DISPOSABLE MYTHS The truth about biodegradable and compostable packaging – and the best alternatives.

TIME TO DISPOSE OF THOSE DISPOSABLE MYTHS?
By Naomi Arnold for Fit Planet

 

We all know single-use plastic is bad, so what about those biodegradable and compostable alternatives? Unfortunately, you can’t always trust what it says on the label.

Disposable myths  960x540.jpg

 

When China stopped importing plastic waste on the last day of 2017, millions of tonnes of plastic suddenly had nowhere to go. Countries accustomed to shipping their waste offshore were forced to seriously consider alternatives.

 

What to do? Given enough time and bacteria, pretty much everything is biodegradable – even plastic, after a thousand years or so. But most of the plastic ever made is still around in some form; it’s so ubiquitous that it’s now not uncommon to see birds using it to build their nests.

 

One recent innovation has seen the rise of so-called biodegradable and compostable plastics. However, there is a bewildering array of claims, names, and standards. If it’s biodegradable, it’s good, right? But what are these newer plastics? Do they even break down? What do they turn into? And how?

 

Bioplastics: the term suggests environmental friendliness, and it’s true these products are made from renewable biomass materials, such as corn or potato starch, soy or milk proteins, straw, and wood chips. Sounds good – but not all bioplastics are biodegradable, and they don’t necessarily break down more quickly than regular plastic. Compared to fossil-based plastics, however, bio-based plastics are carbon neutral when they break down.

 

Biodegradable plastic: this means the product can be broken down by living organisms – bacteria that feed on the material. It should meet international standards for biodegradability in different environments, and end up as carbon dioxide, methane and water, as well as additives that may have been used in the plastic’s manufacture.

 

But just because a product can break down in theory, doesn’t mean it will in practice. One example is polylactic acid, or PLA, made from corn. PLA is meant to decompose into carbon dioxide and water in a “controlled composting environment” in 90 days or less, but that means a commercial composting facility where temperatures reach 140 degrees for 10 consecutive days, so bacteria can do their work. In unfavorable conditions, it may only break down into micro-plastics, creating big problems in the ocean and accumulating in soil.

 

Compostable plastic: a subset of biodegradable, meaning it’s usually been tested to return to nature – break down into humus – in a commercial facility, not a home compost heap. This can be confusing for consumers who throw their “compostable” plastics out with their potato peels and wonder why they’re not breaking down in the backyard.

 

Commercial facilities aren’t always widely available, and cities don’t often have waste management streams to direct them there. They can also be a headache for commercial composters, who have different composting cycle lengths and find their true compostables contaminated with plastic-seeming bags.

 

In the real world, unless compostable and biodegradable plastics are purposely directed to the right commercial composting facility – to which not many of us have access – they’ll end up contaminating other recycling streams or go to landfill. And they still produce methane, a greenhouse gas, when they break down in conditions with no oxygen.

 

Ultimately, there are many different ways you can measure whether a product is environmentally friendly: water, deforestation, and energy used in production; waste and greenhouse gas outputs; and how it does or doesn’t break down in the environment. But the best solution is to consume and throw away as little as you can. It’s better to be vigilant with what comes into your home, than to try dealing with what goes out.

 

Given the uncertainty around compostable or biodegradable plastics, perhaps a better idea than researching the composition of every item you bring home would be to focus on the alternatives.Here are a few of the more obvious examples:

 

Biodegradable teabags

Those pyramid-shaped mesh teabags are often made from nylon or polylactide (PLA) a corn-derived bioplastic, which can take six months to compost in a commercial facility and longer at home. As teabags often contain plastic in some form, try using loose-leaf tea instead and composting it afterwards.

 

Biodegradable coffee cups

Don’t believe the claims. For a cup to be fully compostable it has to be composted properly – and most go straight to landfill.Drink in or bring your own “keep cup”.

 

Biodegradable doggy-do bags

Dogs in the United States produce 11 million tonnes of waste a year – twice the weight of the Great Pyramid of Giza, and more than humans did in 1959. It mostly goes to landfill, when it’s not contaminating waterways with bacteria that make people sick.Yes, there are biodegradable bags available, but if you just throw them into the public rubbish bins, assume they’re treated the same as regular plastic and layered into landfill, away from oxygen and light. Maybe ask your local authority why they don’t provide dog-waste composting bins at popular dog parks – and lobby for a local pet waste industrial-composting facility too.

 

Biodegradable supermarket bags

These will also likely go to landfill unless you’re meticulous about finding out what happens to them once you’re done, and your city has the right facilities.Bring your own, or use a cardboard box.

 

“Compostable” food containers

Depending on what these are made of, you may be unable to compost these yourself at any great volume, and commercial composting facilities may not be available – so they’re probably going to end up in landfill. The best option is to either eat in, or bring your own containers for takeaway. You can also ask your local government, schools, businesses, and other organisations to adopt a zero-waste policy for events; this means people bring their own eating and drinking equipment. Encourage a school or community group to set up a dish-washing station with second-hand plates available for attendees who forget their own. It’ll soon become a habit.

 

Delivery food containers

South Korea has truly mastered the art of food delivery, turning it into an experience resembling hotel room service. Though the restaurants use a lot of plastic wrap to keep food from spilling, they at least don’t add to it with container waste. Instead, the delivery driver, who usually turns up on a scooter, unloads your meal contained in the same dishes you’d get in the restaurant. When you’ve finished, you place them outside the door, just like in a hotel, and someone returns to pick them up. In India, Hungary, and some Asian countries, an entire meal-delivery ecosystem has built up around “tiffin” or “dabba” lunchboxes containing hot meals from home. Vancouver-based The Tiffin Project, currently in hiatus, experimented with bringing this real-food, waste-free movement to the city. Could this be the future for other cities too?

 

Naomi Arnold is a New Zealand-based author and writer specializing in environmental and health issues.

INTRO TO LES MILLS GRIT: Everything you need to know about LES MILLS GRIT

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LES MILLS GRIT
By Emma Hogan for Fit Planet

Considered one of the quickest ways to take your fitness to the next level, the high-intensity interval training of a LES MILLS GRIT workout builds cardiovascular fitness and lean muscle while sending calorie burn through the roof.

LES MILLS GRIT bodycopy1-533x300.jpg

WHAT IS HIGH-INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING?
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is any workout that involves short, intense bursts of effort followed by periods of recovery. The idea is that you go as hard as you possibly can for a short time, rest and then do it again. The intense intervals, particularly the use of the recoveries, allow you to keep reaching your maximum training zone, which is where the results kick in. The HIIT formula can be applied to almost any type of exercise – sprints, cycling, group exercise and functional training.

WHY IS LES MILLS GRIT THE IDEAL HIIT WORKOUT?
Every LES MILLS GRIT™ workout features a variety of functional exercises that are scientifically structured and tested to ensure they drive the heart rate into specific training zones at certain times. These highly-effective exercises are matched with powerful music, and led by highly skilled coaches who motivate you to push yourself to your max.

WHY SHOULD YOU DO LES MILLS GRIT?
If you’ve reached a fitness plateau, LES MILLS GRIT provides the challenge and intensity you need to take your fitness up a notch. With just a few short sessions a week you can rapidly improve aerobic fitness and increase athleticism. You’ll unleash fast-twitch muscle fibers and grow lean muscle tissue, which is key to burning fat.

