanical efficiency and allows normal length tension relationships. Training the fascia can be done through plyometrics, which simulates the catapult-like motion of the body bringing the fascia through a rapid lengthened state followed by a rapid shortening; or during multi-muscle exercises or calisthenics.

If you can your actively stretch and strengthen your fascia system, it will allow you to move through a freer range of motion and increase the functionality in your daily life as well as your workout routine. For more information on how to correct any issues with your facial system please contact Amber Walz or any other PFT on staff.

Correct Breathing For Stronger Lifting

Do you ever wonder while you are lifting weights, when to exhale? Is it when pulling or pushing? Well, it can be both. It depends on which muscle group you are targeting and which aspect of the muscle’s contraction you are in. There are three types of muscle contractions: concentric, eccentric, and isometric. An isometric contraction is when there is no muscle fiber movement. For example, many yoga positions are isometric contractions. Holding a plank position is an isometric contraction for numerous muscles. The concentric contraction is when the muscle fibers are shortening, while the eccentric is the reciprocal and the fibers are elongating. In this dynamic movement, you will want to exhale on the concentric contraction of the muscle group you are targeting and conversely, inhale on the eccentric. In using a chest press for our example, which utilizes the pectoralis major (pecs), one would inhale lowering the bar to the chest because the pecs’ muscle fibers are elongating (eccentric) and exhale as you push the bar away from the body which contracts or shortens (concentric) the muscle fibers in this muscle group. If we are using the seated row as an example of the opposing muscle group exercise utilizing the latissimus dorsi (lats), then one would exhale while pulling the weight towards the body shortening the lats’ fibers and inhale when eccentrically releasing the weight away from the body.

So to sum it up, exhale when you’re doing the work part of the movement and inhale for the non-work part of the movement. If you are ever questioning which muscle group your exercise is targeting or if it is a pushing or pulling exercise, please do not hesitate to ask any one of our training staff. We love to educate.

Strengthen your GLUTES!

When you think about the best exercises to strengthen your glutes, squats, lunges, and step ups may come to mind. But all of these exercises can get a little boring, and some of them are not recommended for folks with knee injuries. Luckily, there is an exercise that you can do with minimal equipment that isolates your glutes and hip abductors that delivers greater returns on your gym time than squats, lunges, and step ups combined. This exercise is the X-Band Walk.

To complete the X-Band Walk:
For equipment, all you need is a resistance band. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart stepping on the resistance band. Cross the band (make an “X” with the band) at the knee joint and hold the band in each hand with your elbows bent to 90 degrees. Keep your knees slightly bent. Step out to the right for 10 reps, then step backwards for 10 reps, then to the left for 10, then forward for 10. Always face forward, so that you step in a box formation and return to your starting point.

How does the X-Band Walk benefit your back side?
Unlike other more popular glute exercises, the X-Band Walk isolates the gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, and gluteus medius. Although most of us are familiar with the gluteus maximus muscles (they form what we call our “butt”) the gluteus minimus and gluteus medius play a key role in the stability and power that we generate from our back sides.