Tag: strength training

Worksite Warrior Recap – May 2015

Worksite Warrior is a team weight loss competition at the Seattle Athletic Club where local corporate teams of 6+ participants band together for 30 days using a team personal fitness trainer, the group exercise classes and the whole facility to see which team can lose the largest percentage of weight.


This quarter we had two teams Big Fish Game and Open Market participate in our Worksite Warrior competition. We are proud to announce that Open Market (trained by Shay Massey) won the competition losing 2.97% of their total team weight. Even though Open Market won the competition each team had some great individual results which you will see below:


1st Place Team Open Market:

  • 3 teammates were male and 3 teammates were female
  • 66% of them lost over 4.5 lbs in the 4 weeks
  • Their team lost a total of 37.1 lbs in the 4 weeks
  • The largest percentage of body weight lose by a team member was 6.04%
  • The average lost per person was 6.2 lbs


2nd Place Team Big Fish Games:

  • 1 teammate was male and 4 teammates were female
  • 80% of them lost over 3 lbs in the 4 weeks
  • Their team lost a total of 19.6 lbs in the 4 weeks
  • The largest percentage of body weight lose by a team member was 4.3%
  • The average lost per person was 3.9 lbs


If you think your company would be interested in participating in next quarter’s Worksite Warrior competition please contact Fitness Director Jacob Galloway.

Welcome Shay Massey to the Seattle Athletic Club’s Fitness Department

The Seattle Athletic Club would like to introduce its newest addition to the fitness department Shay Massey. More than just exercise or nutrition, Shay believes that true health is a dynamic state of being with an awareness and desire to improve in every aspect of life. She found that learning to break through the physical barriers we set for ourselves is often the first step in overcoming limitations in many other areas of life. Shay focuses on total body transformations using a combination of circuit and strength training as well as functional exercises

Shay’s specialties:

  • Total Body Transformations
  • Women’s Fitness
  • Circuit Training
  • Strength Training

Why Shay got into fitness:

I want to free people of their mental boundaries
Shay can be reached at   smassey@sacdt.com

Why Lift Heavy Weights?!

Say what…put on weight? That’s rarely the goal. Well I’m here to tell you perhaps it should be more of a goal than you think. I mean, let’s lift some heavy weights! Add an extra 5lbs to the bar, go up 10lbs in your dumbbells, push yourself and let’s move something heavy!

Why? Why not! Lifting heavy (I don’t mean that if you are shoulder pressing 8lbs right now that you should try and press 45lbs the next go around), or what you would consider “heavy” will really help you gain strength quickly and efficiently. Usually when I tell people to move heavy weight, especially women, the first thing I hear is, “But I don’t want to bulk up.” Oh my Lord, if ever there was a misconception! The “bulking” that most people think of when lifting weight comes from many hours in the gym, a high protein diet, heavy heavy weights, and some good genes! To become The Hulk you would really have to put in serious amounts of time and effort. This will not be happening to your average gym goer. But still I hear some people say, “When I’ve lifted heavy before I did seem to get bulkier.” This would come from a lack of fat loss, a lack of a decent diet, and a misconception about what is “bulking.” My guess is the 2 times a week you lifted “heavy” did not in fact give you raging thighs, instead it was the other things you were or were not doing outside of your exercise.

So why lift heavy? There are a multitude of reasons why pushing yourself with the amount of weights you lift is a good idea:

