Compound Exercises

One of my clients said to me today, “You don’t believe in doing any easy exercises do you?”

Which made me ask, “What do you mean?”

She said, “You know…like curls or any non-complex moves…”

And I had to smile, because, no, I don’t really believe in doing isolation movements very often.

I want to get the most out of the time I have – and to get the most out of a shorter amount of time, you need to do COMPOUND MOVEMENTS.

Honestly I don’t believe you ever need to do isolation exercises unless you are a body builder, fitness model or someone rehabbing an injury.

They simply aren’t that functional. They don’t work numerous muscles at once. They don’t burn as many calories. And generally they are focused on smaller muscles that just simply don’t give you that much bang for your buck or even need to be worked that often or intensely.

That being said, I do believe in isolating your glutes more, but that gives you  A LOT of bang for your buck and even when “isolating” your glutes often other muscles in your legs do assist.

I mean think about it….When you work your chest most of the moves also work your triceps and shoulders. So why do tricep extensions when you can work a big muscle group like your chest while ALSO hitting your triceps AND your shoulders?

Or take for instance the push up…You can work your chest, shoulders, triceps, abs, quads and even your glutes WITH ONE MOVE. Would you really rather do a tricep extension and just work your tricep?

push-up-holds

Same goes for bicep curls.

Why do bicep curls when you work your biceps with basically every back exercise? And compound back movements like the Inverted Row hit the BIG muscles of your back to also improve your posture and prevent/alleviate neck, shoulder and upper back pain?!?

inverted row

Hmm just work your biceps or work numerous muscles at once to make lots of muscles stronger while burning more fat and helping to alleviate aches and pains….

Tough decision right?!?

Also…too many people complain they don’t have time to workout.

But it isn’t that they don’t have time to workout, they just don’t have time to do some of the bodybuilding routines shown in some fitness magazines.

When working out you have to consider your goals AND the time you have.

And probably 90% of the time COMPOUND EXERCISES are the answer.

But wait…What if I want to tone this one specific trouble zone?

Uhm…well you can’t spot reduce for one so you would be better off doing a compound exercise that burns more fat and still works the muscle.

Yup…Compound movements are STILL the answer.

Are you using your workout time wisely and doing exercises that will give you the most bang for your buck?

(Another good question to consider when picking compound exercise variations and weights (and a post for another day) is, “Are you getting the most out of your workouts by actually CHALLENGING yourself?”

Practice What You Preach

Recently I’ve seen a ton of crazy hard workouts trainers have given their clients that they themselves could NEVER finish.

And it always irks me.

Because for one, I believe you should never ask someone to do something you can’t do and two, it gives people the perception that if they aren’t absolutely completely destroyed at the end of the workout it wasn’t hard enough (even if that isn’t how the trainer trains him or herself).

I’ve also overheard a lot of people recently preaching different healthy eating strategies when they, themselves, don’t eat clean and follow their own advice.

STOP IT PEOPLE!

Practice what you preach!!!

Especially as trainers we need to practice what we preach.

And that doesn’t mean you have to look a certain way or lift a certain amount to be a good trainer. But it does mean that we shouldn’t ask our clients to do things we can’t and have never done before ourselves.

If you don’t make time for working out with your busy schedule, how can you ask your clients to?

If you don’t make time for meal prep and have never logged your food in a fitness app, how can you ask your clients to?

You can’t. Because you don’t know how difficult it is to do those things or how to overcome the excuses.

You don’t know what it truly takes so how can you help them stay motivated and moving forward.

Sure…You can say the things you’ve read, but you’ve never experienced what they are going through.

Same goes for the workouts we write up.

Yes, we know what muscles are being worked by an exercise. Yes we know reps and sets and rest periods and how they all technically affect us.

But have you ever realized that while certain exercises seem like a good idea together, they end up being complete murder…Even though TECHNICALLY they fit the “mold” or design?

And you wouldn’t know that if you didn’t try them together.

No…You may not be able to try every workout you write up (although it wouldn’t be a bad idea to run through as many as you can), but you should have experienced and experimented enough with different exercises and designs that any routine you throw someones way you know you could complete…Complete at the toughest possible variation.

Ok. So some of you right now may be thinking, but I have some clients that can lift more than me/do more pull ups or push ups.

And I’m not saying that you can’t have them do more challenging variations or lift more weight.