HOW MANY CALORIES DO YOU BURN DOING LES MILLS GRIT?
In a 30-minute LES MILLS GRIT workout you can expect to burn around 400 calories* – and that’s just the beginning. LES MILLS GRIT stimulates excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which puts your metabolism into overdrive and helps you burn calories for hours after a workout.

WHAT EXERCISES DO YOU DO DURING LES MILLS GRIT?
High knee runs, burpees, mountain climbers, tuck jumps and squat jumps … these are just some of the moves you can expect in a LES MILLS GRIT workout. The LES MILLS GRIT Athletic option also features functional speed and agility training moves, and if you opt for the LES MILLS GRIT Strength option you’ll do sets of weighted squats, lunges, dead rows, and clean and presses too.

DOES LES MILLS GRIT REALLY GET RESULTS?
Yes! Research shows LES MILLS GRIT improves lean body mass and maximal oxygen consumption, while drastically cutting the risk of heart disease. LES MILLS GRIT is also recognized as being extremely effective at cutting stubborn and unhealthy tummy fat. There are studies showing how this type of HIIT exercise drives the greatest activation of muscle and fat-burning capacity, and research highlighting how HIIT creates excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), meaning your body continues to use oxygen and burn fat long after you’ve stopped exercising. 

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU DO LES MILLS GRIT?
While it’s easy to get hooked on the endorphin high of HIIT, you shouldn’t do LES MILLS GRIT more than twice a week. New research reveals optimal results come when you limit the time you spend with your heart rate above 90 percent maximum to 30-40 minutes per week (which equates to two LES MILLS GRIT workouts).

HOW FIT AND STRONG DO YOU NEED TO BE?
If you’re new to fitness, diving head first into HIIT is not a wise move. We suggest you build a good level of base fitness and have a regular routine of cardio and resistance training before you tackle HIIT.

While it’s ideal to have some base fitness, you don’t need to be super fit or strong. LES MILLS GRIT workouts feature simple movements that are relatively easy to master, and while the coaches are there to push you to your max, you can go at your own pace. In fact, if you need to stop to catch your breath it’s a good thing – as that indicates you’ve been pushing your body to the max training zone.

WHAT DO YOU NEED FOR A LES MILLS GRIT WORKOUT?

You’ll need to wear comfortable workout clothes and supportive shoes, and bring your own drink bottle and a sweat towel. Choose the LES MILLS GRIT Cardio option and there’s no need for any additional equipment. For LES MILLS GRIT Strength you’ll need a barbell and weight plates and LES MILLS GRIT Athletic makes use of a bench and weight plates.

CAN YOU DO LES MILLS GRIT WHILE PREGNANT?

This is not a good idea,as pregnancy is not the time to be pushing your body to its limits.

HOW DO YOU BECOME A LES MILLS GRIT COACH?

The first step to becoming a LES MILLS GRIT Coach is to connect with a club or your local Les Mills team. We’ll then provide you with plenty of training, you’ll get assessed, and then you’ll be ready to lead your own workouts. You can find out exactly what it takes to become a LES MILLS GRIT Coach here.

STICKING WITH EXERCISE: It seems genetics can influence whether you stick with your routine.

FIVE STRATEGIES FOR KEEPING UP YOUR FITNESS RESOLUTIONS
By Mike Trott for Fit Planet

 

Struggling to stick to an exercise regime? Here’s the thing – it may not be all your fault.

How to stick with exercise 960x540.jpg


It’s an all too familiar story: we eat too much over the festive period, and then commit to becoming fitter and healthier in January. A couple of months later, those ambitions are mostly lost and it’s likely that we feel guilty for not sticking to our new healthy lifestyle. But research shows that we may not be entirely to blame.

In fact, it seems that genetics may have a part to play in whether or not we are likely stick to that New Year’s resolution.

The study of the human genome (i.e. our DNA and what makes us who we are) has revealed several genes associated with habit formation. Some of the most interesting of these are associated with dopamine receptors. Dopamine is commonly known as the “pleasure” hormone, but when it comes to habits it serves an even more important purpose: it’s shown to increase our willingness to endure things that we don’t enjoy. This means that if you have higher levels of dopamine you are more likely to go back to the gym even if you are not really enjoying it, than someone with lower levels of dopamine.

So we just need more dopamine right?

Not quite.

Fun experiences increase your levels of dopamine, so surely everyone who does a LES MILLS™ workout experiences the magic should come back again and again? Actually no! This is where your dopamine receptors come in. The dopamine receptors are responsible for telling your brain how much dopamine is in your system, which is directly linked to the feelings of being able to handle an exercise session when you don’t really feel like it. So, the more dopamine receptors you have working, the more the body is responsive to the hormone, and it is your genes that mostly control which dopamine receptors are switched on or off (specifically D1 and D2 receptors).

Essentially, if you are that person who, when going to the gym starts to feel like a chore, struggles to get off the sofa, it may not be all your fault: your genes are at least partly to blame.

How much are we controlled by our genes?

This is an ongoing argument, but one thing is certain: genes do not 100 percent control our behavior, which means that there are things are we can do to build the habit of exercise, regardless of genes.

FIVE WAYS TO MAKE YOUR EXERCISE HABIT STICK

1.      Do exercise you enjoy

There is something for everyone when it comes to fitness, so the key thing is to do things that you enjoy. If you don’t know what you enjoy, then try everything! Dip your toes in the water – there are plenty of options.

2.      Don’t overdo it

This one is key – people frequently start off an exercise routine by doing as much as they can as frequently as possible. The bottom line is, this just isn’t sustainable in the long run, and can lead to people giving up. So, although you may want to spend every day doing your favorite workouts, be careful to take regular rest days where you do not exercise. This will let your body and mind recover. Good news, you can still get your Les Mills fix on your rest days – LES MILLS MINDFULNESS sessions are available free On Demand.

3.      Be nice to yourself – it’s okay to miss a day!

Set goals for how much you want to train, and then don’t beat yourself up if you miss one. Studies have shown that missing one planned session is completely fine. Not only will it not really affect you from an overall health and fitness point of view, it also doesn’t affect whether or not you are going to build a habit. So, if you miss an exercise session, try not to worry about it too much, and recommit to your goals as soon as possible.

4.      It takes time to build a habit – lots of time

Studies have shown that it can take anything from 18 to 254 days to build a habit, depending on the individual. That is a huge range! So please don’t worry if you see someone who can get into the flow of things and keep doing it after a few weeks, you may be one of those people who it takes longer to build a habit. One thing is for certain though, you can’t build a habit of something you don’t do!

5.      Celebrate successes

In this busy world, we don’t celebrate our successes enough. Celebrating success in fitness is crucial to building a habit, as it provides positive re-enforcement of a good habit. Successes can be small or large. So, post on social media and let the whole world celebrate with you!

The bottom line

Some people are genetically pre-dispositioned to be better at building habits, but that does not mean that you can’t build a healthy habit of exercising by choosing something you enjoy and not beating yourself up about missing one session.

Descartes, an ancient philosopher, is quoted as saying:

‘I think, therefore I am’

This holds true for building habits. If you think you don’t try, then you will never build the habit. So why not adopt a positive mental attitude, tell yourself and others that you will, and you can sustain it this time round, and who knows, despite genes, it may well be true.

MORE REASONS TO LOVE LIFTING: New studies add more weight to the value of resistance training.