  1. Increase lean muscle mass which = a higher metabolism. The more lean muscle mass in your body the more calories your body burns every day. Unlike cardio, lifting weights and stressing your muscles will burn calories for you while you are doing the exercises, for an hour after, and the many hours after that. While cardio may burn 400 calories in the hour you are running your body soon loses that spike in metabolism and ends an hour after you finish. So while the number may look good on the machine, if you had lifted you would have burned nearly (if not in some cases more) that many calories in 45 minutes and will continue to burn more throughout the day. Muscles need fuel and worked muscles need extra fuel to repair and grow.
  2. Increased strength quickly and efficiently. Squatting with the 10lb dumbbells in your hands 20 times might make you feel like you have gotten a lot done in a short amount of time but in fact we’ve done just the opposite. If burning calories, increasing your strength, and spiking your heart rate is your goal you need to cut the high reps and increase your weight. The heavier weight will push your muscles more (gaining strength), push your heart rate higher (to pump more blood to your strained muscles), and give you much more benefits in half the time (think 5-10 reps instead of 15-20). Your calorie burning will shoot much higher and your body will work much harder in half the reps!
  3. Increasing your mental toughness. It’s hard to lift heavy, not just for your muscles but also for your mind. Telling yourself to try something new, pushing yourself to move up in weight, pushing yourself to keep going even though the back of your mind is telling you it’s too heavy, is so much about mental strength. It’s the old saying, “If I can do this I can do anything” kind of mentality. Work your mind and your body and finally be proud and impressed with what you can do!
  4. So helpful in the real world. I don’t know about you but I have yet to find the 5lb bag of bark/cement mix/bricks at Home Depot. If you can lift it in the gym, when you go to tackle that new retaining wall in your back yard it will be no problem! Long gone are the days of waiting for your husband to come home to move the couch/washing machine/lawn mower/etc, your a strong lady, do it yourself!
  5. It’s fun, it’s hard, it’s mental, it’s a huge accomplishment. I realize it’s not everyone’s goal to deadlift one and a half times their body weight but it should be your goal to be strong, efficient, fit and healthy. Lifting heavy is one of the best ways to accomplish all of those things!

The only draw back to lifting heavy? It’s hard to do if you aren’t sure about your form. It’s hard to do if you aren’t sure about how much you should move up in weight. It’s hard to do some of your exercises without a spotter. My advice…grab a trainer, ask some questions, get a session, and/or join a weight lifting class. If you aren’t comfortable on your own get some help or free advice, that’s what we are here for! The best way to start is move up 2.5-5lbs in the exercises you normally do (lat pull down, dumbbell bench press, lunges, etc) and cut your reps. If that seems too easy for a set of 10, go up another 10lbs. The goal should be to use heavy enough weight that by the time you get to 10 reps you shouldn’t be able to do another. If you aren’t stressing yourself you aren’t lifting heavy enough. This is hard work. It will make you wish you were downstairs running endlessly on the treadmill! Eww.

Have questions? Looking for a good way to get started on strength training? Then please contact Personal Fitness Trainer Adriana Brown.

3 Tips to Maximal Muscle Growth

One of the most frequently asked questions in the fitness world today is how to build the most muscle in the least amount of time. This question has singlehandedly been the catalyst for the creation of countless new exercises, exercise equipment, diets, and nutritional supplements all attempting to speed up results. Through this article I will cover three components to building muscle and attempt to remove some confusion on this controversial subject.

Possibly the biggest hurdle to gaining muscle lies solely in having an adequate diet to support the growth. Often we believe the word “diet” is synonymous with the practice of reducing calories. Although this type of thinking can be appropriate when trying to lose weight, it will have an adverse effect while attempting to build muscle. Even when our body is at rest it is still working like a car engine and requires fuel even if idling. The amount of calories burned in 24 hours (not including exercise) will vary person to person but will generally be around 1200-1500 calories. Adding an hour of intense exercise can bump this number up another 600-800 calories. Research has shown that up to 36 hour after resistance training your metabolism can be elevated also adding to the total number of calories burned. On top of that, each pound of muscle requires 30-35 calories a day just to simply maintain itself, so any new muscle built can have a large affect on the amount of calories needed in your diet. When we take all of these factors into consideration we can see just how easy it is to “starve” our bodies when trying to build muscle. For an accurate measurement of your personal caloric needs, it is recommended that you take Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) test.