But I do ask you to have challenged yourself as much as they will have to. And to have tried the variations (or even modifications of them) to know how they will affect the person.

We need to practice what we preach.

Because how can you ask someone to do something you wouldn’t or couldn’t do?

How often should I do prehab/rehab?

I often get asked when and how often people need to do prehab/rehab stuff for aches, pains and even old injuries. They ask how often they need to foam roll, stretch and even do activation exercises.

And my answer….

Before you have pain!

If you’ve had an injury or you know you are prone to aches and pains in certain areas, you need to take care of those areas before pain arises or before you do things that could lead to pain if those areas aren’t loosened and activated.

And if pain has flared up in an areas, you need to be extra diligent to do everything you can to alleviate.

How often you need to do the prehab/rehab will vary. If you stay on top of things, a few minutes each day may suffice.

If you wait till things start to flare up, you may have to spend more time on prehab activities.

But I would like to point out that if you have neck, shoulder or upper back pain from sitting at a desk all day, rolling out for one minute every other day isn’t going to do it.

Just think about how long you sit with poor posture….Does one minute of pain prevention (aka foam rolling, stretching, activation) really seem like it equals the time you sit with poor posture?

Does it really seem like that minute can counteract the 9 hours?

NOPE.

So why do we all expect results when we basically spend only minutes a day doing the right things and hours doing the wrong things?

The thing is we can’t.

While there is no exact amount of time we need to spend doing rehab/prehab exercises and stretches, we do need to consider just how much time we spend each day doing things to counteract all the good we do in the gym.

That one hour each day we spend there with our 5-10 minutes of warm up (foam rolling, stretching and activation) simply isn’t enough.

But that doesn’t mean you need to spend hours each day to see benefit. Five minutes when you wake up, the occasional stretch or rolling at your desk, 5-10 minutes before you workout, a few minutes after your workout and maybe a minute or two before you go to bed.

If you did that every day…WOAH!

At most, what I outlined above, is like 30 minutes out of your day…AT MOST.

And yet we can’t find the time for that?!?

Suffering from pain and injury is our alternative and yet we skip those 30 minutes and wonder why we never get better.

30 MINUTES a day! An excuse to get up and stretch while sitting at our desk all day! Or heck simply a stretch in the doorway when we get up to go the bathroom. (AHEM…Look at all those stretches you can easily do at your desk!)

desk-exercises

Or some balancing and leg swings when we brush our teeth to keep our ankles strong.

balancing for ankle rehab

This is seriously not hard stuff. Shoot it isn’t even as hard as finding 15-30 solid minutes to workout! Almost all of these things can be done while doing something else.

Watching TV? Sit on a ball on the ground to roll out your glutes, hips and low back to get rid of your achy low back!

trigger point for hips and glutes

Simple little prehab/rehab things can go a long way to keeping an area pain and injury-free.

Because even if you did the initial rehab after an injury, you are never done.

You ALWAYS have to take care of that area and make sure to maintain strength in the muscles up and down the kinetic chain from that disruption.

Because every day we do things to create imbalances and potentially upset old aches and pains or create new ones.

So to live pain free…What is a few minutes each day on exercises to keep you balanced?

Are you diligent about doing prehab activities – foam rolling, stretching, activation, balance and stability stuff?

How do you fit those things into your day?

Here are some great tips and exercises to help you prevent and alleviate minor aches and pains:

NOTE: This is discussing previously rehabbed injuries and minor aches and pains. If you suffer from an injury, make sure to do the physical therapy rehab prescribed to you!

A couple of posts in case you missed them…

Just wanted to share 5 posts I’ve written over the last month that I feel are super helpful. Enjoy!

1. PULL UPS – Want to do one learn how to do a Pull Up? Try these pull up variations and supplemental exercises!

how-to-do-a-pull-up

2. Travel Workouts – When we travel it can be hard to workout. The RipFit Trainer may be a tool you want to get if you are a frequent traveler. Here are 20 great exercises you can do when you travel for a full body workout. You can do them in your hotel room…or even at home!

travel-workouts

3. To be healthier, you need to move more during the day. A great way to move more each day is with stretches and exercises you can do at your desk. Try these 10 Desk Exercises.

desk-exercises

4. If you are a runner, cycler or simply sit at a desk all day, you may want to try these 10 Lower Body Foam Rolling Moves.

lower-body-foam-rolling-moves

5. The Pelvic Tilt – If you have LOW BACK PAIN, or WANT STRONGER ABS, you need to do the PELVIC TILT! No if, ands or buts about it!

pelvic-tilt-exercise

It all boils down to MINDSET

I often roll my eyes when I see quotes like this:

But today it got me to thinking about how much your success is completely and utterly dependent on your MINDSET.