MORE REASONS TO LOVE LIFTING
By Emma Hogan for Fit Planet

If you haven’t made strength training part of your weekly workout regime what are you waiting for? Not only will it get you strong, lean and fit, new research now associates lifting weights with halving the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

You get stronger, you get fitter, you burn calories, you enjoy long-term fat burning benefits, and you even grow stronger bones. If these benefits of strength training weren’t enough, new research reveals that resistance training goes hand-in-hand with a healthy heart.

This good news comes from a team of US researchers who analysed the health records of thousands of men and women, delving into the details of their exercise habits and medical history over an 11-year period. The researchers considered how often people engaged in resistance training (not at all, once, twice or three or more times a week) and the amount of time they dedicated to lifting (more or less than an hour each week). They also considered whether people met the recommendation of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. All of this information was assessed against medical data – specifically incidences of heart attacks, strokes, and deaths.

The findings show that even a small amount of resistance training is associated with a lower risk of heart attack or stroke – remarkably, the risk of heart attack or stroke was roughly 50 percent lower for those who lifted weights compared to those who didn’t. Those who enjoyed the greatest declines in risk lifted weights twice a week for an hour or so in total. And it seems these savvy strength trainers benefit from the reduced risk even if they don’t engage in frequent aerobic exercise.

So is resistance training better than running?

More reasons to love lifting 960x540.jpg

While aerobic exercise such as running or walking has long been linked to heart health, thanks to another studythere’s evidence that strength training could be the better option.

This study compared the cardiovascular risk factors (such as high blood pressure) and exercise habits of 4,000 adults, breaking the exercise into two types: static activities (strength training) and dynamic activities (running). Both types of exercise were associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease risk factors – but the static activity appeared to be most beneficial.

There is also proof that strength training packs more punch than expected when it comes to calorie burn. For a long time strength training has been mistakenly perceived as being relatively ineffective when it comes to calorie burn. But ground-breaking research from Les Mills Lab throws that thinking on its head. The study,published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport,highlights how, even though strength training typically burns fewer calories than aerobic training, the calorie burn from strength training has a more profound effect on long-term fat burn. You can learn more about it here.

BEYOND CALORIE BURN: This new research will change the way you think about calories.

PREPARE TO CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT CALORIE BURN

By Finlay Macdonald for Fit Planet

 

New research makes it clear we should look beyond the immediate calorie burn of a workout, focusing instead on longer-term benefits for body composition and metabolism.

In this era of activity tracking, when we have instant workout data at our fingertips, it’s very tempting to judge our activity based on how many calories we’ve expended. Have we burned enough to justify that post-workout latte or glass of wine this evening?

But while balancing calories-in versus calories-out plays an important role in maintaining a healthy weight, it isn’t the only factor. Vital research from the Les Mills Lab proves it.

The New Zealand study–published in the Journal of Science andMedicine in Sport– showed that certain types of exercise can trigger far greater fat-burning and other healthy responses in the body than simple calorie counting suggests.

 

The results fundamentally challenge the way we think about calories, demonstrating that different workouts have different effects on the hormonal and physiological changes that take place in people’s bodies, even if they burn the same number of calories.

 

Conducted by Associate Professor Nigel Harris of Auckland University of Technology, the study aimed to identify the underlying causes of clear differences (shown in an earlier study) in body fat reductions resulting from resistance trainingcompared to more intense cardiovascular workouts.

 

By comparing the levels of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) present in subjects after they had completed resistance training and cardio cycling workouts, it was shown that HGH was 56 percent higher after resistance training.

“Human Growth Hormone oxidizes fat and builds lean muscle tissue,” explains Bryce Hastings, Les Mills Head of Research. “That’s important for ongoing calorie expenditure because muscle burns more calories than fat. The more muscle you can build, the more calories your body will burn long-term. Combine that with increased fat loss and the result leads to rapid changes in body composition.”

Similarly, blood lactate levels were up to 81 percent higher after resistance training sessions compared to cycling sessions. Lactate levels build when the muscles work hard, and it is the accumulation of lactate from exercise that sparks the previously mentioned growth hormone response.

The results also have implications for the exercisers relying on simple measurements of calorie output during workouts or training sessions, according to Dr Harris.

“Calories matter,” Harris says, “but so does the effect of an exercise session on hormonal and physiological responses, which are known to have positive, long-term effects on body composition. A wearable device which only measures heart rate and calorie count may therefore be too limited a tool to get adequate understanding of the other, arguably more important, adaptations taking place in our bodies when we exercise.”

In short, the beneficial effects of certain exercise types – such as resistance and high-intensity interval training – can last long into the recovery period, well after the actual workout is over.

Overall, says Hastings, the new study points to how much more people need to know about the effects of certain exercise types. “It’s complex, he says, “and just counting calories misses a big part of the jigsaw. We now know that.”

HOW THE STUDY WORKED

If you burn 300 calories doing cardiovascular exercise – steadily pedalling on a bike, for example – is that the same as burning 300 calories doing resistance training? This is the question exercise scientist Nigel Harris, of Auckland University of Technology, and a team of researchers set out to answer.

To investigate, they set up a study to compare a weights-based resistance training workout to a steady-state cardio session on a bike. Specifically, they were interested to see how study participants’ physiological and hormonal responses to the two different workouts would compare, even when the calories burned and duration of the workouts were exactly the same.

The study focused on 13 healthy females and the weights program used was a 55-minute BODYPUMP workout. First of all, participants did a BODYPUMP session. They measured the calories they burned during that class and set the intensity levels for the cycling session accordingly, to make sure calorie expenditure was exactly the same in both workouts.

So, for example, if a participant had burned 350 calories in the original 55-minute BODYPUMP class, their cycling session was programmed to ensure they cycled for 55 minutes and burned 350 calories in this workout too.

To measure their hormonal response to the two workouts blood was taken from the participants before and after both workouts.

The results were striking.

Human growth hormone: long-term calorie burn

The first hormone measured was Human Growth Hormone (HGH), which oxidizes fat and builds lean muscle tissue. That’s important for ongoing calorie expenditure, because muscle burns more calories than fat; the more muscle you can build, the more calories your body will burn long term.

Both workouts boosted levels of HGH, but HGH was an impressive 56 percent higher after the weight training than after steady-state cycling; BODYPUMP had a far greater impact on the body’s metabolism and long-term calorie burn.

IL-6: changing body composition

The study also measured levels of interleukin 6 – a chemical that’s released by your muscles when you exercise. Interleukin 6, or IL-6, plays an important role in the body’s inflammatory response to exercise and is known to induce fat oxidation, which suggests it’s a significant factor in exercise-related changes in body composition.

IL-6 was a statistically significant 3 percent higher after BODYPUMP than after the cycling session.

Blood lactate: the catalyst for change

Finally, the study looked at blood lactate. Lactate levels build when our muscles work hard, and it’s the accumulation of lactate from exercise that sparks the growth hormone response we mentioned earlier. In fact, research suggests that exercising at an intensity above the lactate threshold, and for a minimum of 10 minutes within a workout, is the greatest stimulus there is to the secretion of HGH.

Lactate was 81 percent higher after BODYPUMP than after cycling.

Focus on the long-term benefits

On all counts, then, our body has a far greater long-term response to certain types of weight training, specifically the high repetition training of BODYPUMP, than it does to a calorie-matched cardio class. And that’s really important, because when you exercise, you want to make lasting changes to your body – it’s what makes all the effort worthwhile.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?

