5 Reasons to Never Miss a Monday Workout

30 Nov

Modivational-Monday-42Shout out to our friends from ASD Performance for this resource:

1. You’re more likely to work out the rest of the week.

Exercising on Mondays can get the ball rolling for your workout routine. There’s something about starting on a Monday that makes you feel like you’re off to the right start.

2. You’ll smile more.

Got a case of the Mondays? You’re not alone. Research shows that the average office worker doesn’t crack a smile until 11:16 a.m. But exercise could help you beat those Monday blues. One common benefit of physical exercise is that it releases endorphins, the hormones that make you feel happier. Nothing feels as great as a finished workout, right?

3. You’ll quell anxious thoughts.

Dreading that mountain of paperwork gathering dust on your desk over the weekend? It’s not uncommon to feel apprehensive about heading in to work. But don’t go hiding back under the covers just yet — you may want to hop on the treadmill for a few miles instead. Studies show that aerobic exercise can lessen general anxiety. Plus, high-intensity exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety sensitivity, or the fear of anxiety that is often a precursor to panic attacks.

4. You’ll kickstart good self-control.

It may take some willpower to lace up those sneakers, but exercise is actually a great way to harness more discipline for other areas of your life. Moving around for as little as 15 minutes has been shown to help people manage cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Why? Exercise releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps keep you in control of impulses and can quiet anxious brain activity.

5. You might make more money.

Lifting weights may not lead to an immediate promotion, but it can’t hurt your chances at some extra cash. One study found an association between gym habits and higher pay. Employees who exercised regularly earned nine percent more than their couch potato peers. Cha-ching!


Your thoughts?

Always Maintain Perfect Lifting Technique

27 Nov

Broken-lift[1]As I circulate through high school and college weight rooms, I continue to observe that young men (sorry, guys, but it’s mostly us) are enamored with the amount of weight they lift.  Many of them would rather execute lifts with more weight — using poor technique and reduced range-of-motion — than reduce the weight and perform the exercise properly.  They believe that more weight equals a better lift.

One of the “secrets” to building exceptional strength, explosiveness, and athleticism is to ensure that your lifting technique is flawless.  Athletes who become preoccupied with “how much” and “how many” compromise their results and risk injury (attention CrossFitters).

When performed properly, the benefits of exercises like the squat, deadlift, and bench press extend beyond the weight room.  Proper form means protecting your spine by keeping your back straight and core tight; and recruiting the large, powerful muscles of your hips and thighs more effectively.

When your form is perfect, you’re teaching your body to move more efficiently.  Poor lifting technique leads to poor movement. The key is to practice  perfect technique with every repetition you’re lifting.

Here’s a tip for executing every lift with flawless form:  Before starting your regular sets, perform one or two warmup sets using half the weight you’d normally use, to prepare your muscles and connective tissues for heavy loads.


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Happy Thanksgiving (Be Thankful)

25 Nov


What are you thankful for?

Contributing Factors to Change-of-Direction Ability

23 Nov

marshall_faulk[1]Regardless of the sport you play, strength and speed are “difference makers.”  And, although linear sprint speed is important, most athletes will need to change direction while moving at high-speed.

This is another area where strength training becomes important to the athlete’s development.

According to a study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, “Change-of-direction ability… would be best improved through increases in an athlete’s strength and power while maintaining lean muscle mass.” (Delaney, et. al.)

Since change-of-direction ability is heavily dependent on relative strength and power, the development of these attributes through the core, hips, and lower extremities has a positive effect on change-of-direction (COD) performance.  Research shows a high correlation between 1-repetition maximum/body mass and COD in exercises like squats and deadlifts.

In addition to the squat and deadlift exercises, the leg press and split squat are also beneficial to the development of hip and leg drive.

Single-leg exercises, like the single-leg squat, step-up, and Bulgarian split squat, add an element of balance and stability to your lower-extremity strength development.

Plyometric exercises, like box jumps and depth jumps, can help you build explosive power, improving the amount of force you are able to generate against the ground.

Since long-term (>2 years) strength training improves COD performance, it is recommended as early as childhood and adolescence.  Consult with a knowledgeable, experienced strength and conditioning professional for guidance regarding an age-appropriate, well-designed, and well-supervised program.


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The Intelligent Athlete’s Guide to Fueling Performance

20 Nov

avarietyoffoods[1]Here’s a nice resource from Coach Mike Dewar that helps to simplify the best way to eat for performance.

Coach Dewar provides several tips for adjusting an athlete’s nutrition to meet the demands of intense training:

  • Keep it simple
  • Diversify (add variety to) your plate
  • Understand your caloric needs
  • Consume enough protein
  • Performance athletes need carbohydrates
  • Healthy fats fuel long-duration exercise
  • Use supplements wisely

Active individuals and athletes must exceed US RDA guidelines for macro- and micronutrients — which are based on the needs of sedentary individuals — relative to their own metabolic demands.