Because if you want something enough, you will find a way…which is what, today, I interpreted the above fitspo to mean.

We make time for things that matter. We make time for things we want.

We prioritize things even when we are busy.

When you say you don’t have time to exercise, time to eat well, you are basically just saying those things aren’t a priority to you.

And honestly, that is your choice. They don’t have to be.

But if you want to make changes, if you want a different result than the one you are currently getting, you need to change your priorities and your mindset.

As Einstein says:

Seems to obvious yet, for some reason, most people do expect different results without changing their behaviors.

And maybe that is because often our diet and exercise programs merely focuses on new behaviors and not changing the mentally and mindset behind our current behaviors.

I’ve said it numerous times before, but I think that exercise can be empowering. I think it can change our mental attitude and make us into stronger, more confident people inside and outside of the gym.

But it isn’t as simple as just lifting weights and BAM! we are more confident.

It is about the positive self-talk we learn to do so that we can lift heavier.

It is about the strength we find because we learn how to mentally push ourselves further.

It is because in the gym we can learn a new mentality IF we take the time and don’t just go through the motions of exercising.

Because it isn’t enough to simply DO something. Mindless action isn’t enough.

You need to be intentional.

And I’m not even talking right now about designing workouts or eating according to your goals.

I’m talking about thinking through things and changing your mindset.

If you haven’t been getting results, you probably really haven’t changed anything. And if you haven’t changed anything it is because mentally nothing has changed.

You probably still have the same mindset.

The thing is, mindset is way harder to change than actions, but to truly change your behaviors in the long run, you need to change your mindset.

That is why you need to take a good look at yourself any time you want to start creating a program to work toward new goals.

Assess what has hindered you getting results before. Was it really the program or the fact that you made excuses?

Honestly….It was probably excuses.

And if it was excuses, what were your common excuses? Stress? Lack of time? Didn’t enjoy it? It was too hard?

Consider those excuses.

Now think of how you are going to OVERCOME them.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Plain and simple.

Did you lack motivation when you got stressed?

Could you then think of something to keep you extra motivated during times of stress?

Maybe a visual would help? Or getting friends involved. Or maybe simply having to log public would hold you accountable.

Or maybe simply it was creating something you could mentally prioritize. Like instead of going to the gym when you are stressed, you can put going for a walk ahead of simply going home and watching TV.

Or maybe you could make 15 minutes of working out at home a priority even if you can’t go to the gym.

The crazy thing is…All of these things will change your behaviors and your mindset.

They will get you moving in the right direction while changing how you prioritize and see things. They will create ways for you to mentally overcome the excuses and change your mindset.

Because success boils down to MINDSET.

switch-mindset

You could have the best laid plans, the perfect program out there, and it won’t work if you don’t have the right mindset and really get yourself to truly adhere to it and give it your all.

So if you want to achieve results this week, how are you going to change your mindset?

What keeps you motivated and has helped you prioritize working toward your goals?

The Posterior Chain Pyramid

Did this workout the other day and I must say…It was fabulous!

It uses one of my favorite moves the Barbell Hip Thruster. One tip though before you do thrusters…WRAP THE BAR WITH LOTS OF PADDING! haha

The Posterior Chain Pyramid

hip thruster

WARM UP
Roll out and stretch:
Hips
Quads
Glutes
Hamstrings
Back

ACTIVATION

Band walks or any quadruped moves, but make sure your glutes are feeling warm before you start the workout.

WORKOUT

Start with one rep of each exercise. The next round you do 2 reps…then 3…then 4…Up to 10 of each and then back down to 1. That means you are doing 100 reps of each exercise by the end of the workout. Use a challenging weight, knowing you will be doing 100 reps in total…That is LOTS of volume.

Also, rest only as needed but keep trying to move from one exercise to the next.