HIS Basically, when you’re deciding what exercise to do, remember: it isn’t just about the calories burned during the workout itself. It’s important to also consider the longer-term physiological benefits. When compared to a more intense cardiovascular session, a workout such as BODYPUMP might have a lower calorie burn during the 55 minutes of the class itself. However, as this study shows, its impact on metabolism and body composition is both significant and ongoing.

SHOULD YOU BE WORKING OUT MORE?

By Alex Hernandez for Fit Planet

 

Forget spending hours excessively exercising, we’ve got more evidence that maximizing the time you spend working out won’t fast-track your fitness. It’s quality over quantity that gets results.

Quality over quantity 960x540.jpg

Now more than ever in human history there are tons of options for working out. In spite of that, there are now also more obese people, more injured people, more people with poor body images. And the answer we hear most often is that we need to work out more, but is that really the case?

A recent study looked at three groups of individuals doing the same workout, varying the speed of the exercise. For example, one group did a chest press for two seconds on the way down and four seconds on the way back up; another group did 10 seconds on the way down, 10 seconds back up. Every group did their workout to momentary failure. The shorter duration exercisers did more reps than the slower exercisers, but all of them spent approximately the same length of time under load (about 90 seconds).

 

The researchers found no significant difference in strength gains between the three groups, even though the slowest group was only doing 1.5 reps of each exercise. You read that right: ONE AND A HALF reps at 30 seconds each way. 

 

In another study three groups of experienced lifters were put through the same regular workout, with the only difference being the volume of exercise: one group did a single set, the second did three sets, and the third did five sets. They all used a weight that took them to momentary failure after about 8 to 12 reps. The researchers found that all the participants experienced the same strength gains, even though the single set only took about 17 minutes to finish, and the five sets took about 70 minutes to finish.

 

If you work out to the point of momentary failure, you will get stronger, regardless of how long you work out. 

 

Both of these studies confirm what we’ve known all along: it’s not quantity, it’s quality. 

In both studies, the key was reaching momentary failure; if you get to the point where you experience momentary failure, you will experience strength gains, regardless of the length of the workout. 

 

This is one of the reasons I love Les Mills BODYPUMP. During a BODYPUMP workout each muscle group is given anywhere from three to six minutes of isolated work. Whenever I take the class as a participant, I focus on maintaining perfect technique every rep and I select a weight that takes me to momentary failure by the time the workout for each muscle group is done. That’s been the recipe that I’ve used to get stronger and accomplish my goals. 

THE POWER OF PULSES - Science shows even the littlest movements matter.

By Bryce Hastings for Fit Planet

 

If you want strong, lean and toned muscles it’s the littlest movements that can make a real difference. Check out these new insights from the Les Mills Lab to find out how small movements can create big change.

 

We’ve long known that when it comes to resistance training it’s fatigue, not load, that generates change within the muscle – and there’s plenty of research to back it up. We also know that maximizing fatigue comes down to manipulating range of movement and repetition speed. New insights now clearly show that pulses are a great way to maximize fatigue when lifting light weights for higher repetitions.

 

What do pulses do that full-range exercises don’t?

 

Pulses 240x240.jpg

The team in the Les Mills Lab set out to measure the difference in muscle activation between full-range squats and squat pulses. Here’s what we found:

 

Full-range squats, as you’d expect, fire up all the global muscles that drive your body away from the ground. This highlights how full-range squats are great for working the gluteus maximus, rectus femoris and the hamstrings.

 

What we see with squat pulses is a more isolated activation of the quadriceps muscles closer to the knee. The activation of these muscles is key for stabilization.

 

We see a similar pattern when comparing the activation levels of the key muscles involved in a full-range chest press with pulses. This is what we found:

 

Pulses - chest press gif.gif

Again the full-range chest presses resulted in activation of the key push pattern muscle groups, the pec major and anterior deltoid. As soon as we introduced a pulse action we saw a significant increase in the activation of lat dorsi, again acting as a stabilizer.

 

IN SUMMARY
These findings highlight how combining pulses with full-range exercises changes activation patterns and allows you to engage all the key target muscles. This is the secret to maximizing fatigue and driving muscle change.

 

What’s the difference between a pulse and a bottom half?

 

If you’re a BODYPUMP regular you’ve probably very familiar with both the terms “pulses” and “bottom halves”. Both movements are designed to help maximizing fatigue by manipulating range of movement, yet there are slight differences. Pulses are much smaller in amplitude and involve moving just a few inches above and below the point of maximum tension (e.g. bottom of a squat or mid point of a bicep curl). Bottom halves work a larger range from halfway up to the bottom of the movement.

 

Pulses are based on the science of occlusion training
Occlusion training (often termed blood flow restriction training) commonly involves wrapping a pressure cuff around your limb to restrict blood flow of a working muscle. When this happens the low oxygen level in the muscle forces your body to recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers and lactic acid accumulates, which accelerates change within the muscle. Engaging in pulses creates a similar effect as using a pressure cuff, as the small range of motion restricts blood flow to the muscles, and that’s when the transformative effects kick in.

 

 

Bryce Hastings is a leading New Zealand physiotherapist and fitness expert. As Les Mills Head of Research he leads research into the most effective approaches to exercise and plays a pivotal role in structuring all LES MILLS™ workouts. Bryce’s passion for effective exercise is born from spending 30 years in physiotherapy, where he saw “people getting their lives wrong” every day and felt like he was acting as an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. By working in fitness he gets to be the fence at the top.

HOW’S YOUR PERSONAL WAR ON PLASTIC GOING?

By Margo White for Fit Planet

PLASTIC POLLUTION SOLUTIONS
Simple steps you can take to fight the war on plastic pollution.

With manufacturers and retailers finally waking up to the plastic pollution crisis, what can we do right now as individuals to keep up the pressure?

War on plastic 960x480.jpg

Assuming you’re not living under a rock, you’ll be aware that the planet is suffocating in plastic. It happened so fast; plastic has only been around for 65 years or so, but it’s estimated we’ve produced 8.3 billion tons of it in that time. By weight, that’s the equivalent of 25,000 Empire State buildings or one billion elephants. 

Worse could be yet to come; plastic production is predicted to double again in the next 20 years, and a report from the World Economic Forum warned there’ll be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by weight by 2050.

The better news is that people are sick of plastic, angry about the plastic, and a long overdue plastic backlash has begun. This could partly be thanks to David Attenborough’s BBC series, Blue Planet 2, which featured albatrosses unwittingly feeding their chicks plastic, and a pilot whale mother nursing its dead calf, poisoned by plastic. Also, China has banned the import of low-grade recyclable waste, so countries are having to face up to the waste in their own backyard, rather than shipping it for some other country to take care of. 

Companies seem to be waking up to their responsibilities too, or at least recognizing that all this plastic is bad for the brand. Getting rid of the plastic straws (which can’t be recycled) is hardly going to save the planet, but it’s a start. Starbucks has announced it will replace them with “adult sippy cup” lids, Ikea says it will phase out all single-use plastic products in its stores and restaurants by 2020, including plastic straws, plates and garbage bags, McDonald’s has started using paper straws, and Seattle has banned plastic straws altogether with its “Strawless in Seattle” campaign.

 

More than 25 countries around the globe now either ban or tax single-use plastic bags, the UK-based Iceland supermarket chain is working to transition all its own label products to being plastic-free by 2023, and a number of companies responsible for 80 percent of the plastic packaging produced in the UK have signed up to the Plastics Pact, pledging to make plastic reusable or compostable, and eliminate single use packaging, by 2025.

