Top Three Places to Roll for the Desk Worker

By: Nick Lape

rolling for the desk workerAs fitness professionals we see quite a few individuals who have jobs that may not necessarily be physically taxing. It’s the infamous desk job! They  spend countless hours staring at a computer screen, talking on the phone, or reading through documents all in the discomfort of their desk chair. Sitting for a long period of time can be stressful on the body in ways we can’t actually see. Now, does that mean you don’t feel what is happening to your body as you sit there? No. Of course you do! Your butt starts to fall asleep, your neck starts to hurt and your back starts to give you a bunch of trouble One day of this may not be so bad, but day after day can have a poor effect on your daily movements. Certain muscles are constantly firing and other muscles suffer from a lack of use. There are three hot spots that we see most often in individuals who have jobs that require them to sit for long periods of time. Don’t worry you will soon learn how to combat sitting with a foam roller and your choice of softball, baseball, and/or golf ball.

1. Chest

I’m going to start at the top of the body and work my way down. As you sit at a desk, your arms are usually just hanging out in front of you on the desk. If you do this long enough with a brain like the one we have, your posture starts sending signals. In this case, it will send the signal to tighten the top part of your chest (or the pec minor for you science-y people) and relax the upper back. A great way to fight against this, is a softball, baseball or golf ball (if you are into that kind of torture) and start to roll this area.

How do you roll it? It’s pretty simple, use whichever ball you’ve chosen and set it between your upper chest, just under the collar bone and in between the sternum and front side of the shoulder joint. Rolling up and down and side to side can start to loosen up the muscles attached in there as well as bring some good blood flow back into the area. One thing you do not want to do at this point is to roll over the collar bone or your sternum. Not for really any other purpose other than it will not feel very good at all. Make sure we are sticking to the soft tissues. Any time you encounter an area that is specifically sore or makes you do a double take spend more time on that area. Remember to breath in and out through your nose.  If you hold your breath you will not get the most out of rolling.

2. Hips

The second area of the body I want to focus on is the hips, both the back and front. As you sit, you start to decrease blood flow to your back side. The muscles become more and more inactive the longer you sit on them. In turn when you roll on these areas with a foam roller they may seem “tight”, when actually they are simply inactive. They have lost blood flow and therefore don’t work near as well as they should.

Another part of the hips that needs attention is going to be the hip flexors, or the front side of the hip. The same way that sitting your butt may turn off the muscles, as you sit your hip flexors are in a constantly flexed position. So naturally, what happens? Your body just keeps them tight. It’s the position they know the most, so why not, right? Rolling just underneath your hip bone all the way to the knee is a huge key in keeping your hips mobile. This area tends to be quite tender as you roll over it. Being sure to breathe and relax into the foam roller will allow the roller to do the work that it needs to do. It can be tough to relax while rolling this area but try as best as you can. Some times coupling a glute activation exercise, like hip lifts, and rolling this area with something more intrusive, like a softball or baseball, can actually start to alleviate some minor back tenderness issues as well.

3. Feet

Lastly, the feet need to be rolled. You may ask why? All they do is sit on the floor as you sit there. BUT, with hips flexed and circulation being cut off to the butt, your feet can suffer from some of those same issues. Muscles aren’t being used that help hold up the arch, and the blood flow can start to be minimal. Let me ask, have you ever stood up from the seated position that you’ve been in for a long time and had sore feet. Mostly on the bottoms? That is a tell tale sign that you have been sitting for too long. This is where a golf ball can really help. Even keeping one at your desk would be a great idea. The connective tissues in your body actually start in the balls of your feet. Which is why sometimes if you have a tension headache rolling you feet can help (head bones connected to the neck bone, etc.). Maintaining a supple mid foot as you sit can even help issues as painful as plantar fasciitis.

As fitness professionals we have the luxury of being able to move more than the average people during a work day. Our “executive athletes” spend their week sitting hunched over at a desk without many opportunities to get up, get out, and move around. This makes it hard for them to be at 100% during their recreational time if no action is taken to eliminate these hot spots. If you are one of these people and you are reading this right now I would highly suggest investing in a foam roller along with a softball, baseball or golf ball. If a softball or golf ball is too hard and causes too much discomfit try a tennis ball. Start being pro-active in your attempt to eliminate these “Desk Worker Hot Spots” and watch your free time become that much more fun.