CIRCUIT:
Barbell Hip Thrusters
Airborne Lunges
Reverse Hypers
Cherry Bombs

COOL DOWN
Roll out and stretch:
Hips
Quads
Glutes
Hamstrings
Back

This is serious glute destruction. If you haven’t done high volume workouts before, don’t go as heavy. Pick a variation and weight that forces you to work but not have to spend lots of time resting.

You can either choose to finish the pyramid no matter how long it takes you or you can set a timer for 45 minutes and see how far you get in that time and try to improve from week to week.

If you feel your low back working and not your glutes, regress the moves and perform a core and/or glute activation exercise. You may also want to roll out.

Your low back shouldn’t be taking over when doing these moves.

What’s your favorite glute workout? Do you enjoy pyramids?

Two Simply Rules For Better Health

I get asked diet and exercise questions all day, every day…And I love it.

And what I’ve seen with these questions is that we love to overcomplicate things and focus on the details when the overall picture is still fuzzy and incomplete.

It is almost easier for us to hone in on one piece of the puzzle instead of first outlining all the basics.

We skip starting with the two most important rules and jump right into micromanaging a few very specific things.

I think we do this because it is EASY.

It is easier to focus on a few little details than it is to get the big picture in order.

For some reason it is easier to make dieting and exercising overly complicated than it is to focus on the basics.

Why this is the case?

Honestly I have no idea. It baffles me.

Because the truth of the matter is – being healthy is pretty simple.

But most likely we get stuck on the details because we want a quick fix. A simply fix. Or maybe it is because we want something to blame when we lose motivation and fail to reach our goals.

No matter what the reasoning is…We need to stop doing it.

Because really there are only two things out there you need to do to be healthy:

1. Eat whole natural foods.

2. BE ACTIVE.

Yup…two things. And really two very easy things.

You don’t need to starve yourself or deprive yourself. And you don’t need to spend hours in the gym.

You just need to eat whole natural foods and move around!

You don’t need to worry about macros, or types of protein or meal timing if your basic diet isn’t even in line.

Start with a focus on whole natural foods and then hash out the details.

Seriously….you aren’t going to draw a face starting with detailing out the nostril before you even know where the nostril fits on the face are you!?! I mean…I’m not artist but that just seems ridiculous!

Same goes for exercise. People claim all they don’t have time to workout, but what they are really saying is  “I don’t have time to spend hours in the gym like it seems I need to do to get into shape.”

And maybe that is simply their excuse to not workout because they don’t want to.

Because it is simply not the case.

You don’t need to spend hours in the gym or even go to a gym to be healthy.

You just need to be active!

Heck if you even get up and stretch and move around for 5 minutes every hour or so you are off to a good start! (Try these 10 Desk Exercises!)

If you even take your puppy for a walk in the mornings and afternoons, you are being more active than most.

Just first get moving than improve your activity so that it is helping you to reach your specific goals.

Don’t feel you have to jump right into an hour-long workout 6 days a week if you aren’t even currently moving for at least 15 minutes every day!

STOP OVERCOMPLICATING THINGS AND MAKING EXCUSES!

Start with the basics…Create an outline, a solid foundation and then, once that becomes habit, start working on the details.

Take Responsibility And Want It For Yourself

I’ve had to deal with this a lot as a trainer…I’ve had to deal with seeing the potential in someone, in investing a ton of time and energy into helping them succeed, only to see them fail because they didn’t truly want it for themselves.

Because no matter how hard I encourage, how many of the tools I give them, success boils down to one thing – How bad do YOU want it for YOURSELF?

Are you ready to take responsibility for your actions and make things happen?

Because no one else can want it for you. No one else can get you there.

No one else can help you stay on track or cause you to fall off.

You are completely in control whether or not you believe it…whether or not you want to take responsibility for the fact that only you can want and achieve your goals.

Taking responsibility is knowing that whether you succeed or fail is ALL UP TO YOU.

But it is hard to take responsibility because that means it is your fault if you fail.

It is way easier to blame external factors and make up excuses than it is to take responsibility and work hard for results.

It is way easier not to hold yourself accountable and to believe that things weren’t within your control.

The simple truth though is – YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR FATE.

Yea…Shit happens…But if you want something, you will find a way. If you fail, you will hold yourself accountable, take a look at your actions and make changes.

Because even though you can’t control everything or even plan for half of the stuff that happens, you can take responsibility for your actions and your reactions to life.

You can hold yourself responsible for how you handle situations and pick yourself up after you fall.