 

Plastic is fantastic, malleable, durable and cheap to make, and for some decades we’ve been persuaded that there was no alternative. That was rubbish. Yet we had the brains and technology to develop synthetic plastics in the first place (if not the brains to consider where it would end up), so we have the brains and technologies to come up with viable, less environmentally disastrous alternatives. 

“One single water bottle will remain on the planet in some form for a minimum of 450 years.”

One way to address this ever-escalating problem is recycling, but only about 9 percent of plastic waste is recycled, and 12 percent is incinerated, while the rest ends up in landfill or the sea. We clearly need better and more consistent recycling systems, butrecycling is never going to be a fix-all solution; plastic can’t be recycled infinitely, and after a handful of times it will be end up in landfill. As stated in a recent column in the Independent, “One single water bottle will remain on the planet in some form for a minimum of 450 years.”

Many researchers are focusing on biodegradable plastics, butit’s not yet clear what “biodegradable” actually means; some so-called biodegradable plastic might just break into smaller pieces of plastic and end up in the ocean, where the water is cold enough to preserve them as long as other plastics.

Bio-plastics, which are derived from plants and actually compostable, are also getting a lot of scientific attention. The problem with bio-plastics is that they have typically been made from corn, sugarcane, vegetable oil and starch, which would mean diverting resources (fertilizers, water, land) used to make food, to make plastics.

Many researchers are now turning to seaweed as a more sustainable raw material, because it grows fast, without fertilizers or land. Indonesia, one of the world’s largest seaweed producers, is leading the charge in this area, with Indonesian startup Evoware developing a seaweed-based jelly cup, and now expanding into other types of packaging such as dissolvable sachets for coffee or seasonings. Work still needs to be done to find ways to make seaweed-based plastics as versatile and economically competitive as oil-based plastics.

Many argue that solving the plastic crisis requires shifting from a linear (buy, use, dispose) economy to a circular (buy, use, re-use, recycle or repurpose) economy. This would also mean designing products in ways that prioritize what happens to them at the end of theirlife, and developing social policies to support the infrastructure to dispose of them in an efficient and sustainable way. 

What can we all do in the interim? We have the people power. Not so long ago supermarkets said they used all that plastic packaging because consumers demanded it. So by that logic, consumers could (and should) demand supermarkets use less of it; when a carrier bag surcharge was introduced in the UK in 2015, carrier bag use dropped by more than 80 percent. 

Let’s face it, we had the technology to get ourselves into this mess, we can come up with the technologies to get out of it.

WHAT CAN WE DO RIGHT NOW?

·         Recycling isn’t the fix-all solution, but recycle when you can. Don’t contaminate your recyclables with items such as polystyrene trays and plastic bags, or the plastic on tissue boxes – contaminated recyclables end up as general waste.

·         Pay attention to how many plastic wrapped or plastic items you buy each week in supermarkets, and see what you can do without. Say no to plastic straws, microbeads, plastic shavers and whatever plastic you can. Make a game of it!

·         Use re-usable bags, and use them as many times as you can before throwing them out.

·         Avoid putting fruit and vegetables into a plastic bag before putting them into your re-usable bag. If you really need bags for the fruit and vegetables bring your own or, if you get caught short, use the paper bag usually provided for mushrooms.

·         Buy in bulk when possible.

·         Put pressure on businesses and retailers to reduce unnecessary use of plastic, and local and central governments to support alternatives and recycling initiatives.

·         Keep the faith that things can change. Get mad if it doesn’t.

2019 = Skill Up!

The New Year is approaching soon! Are you ready? 

Do you want to be successful this year? 

Here’s how! 

Step 1: Become aware of the skills you need to be successful! What do you need to work on in the new year? Become familiar with the obstacles ahead in order to manifest what you want! How will you take the next step in your health or business? SKILL UP! 

 

Step 2: Gazelle Focused! I mean get quiet and decide what you want. “Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.” In other words, make like a gazelle and run for your goals and dreams! Don’t stop until you get there! 

Step 3: Practice self discipline. Without discipline you cannot achieve big things. Self discipline is being stronger than your greatest weakness. Resist temptation and keep yourself accountable towards your goals ahead. 

Step 4: Prepare for failure. If You want to do anything great in this world you may face failures. As you step out of your comfort zone there is a chance of failure. Acknowledge that today, so If failure does hit you are ready.  It will be how we deal with those failures that will determine how successful we will be in the future. 

 

Follow our page here Crossfit 696 Kids! Not only will you get to see our CrossFit youth fitness programs. But starting January 1st our first “Move For Life” post will be posted there! Mobility tricks, stretches and more! Move better this New Year.  Spend just   10 minutes a day stretching and mobilizing the muscles, joints and bones! 

“Move for life." Make your health a priority in 2019! 2019 is your skill up year!! 

~ Coach Kayla 

 

BURPEE BASICS

BURPEE BASICS: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW TO MASTER THIS MOVE
By Emma Hogan for Fit Planet

Burpee_960x540.jpg

If you want to shift your fitness fast, burpees will make it happen. With this one simple yet challenging moveyou can send your heart rate through the roof, build cardio endurance and torch fat.

Burpees are fast-paced, dynamic and never boring. You don’t need any equipment and you can do them any time, anywhere. String together burpees in rapid succession and you’ll put your fitness, agility, coordination and strength to the test.

The muscles you work

Burpees are the ultimate full body exercise! You work your triceps, chest, glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and all the muscles of your core with each rep.

How to set up the perfect burpee

·         Place your feet slightly wider than your hips

·         Position your feet with toe angled 5-20 degrees outward

·         Lift your chest

·         Ensure your weight is distributed through the heels and balls of your feet

·         Brace your core muscles.

 

The movement

·         Squat down and keep your chest elevated

·         Place your hands on the floor

·         Brace your core and jump your feet back to a plank

·         Jump your feet back in wide

·         Jump tall and land with bent knees

·         Repeat

 

Tailor the move to suit your ability

An alternative to doing the burpee is to try a few by just walking your legs back instead of jumping into plank. You can also take out the jump at the end.

To advance this move try and shoot your feet out even faster into the plank. However, it’s important that you have your technique right before you add speed.

Other ways to up the ante includeadding a push-up during the plank phase of the movement, doing one-armed burpees (make sure you alternate arms), adding a tuck jump at the end of each burpee, or jumping laterally over a bench in between burpees.

Fun fact: The burpee is named after American physiologist Royal H. Burpee who created it in 1940 as part of his Ph.D. thesis as a quick and simple way to assess fitness.

 

Make sure you …

#1       Don’t skip the squat movement. It’s important that you really focus on the squat component, as squatting reduces the stress on the lower back as you transition to the floor. Learn more about why you need to squat – not crouch – while you burpee here. (LINK TO BURPEE SQUAT article)

#2       Jump safely. It’s important that you bend your legs a lot as you land, as this will help absorb the load and protect your knees.

#3       Brace your core hard as you jump back into the plank – bracing your abdominals will help look after your lower back.

 

 

How to get better at burpees

Try 12days of burpees. Start on day one by seeing how many burpees you can do in two minutes, and aim to add an extra burpee each day. On day six and day 12 do the 2-minute burpee beep test.

Give your body a short, sharp cardio kick by doing the2-minute burpee beep test. Press play on this soundtrackand see if you can do a burpee every time you hear a beep – be warned, the beeps get quicker towards the end!