Another obstacle to gaining muscle is having an appropriate program to follow. This means that not only is the program appropriate for challenging your current level of fitness, but also provides a clear progression in order to avoid the dreaded “plateau”. Research has shown that in order to build muscle, that muscle must be challenged to the point of failure at least 2 times per week with no more than 3 days rest in between. However, this does not necessarily mean that more is better. Training a muscle group 4-5 times per week will likely offer no additional muscle growth and can actually be harmful to your body. It is important to remember that your body needs rest otherwise it can easily slip into what is known as “overtraining”. Overtraining the body can hinder results and ultimately lead to greater fatigue and poor performance. Muscle growth happens not during the exercise but rather the days following, rest can be just as important as the workouts.

Lastly, and arguably the hardest factor to come to terms with, is patience. The fitness industry has been littered with ineffective products all promising the same miracle results using tag lines such as “Gain 18 lbs of muscle in two weeks!” or “Increase your bench press by 100lbs in 30 days!”. It is easy to get discouraged when infomercials and fitness magazines promote these ridiculous myths. Even when dialing in all other factors involving muscle growth, ultimately it is our dedication and commitment to a lifestyle change that has the most dramatic effect on results. Remember, “Nothing worthwhile ever came easy”.

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.

Try ActivTrax

If you are new to resistance training and are not interested in spending time with a Personal Trainer then read on, as ActivTrax may be a great way for you to get started.

ActivTrax combines your goals and your current level of fitness to produce a safe and realistic program for you to follow as often as you wish. ActivTrax is not perfect, but if utilized appropriately it can provide you with accountability, variety, and the motivation to try something new.

ActivTrax is quite customizable and will continue to change your workout as you progress. It can easily be adjusted as your goals and abilities change to help you avoid the impending plateau.

Additionally, ActivTrax does a very good job at exposing users to new exercises, so if you have been lifting for a while, ActivTrax may have something to offer you as well.

If you are interested in getting started, stop by the fitness department to schedule a complimentary appointment or stop by www.activtrax.com to check it out.

Single Leg Dead Lift for Greater Performance, Strength and Balance!

When designing strength training programs for a variety of clients there are a few key exercises and movement patterns that should be addressed in most training sessions. Some of the things that I attempt to use daily include the following…

  • Thoracic Mobility Exercises/Stretches
  • Single Leg Dead Lift Progressions
  • Glute Activation Exercises
  • Squatting/Lunging Patterns
  • Core Stabilization

As specific movements go, one that I like to use as either part of the warm-up or as a strength exercise is the Single Leg Dead Lift. While all of these concepts should be touched on, I believe the SLDL is crucial to incorporate for the following reasons…

Full Body Muscle Recruitment
When performed correctly the single leg dead lift requires the recruitment of all of the muscles up the posterior chain. The calf works to stabilize at the foot and ankle. The hamstring group is stretched at the same time it is working to stabilize the knee joint, while the glutes concentrically extend the hip. During all of this our lumbar extensors work to keep the spine neutral while the upper and mid back work to stabilize the scapula and keep the thoracic spine in extension.

Functional Posterior Chain Strengthening
We have the ability to both stretch and strengthen the hamstring and recruit the glute for hip extension. Hamstring pulls are often a result of poor glute function and over-activation of the hamstrings as a hip extensor. If we are able to train single leg hip extension with the glutes while strengthening and stretching the hamstring than we are killing two birds with one stone!

Balance and Body Awareness
When using the single leg dead lift in the warm-up it can serve as an especially great balance and proprioception exercise. Have you ever seen someone perform their first ever SLDL? More often than not they almost always fall over. With some repetition and coaching however a client often improves quickly. The ankle stabilizers such as, the lower leg and calf, all must fire to help maintain balance in response to the movement of the upper body. The SLDL can serve as a great drill overall for body awareness and balance for clients/athletes of all ages.