 

Progress Your Push Up

Progress Push UpFor many individuals, being able to do a push up from the floor is a huge accomplishment. However, it is a goal that may require some work outside the gym. Before you begin to work on your push up you need to be able to do a plank in good form. This means if you placed a stick on your back, your head, upper back, and butt would all be touching the stick. Setting up your push up in good form is crucial.  If your set up is not correct, you are starting your push up with a disadvantage. Once you are set up correctly, good form throughout the push up is key. Poor form can lead to pain and/or injury. It is better to do fewer push ups in good form than to continue in poor form. See how to get set up and push up in good form. Nick will also show you different progressions  you can do at home to get to perfect your push up and do them form ground. Enjoy  seeing your core and arm strength improve!

Working Out on the Road

By: Mike Klaus

CoachWhen you walk into your hotel “fitness center” and see a depressing weight room, DON’T WALK OUT! You took the time to pack your gym clothes, put them on before hitting the breakfast buffet and readied your play list on your smart phone.  One look at the sad weight rack , tiny room, and carpeting and all motivation seems to be lost. Where are the battle ropes, kettlebells, and suspension trainers? Don’t worry, Below are several workouts to make the best out of this situation. (Be sure to click on the title to see the video.)

As always consult with a doctor before starting any exercise program and complete the workouts at your own risk. Don’t forget your warm up either. Breathing, foam rolling, side lying windmill, dying bug, glute bridge, hinge, squat, and jumping jacks could be a great warm up.

If you are looking for a a way to keep track of your work and rest during a workout, download Interval Timer from the app store. It’s free! You can play music and use the timer.

Core Complex 1

Low Plank – Side Plank – 1 Leg Bridge

Interval Timer Set Up

  • Sets: 3
  • High: 20-30 seconds
  • Low: 20-30 seconds
  • Repeat- this is up to you. Give yourself a minute rest if you choose to repeat.

Core Complex 2

Bear Hold – Suitcase Hold – Flutter Kick

Interval Timer Set Up

  • Sets: 3
  • High: 20-30 seconds
  • Low: 20-30 seconds
  • Repeat- this is up to you. Give yourself a minute rest if you choose to repeat.

Circuit

  1. Goblet Squat
  2. Bench Row
  3. Plank Knee In’s
  4. Lateral Lunge
  5. Push Up

Interval Timer Set Up

  • Sets: 5
  • High: 30
  • Low: 30
  • Repeat: Yes
  • Number of Cycles: 4-5
  • Rest Time: 30 seconds

Finishers

Burpee / Mountain Climbers

Skater / Pledge Plank

Crawl / Flutter Kick

Interval Timer Set Up

  • Sets: 8
  • High: 10 seconds
  • Low: 15 seconds
  • Repeat: No

It can be easy to think of reasons to not workout when you are travel, but it is a lot easier to stay in your groove than it is to