Up for the 100 burpee challenge?See how long it takes you to power through 100 burpees. If you can do it within 10 minutes you should feel pretty pleased with yourself. Do this 100 burpee challenge weekly and aim to knock off a little time each week.

 

Fun fact: Burpees first became popular when the US military began using them to test the fitness level of new recruits during World War II.

 

If you like the idea of smashing out sets of burpees to some motivating beats give LES MILLS GRIT a go. Burpees are also a regular feature in BODYATTACK and often BODYSTEP too. You can find a class or work out On Demand.

MUSIC, MIND & MUSCLE

Music, mind and muscle 960x540.jpg

MUSIC, MIND AND MUSCLE: HOW IT WORKS
By Margo White for Fit Planet

For many people, listening to music is an essential part of exercising – it motivates, helps us maintain or increase our pace, makes working out more fun, sometimes less painful. Now science is beginning to uncover exactly how why this happens.

Some things about music are well known. It captures our attention, lifts our spirits, triggers emotions, alters and regulates mood, heightens arousal and encourages rhythmic movement. It also distracts us from any pain and fatigue that we might be experiencing while exercising.

So it’s unsurprising that when it comes to working out to music, both the brain and body are involved, and each influences the other.

Professor Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University London, a leading expert in the interplay between music and exercise and author of Applying Music in Exercise and Sport, has described the use of music while exercising, as “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug”.

One of the unusual things about being human is that we unconsciously, instinctively, move to the beat of whatever rhythm we’re listening to. As many studies have shown, a certain rhythm can make people walk, run, swim, pedal or paddle faster.

Ethiopian athlete Haile Gebreselassie famously attributed his breaking of the indoor 2000-meter record in 1998 to synchronizing his stride rate to the beat of the 1995 hit, Scatman, by Scatman John. “I’m a Scatman! Dum dum and then you know the timing and at the same time your style changes immediately,” Gebreselassie told CNN. By all means, give it a go. It’s certainly infectious.

It seems that music can make us work out faster and harder, but also make exercise seem easier. In one of several studies in this area, Karageorghis and his team found that participants who cycled to music that matched the tempo of their pedaling rhythmused less energy than when the music was slower.

This interaction between music and exercise is a burgeoning research topic, partly prompted by new technologies that allow us take our music with us everywhere we go. Yet the mechanisms involved are not well understood. What is going on in our brain when we exercise with music?

Scientists have long known that there are direct connections between the auditory neurons and motor neurons in the brain; even if someone is sitting perfectly still, listening to music they like increases activity in various regions of the brain important for coordinating movements. Some researchers argue that people’s instinct to move in time to music could be put down to this “neural crosstalk”.

Dr Marcelo Bigliassifrom the University of São Paulo, Brazil, has spent the last ten years looking at the neural networks that activate in response to exercise and music, to understand better how music influences psychological, physiological and psycho-physiological behavior.

“In general, my studies indicate that auditory and audiovisual stimuli have the potential to increase the use of dissociative thoughts, such as daydreaming, elicit a more positive affective state, ameliorate fatigue-related symptoms, and enhance exercise performance,” he says. “And the mechanisms that underlie such potent effects appear to be associated with the rearrangement of the brain’s electrical frequency.” 

He has found, for instance, that theta waves – the low-frequency waves in the brain, often associated with sleep, that correspond to feelings of deep relaxation – tend to up-regulate in response to exertion, but are down-regulated throughout the brain in response to music. “Therefore, sensory stimuli might have the potential to partially counteract the detrimental effects of fatigue and facilitate the execution of movements.”

This seems to be particularly true in challenging situations, such as first training sessions, or with clinical populations, such as patients with obesity and/or diabetes.

In a recent study he used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the regions of the brain that activate when participants exercise with music. He found that the combination of music and exercise yielded increased activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus, an area of the brain that appears to be directly associated with processing feelings of exertion. “Accordingly, increased activation in this region appears to assuage negative bodily sensations during exercise.”

Music, he says, can also reduce the neural outputs sent from the brain to the working muscles, effectively blocking the negative bodily signals entering our focal awareness.

However, it’s important to understand that the psycho-physical effects of music on exercise depend on a variety of factors. Those new to a particular exercise, it seems, might be more responsive to music than experienced trainers. It may partly depend on personality – some researchers have suggested that extraverts (who typically seek out external sources of stimulation) are more responsive to music than introverts.

“The use of music is reliant upon several factors, such as the participant’s attentional style, exercise intensity, complexity, mode, etc,” says Bigliassi. What might work for a spin class, for instance, probably won’t work for something involving a high level of concentration (such as golf putting), in which auditory distraction is more likely to disrupt performance than enhance it. 

Context is everything. Some activities lend themselves particularly well to musical accompaniment, particularly if they’re repetitive and strenuous, such as warm-ups, weight/circuit training, stretching and so on. Whatever you’re doing, it’s best to match the rhythm and tempo to the activity, says Professor Peter Terry from the University of Queensland, in his paper, Psychophysical Effects of Music in Sport and Exercise.

“For example, if the goal during warm-up is to elevate heart rate to 110 bpm [beats per minute], then limit choices to music with a tempo in the range 100-120 bpm or, better still, selections that increase gradually in tempo from resting heart rate (around 70 bpm) up to 120 bpm.”

We know at an intuitive level that music is motivating and sustaining, but if gym managers, trainers, athletes or anyone trying to get/keep fit want to harness the psycho-physical benefit of music, they should be aware that one play list does not fit all. One person’s motivational music is another person’s turn-off noise. It’s personal, but used in the right place, at the right time, it’s increasingly apparent that music – as a motivational tool, and an endurance support – really does work.

THREE WAYS TO DO BETTER PUSH-UPS: These three things could be holding you back.

HOW TO DO BETTER PUSH-UPS: By Alex Hernandez for Fit Planet

Mastering the push-up is easy when you say goodbye to these common technique issues.

 

Doing push-ups on your knees can be just as effective as doing them on your toes. Now, we’re going to address a few push-up technique issues that could be holding you back from realizing your push-up potential.

 

ISSUE #1:The Rocker

 

KneePush-Up rocker.jpg

A lot of kids learned to do push-ups on their knees with their feet up in the air and it carries over into adulthood. It’s probably taught this way because the lower leg is thought to act as a counter-balance to the upper body (think of a see-saw!) and it makes the push-up a little bit easier. But there are two big reasons why you should lose this habit immediately:

 

·         The distribution of mass in our bodies is such that the mass of the lower leg is tiny compared to the mass of the upper body. Imagine an adult on a see-saw with a child: it’s not going anywhere! In exchange for the small gain of the counterbalance effect, you’re essentially grinding your knees into the floor. The rocking effect requires the knee joint to act as a fulcrum on the floor. The patella, or knee cap, is floating in front of the joint and, as we rock on the knee, it gets mashed around, causing discomfort and possibly pain. 

 

·         Having your knees as the only two points of contact on the floor can make you unstable. If you’re working to try to get stronger in the push-up, this instability can take your focus away from the pushing motion, instead you are simply concentrating on not falling over. When this happens you’re no longer isolating the push muscles and it makes it that much harder to get stronger.

 

Here’s the solution: Rather than keeping your feet dangling up in the air, place your toes solidly on the floor. With your toes on the floor, you’ll find that the tibial tuberosity (the head of the bone in your lower leg) actually makes contact with the floor rather than the patella. And the four points of contact (knees and toes) will make your body more stable so you can focus on isolating the arms and chest. 