How to perform an SLDL:
The first progression for the single leg dead lift is simple and needs no equipment. Start by squaring your hips, with a slight bend in the knees. Begin by balancing on one foot, keep the shoulders back, abs in, head up and back straight, from here tip from the waist and reach hands towards the floor. The key here is to reach the rear foot as far back as possible while also reaching down and maintaining a FLAT back. Be sure to keep a slight bend at their knee so that you are not overstressing the hamstring and neglecting the glutes. The difference in glute function from a straight leg to a slightly bent leg will be significant!

Start with 2-3 sets of 10 on each side, once that becomes easy try adding weight by holding a dumbbell.

Partial Range of Motion is Way Easier and Gets You Stronger Faster Right? Wrong!

At most health facilities in the world if you were to look out on the weight room floor I’m sure of two things… people will be doing curls, and people will be doing partial range of motion. Usually these go hand in hand, but people can do partial range of motion (ROM) in many different exercises; the most common being pushups, squat, & pullups/chinups.

I’m sure many of you have great reasons for only doing half of the motion; starting back in the 80’s some research even came out to say that you can have the same benefits from doing half reps as the full rep. Many people say that their bodies react to it better, it’s safer on their joints, they are stronger and can workout harder etc. etc. Well let me tell you what the science says about partial range of motion exercises:

  1. Partial range of motion can be used to gain strength & size, especially if you have plateaued. They go on to state that it is not a workout regiment you do every day, more of a once every two weeks and it must be accompanied by a full range of motion exercise using the same muscle groups within the same workout. Partial ROM is also supposed to be utilized AFTER a base strength has been achieved!
  2. The strongest muscle fiber is a fully elongated (stretched) and fully hydrated. If we take that first concept, a fully elongated muscle fiber means working a muscle through the full ROM. If you do partial reps, you are strengthening only one half of the muscle fibers. Let’s take pushups, if you just push yourself up halfway off the floor, or only lower your body halfway down…what happens when you fall and need to catch your body with that muscle fiber that is never worked. My guess would be injury. This may not happen right away, but I guarantee if all you ever work is partial ROM severe injury will plague you at some point.
  3. What happens with muscle fibers that are continually contracted but never stretched or relaxed? They become very tight and shorten up. A prime example of this would be with the bicep curl. For those of you who curl the weight up to your shoulders and then as you lower it shoot your elbows backward keeping a large bend in the arm, you will end up with locked elbows. Ever see those people who cannot straighten their arms out all the way? Well your bicep can actually fuse to your arm if you do too many partial ROM exercises and never incorporate straightening your arms all the way. The only way to have this fixed once it happens is surgery where they have to tear the muscle off the humerus… doesn’t sound like too much fun to me! (Women are allowed to have a soft elbow, meaning an ever so slight bend in their arm, when doing curls because of a hyperextension issue only with females).
  4. Now the big question, squats…should someone go below parallel? Isn’t it bad on the knees? Here is my opinion on this topic; since the science goes back and forth with some research stating it is bad on the knees & others stating it is just fine. One…when we were born could we squat our hips below our knees? If you are ever in the SAC go check out the day care; I bet you a dollar you will see kids squat down their diapers below their knees to pick up toys! Two…look at other countries like China and Japan, everyone there sits with their knees below their hips to do everything. You will see people of all ages reading newspapers, eating, holding a conversation sitting in a deep squat. So if we were born able to do it and other counties do it (and they have a lot less knee/hip issues than the USA) I would assume it would be ok to perform a deep squat, but even smarter to utilize a trainer to help you get going first.
  5. Are there exercises it is ok to do partial ROM? Yes there are, but for the general population who workout in the gym, there is no need for them to do them; and if you really want to know what they are, come find me ill let you know which ones. A hint is they are usually associated with the shoulder complex!