Success isn’t about perfection. It is about learning and growing and constantly improving. But to learn, grow and improve, you must believe you are in control. You must hold yourself accountable for the actions you take and the results, both good and bad, that occur.

Only you can truly make things happen for yourself.

It isn’t luck that makes people successful…It is freaking hard work and taking responsibility for their lives that makes them successful.

As they say….

Happy Friday! It’s Tabata Time!

I feel that often Tabata style workouts are overused. And people string like 20 exercise together using the intervals and overdo it.

HOWEVER, occasionally, I think Tabata can be integrated into your training routine.

For instance, yesterday I added in a Tabata style workout to force failure and burnout.

It was a short quick workout, but boy was it a doozey. Not every workout has to be an hour to get results.

Actually as I’ve said before, often shorter workouts get you way better results than spending hours in the gym.

If you are interested in a full-body burn out Tabata Workout, try the one below!

Tabata Time Workout

Set a timer for 8 rounds of 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest. Complete 8 rounds of those intervals on each exercise before moving on. Rest 1-2 minutes between exercises.

Make sure to complete as many reps in the 20 second intervals as possible. You do not get as much benefit from this workout if you rest during the work intervals. It is better to keep regress the move than to rest. It is all about doing as many repetitions as possible in the time allotted even if all you can do at the end is push ups standing against the wall.

The point is to reach failure and keep going!

EXERCISES:

20 seconds Push Ups
10 seconds Rest

1-2 minutes Rest

20 seconds Jump Squats
10 seconds Rest

1-2 minutes Rest

20 seconds Alternating Overhead Dumbbell Presses
10 seconds Rest

1-2 minutes Rest

20 seconds Rowing
10 seconds Rest

1-2 minutes Rest

20 seconds Balance Crunches
10 seconds Rest

Walk around and roll out and cool down.

As you fatigue, regress each movement so that you can keep moving the entire time. If you stop moving during the 20 second work intervals, you aren’t going to get as much out of the workout!

Because You Can Never Know Too Much

The moment you think you know everything, you are in trouble.

Because you can never know everything and the second you stop learning, you will be left behind.

That is why I’m constantly looking for things to enhance my training and workout routines. I always want to be learning and growing to make my workouts better and more efficient.

I mean…Why wouldn’t you want to be better?

Why wouldn’t you want to be more efficient or find something that works and makes your life even easier?

I would!

Here are some great exercises and tips to help you continue learning and growing this week!

1. Here are 10 Suspension Trainer Exercises to work your entire body. These exercises are all core focused and many of them will strengthen your backside. So if you are having neck, shoulder, back or hip problems, you need to try these suspension trainer moves.

suspension-trainer-exercises

2.I think one of the hardest areas of our body to work when we don’t really have any equipment is our back. Here are 5 Equipment-Free Bodyweight Back Exercises. All of these are must-do moves if you sit at a desk all day and want to remain injury free!

equpiment-free-back-exercises

3. The Deadlift is one of my favorite moves because it works your entire posterior chain, which, let’s face it, we all need to work because we sit way too much during the day. And the thing I love about deadlifts is there are a ton of variations to work your back and legs in different ways! Check out these deadlift variations.

deadlift-variations

4. Often when people want to work their core, they turn to crunches. And crunches can be “fun” but really, in general, they are pretty useless. This 30-Minute Core Workout, works the big muscles of your core and gets your heart beating to really burn some calories and create a strong core. It includes some of our favorite moves like the Turkish Get Up, Crawl with Pull Through and Sidewinders.

core-workout

5. If you’ve upped your mileage this summer or are training for a race, you need to make sure to take care of your body so you don’t get injured. These dynamic stretches for runners will help improve your mobility so that you stay injury free. These are quick and easy to do right before your run!

stretches for runners

6. Can you tell I’ve been very focused on upper back, shoulder and neck pain recently!?! Maybe because it is such a common problem since too many people sit hunched over a computer all day and then try to go workout without doing anything to first improve their posture (aka stretch and activate). Here are 5 great foam rolling moves you should be doing if you have a desk job.

foam rolling moves for upper back, neck and shoulder pain

7. And finally here are 25 Core Training Exercises. They are broken down by equipment so that you have bodyweight, slider, sandbag, and resistance band exercises.

core-training-exercises

What have you researched and learned recently to make you better? How are you constantly changing and growing?

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