 

ISSUE #2: The T

TPush-Up.jpg

 

When most people think of a push-up position, they think of the capital letter T – the arms are out wide and even with the shoulders.

 

In this position, the motion is outside of the line of action of the pectoral muscles, so the anterior deltoid and muscles of the shoulder become the primary movers. Since the shoulder muscles are relatively weaker when compared to the pectorals, the force generated is less. So if you choose to do push-ups in the T position, you may find that you struggle to do push-ups on your toes, or simply tire sooner.

 

ArrowPush-Up.jpg

Instead of thinking of a T, it’s a good idea to replicate a position that’s closer to an arrow shape.

 

When your arms are in this position the hands are in line with the center of the chest and the motion is within the line of action of the pectorals. This allows the bigger chest muscles to take over and the shoulder muscles are used for stabilization. When the larger chest muscles are recruited, it becomes easier to do the push-up on your toes and it takes longer to fatigue. 

Push-Up technique-960x540.jpg

ISSUE #3: The Eccentric

 

If you’re still struggling to do push-ups on your toes, give this one last thing a try. Start in a plank position with your knees off the floor and lower yourself down into the push-up. At the bottom, drop your knees to the floor and push yourself back up until your arms are extended. Lift your knees and repeat.Why does this work? It’s taking advantage of a well-known training principle: your muscles are stronger while they are extending (eccentric) than they are while they’re contracting (concentric). On the gym floor, training the eccentric phase of a movement is called “negative” training and is commonly used to build strength once you’ve hit a plateau using traditional techniques. Follow this approach and over time you’ll find that you’ll get stronger and develop confidence in your ability to do the push-up. After a while, you’ll be able to mix in a few full on-the-toe push-ups. 

 

If you’re really keen to master the toe push-up give this 16-day push-up challenge a go.

 

If you want more tried, tested and true news from the leading edge of health and fitness sign up to get Fit Planet insights and advice straight to your inbox.

 

 

Alex Hernandez is a North Carolina-based BODYPUMP and LES MILLS GRIT trainer who also teaches BODYCOMBAT, BODYJAM, and BODYBALANCE.He is a proponent of purposeful training to improve movement and performance, embraces the idea of the unsteady state, and as a master trainer for Trigger Point Performance, he regularly shares his expertise in self myofascial recovery. He is also a mechanical engineer.

—————————

This piece originally appeared on lesmills.com.

Hospitality, The Game Changer in the Fitness Industry

Our world has grown and changed and along with that so has the fitness industry. As an industry it is important that we recognize these changes and adapt. Gone are the days where joining a gym or health club meant just becoming another member. It is so much more than just that, it truly is a lifestyle change. Along with this change has come the ever growing need to integrate the act of hospitality into the fitness industry.

People have long thought that service and hospitality were interchangeable terms, but that is far from the truth. Any gym can provide a facility and equipment for one to workout in, a service that is. Not every gym can provide hospitality. Hospitality is much different in that it is how you make one feel, it’s personalized and it is making the member feel as though you are on their side. 

We are in an industry where we can not only change people’s lives, but we can save people’s lives. Integrating hospitality within the fitness industry is one of the big factors that can help lead to one’s success on their fitness journey. Not every situation is cookie cutter. Our industry needs to be able to show passion and care for every individual and personalize their experience so that we can best help them achieve their goals. Hospitality is what keeps them coming back, it makes them feel welcome, comfortable and most importantly it makes them feel as though someone is right there fighting with them all along the way. Let’s face it, none of us can do it alone. At one point or another we all need someone on our side to push us when we’re on the brink of giving up.

As both a member and employee of Fitness Concepts Health Club I strongly believe hospitality is what sets us apart from everyone else. Hospitality is woven into the culture of the organization. There is a culture of truly caring, and of being there right beside each other to fight for whatever one’s goal may be. We are not just here to provide you with a service, we are here to provide you with hospitality. To make your life better in the best way that works for you and to be their fighting with you throughout your whole journey. Our members are not just members, they are part of our family, that is what makes Fitness Concepts so special.

Organic Seasoning Shakers

Do you have a million spices in your drawer? Half of them you don't know what it is and what you should put it on! Ever in a rush and don't have time to take out and locate ten different spices? This simple craft is your new go to to take your cooking to the next level!!!

Follow the ones we made or create your own!!!  

As a general guide we put an equal amount of each spice but feel free to load up on your favorites and leave out something you do not have or do not like!

IMG_8241.JPEG

CHOOSE YOUR SEASONINGS!

TACO:  black pepper, oregano, chili powder, sea salt, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, onion powder, cumin

BBQ: sea salt, black pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder

CHICKEN: thyme, rosemary, sage, majorum, pepper, celery seed, nutmeg

CHILI: chili powder, garlic, cumin, oregano, paprika, onion, thyme

RANCH: parsley, chives, dill, garlic powder, onion powder, onion flakes, salt, pepper

STEAK: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, dill weed

IMG_8245.PNG

STEP #1

Get an empty spice jar labeled and ready! This set worked out great for us for only $19 off amazon!

IMG_8242.JPEG

STEP #2

GET OUT ALL OF YOUR SPICES!

IMG_8244.JPEG

STEP #3

PUT TOP AND SIDE LABELS ON YOUR SPICES!

IMG_8243.JPEG

STEP #4

ADD SPICES TOGETHER IN A BOWL AND MIX!

IMAGE.JPG

STEP #5

USE YOUR FUNNEL TO GET YOUR SEASONING INTO THE APPROPRIATE JAR!

What do you know about squat?

Any good exercise program should involve some type of assessment. Assessing yourself is the only way to determine how functional your movement is. So when is the last time you’ve taken a step back to really assess your movements? We’re not talking about the mirror selfie you posted to Instagram this afternoon, what we’re referring to is a good analysis of some of the basic movements that you’re performing in the gym on a weekly basis (some of them even under high loads and high repetitions). 

There’s more ways to track your progress in the gym other than the number on the scale or the weight on your bar, or how fast you did a mile. Have you ever stopped to look at HOW you’re actually moving. One of our favorite ways to track our athletes progress is by assessing their movement faults and cleaning them up. Once we’re moving better, it makes losing or gaining weight that much easier, and it goes without saying that the weights on your bar will increase with more effective movement patterns that recruit the proper muscles.

Let’s take a second to talk about something we do every single day, hundreds of times a week without even thinking about it.... we squat! If your current workout program doesn’t incorporate squats in some way, we highly recommend you add them in immediately. Your body will thank you for it. 

So what should a squat look like, and what does YOUR squat look like? Every body is different and we all move different in some way. At the end of the day, our squat should always include a few important factors before we start to add load to it.

First, your torso should remain upright and your spine must stay completely neutral throughout the movement. There are exceptions with the upright torso when it comes to the low bar back squat, but we won’t be discussing that in this post. The spine must remain neutral in order to add load to the movement and always avoid the “butt wink” (when your tailbone tucks under your hips, visualize a dog going number two). 

Second, your knees must not collapse inward towards one another, and the same applies to your ankles. Your knees should remain out in line with your toes. Your toes should be able to point straight or turned out just slightly. Refer to the image below to see what valgus knees and collapsed ankles look like. You may also find that your feet will turn outward as you squat deeper, a sure sign of instability or tightness in your lower body. 

IMG-6828.PNG

Thirdly, your feet must maintain three points of contact with the floor. Big toe, little toe and heel must stay down as you squat. Your foot should maintain a solid arch as you splay your toes against the floor throughout the movement. 