“Athletes have significantly different metabolic demands than non-athletes. As we develop better fitness, factors such as sleep, recovery, hydration, and nutrition play a determining role in our ability to withstand the increased physiological and psychological stressors of advanced training and life.”


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Improve Strength, Stability with Unstable Loads

18 Nov

synrings6[1]The next time you perform the barbell squat exercise, try it with an unstable load — weights suspended from the bar by elastic bands or SYN Rings — instead of loading plates directly on the bar.

This exercise is more challenging than you think — you’ll want to cut your usual squat weight by about 50%, to start.

Squatting with an unstable load will increase activation of the stabilizing (core and lower body) musculature, and produce significant ground reaction force (GRF) — important for tasks such as sprinting and jumping.

You can perform other exercises with an unstable load, most notably the barbell bench press, which will engage the stabilizing muscles of your torso, in addition to your upper core.


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Burn More Fat When You Workout

16 Nov
Goblet Squat

Goblet Squat

Here are a few tips from ASD Performance for maximizing fat loss when you workout:

1. Total-Body Movements

To maximize your calorie burning efforts, choose big exercises that skyrocket your heart beat and leave you panting for breath. Choosing more intense full-body exercise enables you to burn more calories in the same amount of time. Some great exercises to try out: kettlebell swings, goblet squats, burpees, and any move that makes you quickly move up and down, and back and forth.

2. Short Cardio

Instead of spending extensive periods of time on a treadmill, elliptical, stationary bicycle, etc., try breaking up your cardio into multiple short rounds. 2-minute intense rounds of work has a positive impact on heart rate, body temperature, and breathing without greatly hindering your strength or power later in the workout. The only catch… you must go all-out for each 2-minute round. No slacking.

3. Loaded Carry Finisher

Finish of your fat-burning session with a a full body exercise, such as the farmer’s walk. This is such a great finishing exercise as it is a repeatable, moderate finisher that forces every muscle to work in unison for a long time. The result: more calories burned. You’ll want to do this for 10 to 15 minutes at the end of your session.


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Boost Strength, Speed, and Agility with This Move

13 Nov
Bulgarian Split Squat

Bulgarian Split Squat

The barbell squat is considered the gold standard of lower-body strength exercises, and deservedly so.

But, if you’re looking for some variety (and, even if you’re not), U.K. researchers found the the Bulgarian (rear-foot-elevated) Split Squat to be just as effective for increasing strength, speed, and agility.

This exercise can be performed as a body-weight movement, or weighted with dumbbells (pictured), kettlebells, a barbell, or a weight plate.

The Bulgarian Split Squat is a great exercise for anyone — regardless of strength training experience and proficiency — because it’s less technical and requires less mobility (than the barbell squat), making it safer.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand tall holding two dumbbells next to your sides
  • Place the top of your right foot on a bench behind you
  • Brace your core
  • Slowly lower your body as far as you can
  • Pause, and then quickly push back up to the starting position
  • Repeat for desired number of repetitions
  • Switch legs

Choose weight and repetitions according to your training goals.


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Focus Your Training on a Specific Goal

11 Nov

308_1[1]Here’s a cool idea from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR), via Men’s Health:  Focus your training on a specific — and different — strength and conditioning or fitness goal each month.

According to the JSCR, concentrating on a specific strength and/or fitness goal each month can lead to greater overall gains.

You can also vary the equipment you use — barbells, dumbbells, medicine balls, kettlebells, suspension trainers (TRX), and resistance bands.

In addition to being productive in the gym, you’ll also add variety to your training, keeping it fresh and avoiding boredom.

Give it a try by choosing a monthly goal — for example, strength, power, cardio-metabolic fitness, or endurance — and dedicate two workouts a week to achieving it.


Your thoughts?

Improve Strength, Stability with Offset Training

9 Nov

IMG_3660[1]Offset training — loading one side of your body — makes lower-body exercises like the lunge and split squat more challenging.

When performing offset lunges, holding the weight in the hand opposite your working leg engages your glutes more; while holding it in the other hand emphasizes your quads.

Offset training can also be a useful upper-body training strategy.  For example, performing a dumbbell bench press while holding dumbbells of different weights in each hand.

At its simplest, offset loading is using a higher load on one side of the body. This can be accomplished by holding a heavier weight in one hand compared to the other, holding weight only on one side of the body, or loading a bar more on one side. The greater the difference in resistance from one side to the other, the greater the offset and the greater the demands on stability.

For example, if you’re doing farmer’s walks with an 80-pound load in one hand and a 60-pound load in the other, you’ll have a 20-pound offset, with a total load of 140 pounds. Now if you’re to use a 100-pound load in one hand and a 40-pound load in the other you’ll have a 60-pound offset, but still a total load of 140 pounds.

The greater offset will demand more core stability and strength to maintain a neutral spine while still using the same overall load. Being able to use the same load with a higher demand on core function is another benefit of offset loads, and another reason offset loading will help you break through strength plateaus.


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