All in all, if I was to recommend someone do partial ROM it would be to get over that plateau in strength, but I would still make them do that same movement full ROM within the same workout. Women may have a soft bend during curls to prevent hyperextension of their elbows; other than that there is no solid evidence of any full ROM exercise (to my knowledge) being a safety concern. If you have questions about your form on an exercise, grab a PFT in a red shirt and ask them to check out your form; we would gladly assist you in correcting any unsafe movements!

Are Your Joints Making Noise?

Many of us who have stepped into the gym are probably familiar with the popping sound most commonly found in the elbow, shoulder, wrist, back and knee. Do you wonder the reasoning for this and if it could be something to worry about?

Noises in the joints can be quite disturbing and cause concern. Good thing is often, these noises are not an indication of any underlying problem. Knee cracking and popping usually sounds much worse than it is. Such noise often persists for years without any real problem developing. The key is if there is no pain with cracks or pops, you can assume it is being caused by the soft tissue in a joint. The tendons snap a little like plucking guitar strings. Another reason is because of a release of gas dissolved in the fluid of the joint. Sometimes joints make crunchy noises due to small bone fragments in the joint, like sand under a steel wheel. Joints can also make popping noises when they dislocate but are usually associated with extreme pain.

The bottom line is this. If you hear pops and clicks with no associated pain in a joint, you may want to begin some conditioning exercises to improve the overall integrity of the joint. If the muscles are strong, they will take the weight off of the joint and relax the pressure on those articulating surfaces. If there is pain along with those joint noises, there may be structural damage building in the joint, and it would be wise to see a physician for a proper diagnosis.

A proper warm up before exercising; as well as looking into taking some glucosamine and/or fish oil (which are supposed to increase the synovial fluid within the joints; your joint’s grease!)should help reduce the popping sound and stiffness of the joints. If you have any questions please feel free to contact any of the fitness staff at the Seattle Athletic Club.

How to Supercharge a 20 Minute Workout

So, you have 20 minutes and you can’t decide if it’s worth working out. You ask, “Is 20 minutes really enough time to do anything? Is it worth me getting changed and finding my workout socks at the bottom of my bag for?” Let me tell you, it is!

Here are a few ways to make 20 minutes seem like an eternity!

  1. High cardio interval training. Sprint one lap on the track and walk a straight away. Repeat until 20 minutes is up or you die.
  2. Stairs, run them, jump them; carry a med ball over your head, etc. etc. Nothing like moving your body up through space with the biggest muscles in your body to not only burn massive amounts of calories but also increase your strength.
  3. Strength work. Pick a big full range of motion lift, preferable a lower body exercise. Do a quick 5 minute warm-up and then add weight until you get to your heavy weight (as many sets of 3-5 as you can fit in 20 minutes). Front squat (works quads, glutes, hams, and core), back squat (same as front with more emphasis on hams and glutes), single leg front squats, push press, thrusters, or deadlifts. You’ll be amazed at how fast you start sweating when you start adding “real weight” to your major lifts. Not only will you increase strength (and thus increase metabolism), but if you give your self just enough rest to make the next set you’ll also be working on your cardio!
  4. Combine 4 basic movements and do as many as you can until your time is up. Air squats, push-ups, lunges, bench dips. All very basic, all body weight, all can be done ANYWHERE. Do as many air squats as you can, when you have to break or your form becomes less than 100% move to push-ups. Move through all exercises and start all over. To make it fun you can record how many reps you did of each exercise. You’ll be smoked and wishing that you only had 10 minutes to workout!
  5. Find a happy medium. Do 2 minutes of sprinting (all out effort) on any machine, after that move to 3 or more of your favorite exercises. Again, the more weight or the more body parts involved in the exercise the better but as long as you keep moving sky is the limit. Perform 10 perfect reps of each exercise (ab roll-ups, kettlebell swings, long jumps) and then hit up the cardio again. Repeat 3-4 times and enjoy the high caloric burn!

These are just a few ways to make 20 minutes worth the effort of lacing up your gym kicks! If you need more guidance or ideas try a session or two with a personal trainer and see what else the exercise world has to offer!