Take two minutes to try this very simple test and start assessing your squat today. Stand with your toes against a wall about shoulder width apart. Toes should be straight ahead or slightly turned out. Raise your arms straight overhead and keep them from touching the wall if possible and don’t bend your elbows. Nose should be almost touching the wall. Slowly try and squat as low as possible while maintaining the three elements we mentioned above. Refer to the picture below and take a video of yourself so you may assess your movement. 

IMG-6830.PNG
IMG-6831.PNG

Did you find that your feet wanted to turn out or did turn it as you went down? Did your heels lift up and you found yourself on your toes? Were you unable to squat below parallel (hip crease below your knee)? Did you feel a lot of discomfort in your lower back or shoulders? Were you unable to squat very deep at all?

If you answered no to all of those questions and you were able to clear a full depth squat with ease, congratulations you passed the test! You possess the necessary ankle dorsiflexion, hip flexion, and thoracic stability to add some weight to that squat. As the load increases, be sure that all those points of performance remain intact. Then start to master all the forms of a squat including back squats, front squats, overhead squats and the infamous pistol squat. 

IMG-6833.PNG

If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, let one of our coaches help you uncover the reason why. Maybe it’s because you rolled your ankle years ago playing pick up basketball and your mobility in that ankle isn’t quite where it should be? Maybe you work at a desk for hours a day or have a long commute which leaves your hips knees and lower back tight and therefore difficult to move properly when you hit the gym? Whatever the case may be, we are here to help! 

We hope you liked this article... keep your eyes open for the next blog... “How deep should you squat and why is it important to be able to deep squat” and “how’s your overhead press?”

For more information or to perfect your squat please email Chris@fitconcepts.net or matt@fitconcepts.net we’d love to help! 

Ignite the fire to change your life... my Fitness Concepts Journey

By: Danielle Fagnant

One reason people resist change is because they focus on what they have to give up instead of what they have to gain.
IMG-6670.PNG

Fitness Concepts not only changed my life, it saved my life. At the end of 2008 I was diagnosed with diabetes and PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and my doctor wanted me to seriously consider weight loss surgery. On January 28, 2009 my 5 foot tall, 236 pound body stepped into Fitness Concepts scared to death, but ready for change. I was immediately welcomed by friendly faces and quickly found myself a part of an amazing community. With the help of the Biggest Loser program, group fitness classes and the personal trainers a to Fitness Concepts, I not only lost over 50 pounds but more importantly was able to come off of all medications associated with the diabetes and PCOS. Fitness Concepts isn't just a gym, it's a community. That may sound cliche, however it is the truest statement possible. I would not be where I am today without the help and encouragement from everyone from the front desk staff, to the group fitness instructors and personal trainers. When I say that my life completely changed, I mean that I am truly not the same person that walked into the club 9 years ago. I went from a complete couch potato, working at a computer all day, playing games on a computer all night while eating an entire large pizza on my own, to being an active and healthy mom to an energetic 4 year old. I workout 5-6 days per week and have found such a passion in exercise that I'm now a group fitness instructor. I want to be able to bring the motivation and inspiration to members like other instructors and trainers brought to me. When you join Fitness Concepts, you truly become a part of a family. Everyone cares about you, gets excited to see you; they will share excitement about your success and stand by your side to help you get through any difficult times. Fitness and lifestyle change is a constant journey and everyone at Fitness Concepts is there with you every step of the way. 

Thinking of doing an obstacle course race this year? Spartan, tough mudder, etc... Here are 3 quick things you need to know to help you prepare:

shutterstock_2711765.jpg

1) GRIP – No matter what obstacle course you choose, you’re going to need some good grip to get through. With everything from bucket and jug carries, monkey bars, rope climbs, and even just the simple wall, having good grip can help you breeze through the course.

  •  How to train:
    • Basic: Plate pinch: pick up a 5, 10, 25, 45 lb. plate (depending on your fitness level) and hold onto it with just your finger tips and thumb. You can do this while stationary or while walking. This is a great way to tax your grip muscles in a very controlled way, try to hold for 15-30 seconds for 4-5 sets.
    • Advanced: Dead hangs or dead lift holds. Dead hangs are pretty boring but a great way to get used to being up on a set of monkey bars. Simply get onto a pull-up bar and hang, you can increase difficulty by adding pull-ups at set intervals or holding onto a medicine ball with your feet to at weight. Dead lift holds should be done with a comfortable working weight for the exercise and only if you’re experienced with the movement of dead lifting. Bring the bar to the top of the movement and hold for 3-10 seconds before returning the bar to the ground, repeat this at your working weight rep range.
images (1).jpeg

2) ENDURANCE – all races involve some level of distance, and that distance’s impact is relative to the person attempting it. So regardless of how “long” a race is or isn’t you want to prepare your body to complete it at the pace you desire.

  • How to train:
    • Basic (Open Heat): A good way to accomplish this is to attempt the course distance at least one a week. Your body should be able to comfortably reach it in the weeks leading up to the event. So if you’re training for a Spartan Sprint (roughly 5 miles -/+) you may want to set aside the next 8 Saturdays to get a good 5 miler done either on the treadmill, road, or trails. This will help acclimate your body to the distance and help avoid strains or injury during the race.
    • Advanced (Age Group – Formerly Competitive): So you want to step your game up and try your hand in the competitive age group waves? While training will vary drastically based on the distance and terrain you should be setting aside at minimum 3 solid cardio days. Working on intervals for speed and thresholds, tempo run to really get the body used to sustained steady work, and longer easy runs to get the longevity at a soft pace.
    • Legendary (Elite/Contender) Lets chat. J
Strength-Training.jpg

3) STRENGTH – “Runners” are finding it harder and harder to “blitz” OCR Athlete between obstacles, and the main reason for that is the increase in obstacle difficulty and technical skill required.  As the industry matured so have the complexity and sometimes brutality of the obstacles, meaning if you don’t have the strength, that 6:00min/mile pace isn’t going to be enough to make up the ground.

  • How to train:
    • Basic: Stick to them, basic compound lifts or bodyweight movements that engage multiple muscle groups all at once are a very simple way to achieve a baseline that will help you through many of the obstacles.
    • Advanced: Start super setting. No obstacle is singular in what it demands. A great example is bucket carry, the argument can be made its all grip. Wrong, it’s all grip when you’re standing still with a bucket, but add a ½ mile climb up a mountain, you’re now leaning forward, taxing your back more, and your claves and quads are soon on fire. By super setting grip work with lunges, deadlifts with pull-ups you’re able to simulate in a controlled setting the taxation you’ll experience on the course.

Now the caveat of all this is it all depends on your goal and your event. Some events such as Tough Mudder’s Toughest 8 Hour are endurance events, and depending on your level can run into 30s and 40s with regards to mileage, training for that is vastly different than if you are just attempting to walk your first Warrior Dash, or you’re trying your hand at the competitive age groups in a Spartan Sprint. Tailor your training to match you event, and your goals for it. Questions? feel free to DM member Ryan Josti on Instagram @RJosti87

 

Member of Fitness Concepts Health Club? Don't forget Bear Crawl Obstacle and Fitness Park is included in your membership and located in the back of Fitness Concepts! Stay tuned on an early season obstacle race that welcomes all levels of OCR fitness @ Bear Crawl Park this June!!!

22528356_295293707653517_8045278186579418096_n.jpg