8 Reasons to Train with Kettlebells

By: Mike Klaus RKC

kettlbell training, Turkish Get Up, Kettle swing

  1. Melt FatKettlebells are a great tool to burn fat and build muscle. A recent study showed that kettlebells are one of the most efficient training routines, burning up to 20.3cal/min. That is an incredible 1200 calories an hour! Talk about a lot of bang for your buck!
  2. Shape the Butt –Have you checked yourself out in the mirror lately and noticed a droopy or saggy butt? Kettlebells are great for giving you a lift. The kettlebell snatch, swing and clean are hip dominant movements that require explosiveness from your largest muscle, the gluteus maximus.
  3. No Time, No Problem! –There is no need to spend endless hours in the gym when using a kettlebell in order to see results. Kettlebell training is a high-intensity strength and cardio workout that forces the body to build muscle and burn fat fast. You can get a great kettlebell workout in as little as 15 minutes (including the warm up). You really can’t use time as an excuse with this type of training.
  4. Injury Prevention – Not only does kettlebell training build an armor like layer of muscle, but this form of training focuses more on movements. Bodybuilding focuses more on targeting singular muscles as opposed to groups of muscles. Because kettlebell training enhances movement efficiency, injuries are greatly reduced by fixing the compensations and imbalances in the body.
  5. Amp Up Your Power Output – Weekend warrior? Athlete? Who doesn’t want to lead their team (or league) in scoring, hit more home runs in their softball league, or drive a golf ball as far as Happy Gilmore? The explosive movements in Kettlebell training develop your fast twitch muscles which in turn helps you have a quicker reaction time. Many of the movements in kettlebell training cannot be performed slowly forcing you to develop a quality known as power-endurance. Power-endurance is your ability to sustain fast muscular contractions over an extended period of time. This is commonly the determining factor in winning or losing in sporting competitions.
  6. Eliminate Weaknesses –Your greatest strength may be your greatest weakness! Most people who train have a favorite muscle group like chest, biceps, or triceps that they tend to train more often. This leads to muscle groups in your body that are seldom used during training. With full body kettlebell exercises, you tend to train your major muscle groups more efficiently without isolation because smaller muscles throughout your body are engaged as well.  Once the weak parts of your body are strengthened, your workouts become much more effective.
  7. Mentally Stimulating – Bored to death jogging slowly on the hamster wheel? Do you find yourself “going through the motions” in the gym? A multiple movement kettlebell complex may be just what you need. Hit muscles you forgot you had by performing multiple movements quickly using one piece of equipment… the kettlebell!
  8. “Vice” Grip Strength –The weight of the kettlebell lies outside of your hand, unlike the traditional barbells and dumbbells, taxing your grip and developing greater forearm strength. The design of the kettlebell also adds another unique component to your grip training. Since the kettlebells center of gravity is usually in motion, your grip training becomes a combination of dynamic and static muscular contractions to help control the fluctuating center of mass. Why might you need grip strength? If you want to carry all the groceries in one trip or carry your luggage without dropping it, then you need grip strength. What if you never wanted to ask your spouse or kid to open a jar? You need grip strength.

What are Your Intentions?

By: Nick Lape

Intention“I promise I did it with the best of intentions!” How often have we used this line in our own personal lives? We use it to explain a decision we’ve made and/or start an apology. In the social sense, I’d say this term gets used quite a bit. But, what if we started using it in the gym in regards to our own fitness and wellness? Do we actually have the best of intentions for ourselves while we workout in the gym? What I’m getting at is that if we are not at the gym for a purpose or we are not there with the intention of doing the absolute best for ourselves, then what are we doing there?

First, let’s define intentional or just intent. The best definition I’ve found from Merriam-Webster is, “A usually clearly formulated or planned aim or purpose.” If we have intent, and I mean REAL intent then not having a plan or purpose when we walk into the gym becomes pointless and your want to change might not actually exist. That plan starts with a general goal or destination like, “I want to lose ten pounds,” and trickles all the way down to each singular movement that leads you to this destination.

I can hear the silent questions now, “Nick, how I can have intention in one singular movement that usually only takes 30 or so seconds?” And that’s exactly how I want you to think! As a matter of fact thinking is the only way to have intention in each movement or exercise that you perform in the gym. You need to know where your head is positioned, your shoulders, your hips, your knees, and your feet. Once you begin being aware of your position and you start moving with the intention of allowing your body to master movement, your plan, or destination if you will, becomes that much easier to reach. But, with each new movement has to come an additional thought process in order to master it.

I have had the pleasure within the last few years to watch client after client have the proverbial light bulb go off in their head and finally realize why they walked into the gym. These are the people that you can see truly immersing their brain in each movement pattern they are taught. The ones that stop for a second and say, I’m tired of walking in this mindset of, “Maybe someday,” and start thinking that that someday is going to be today. They start living intentionally! Each movement, each leaf of spinach, each post workout shake and even each perfectly performed split squat (because we all know how much we love them) becomes their intent. They are giving their bodies a chance to be great and their minds a chance to be at peace. And, they will continue to strive to improve. THAT is being intentional. Don’t just promise your family and friends that you have the best intentions, prove it to YOURSELF!!

Get Up Get Down

By: Suzanne Klaus RD, LD, CPT

Get up get down, stay your, move wellThe Get Up Get Down is a great exercise and is actually practical. Think about how many times you get up and get down each day. Do you have kids, grandkids, nieces, or nephews? If so, being able to get up off the floor with ease is important.   See a few different progressions of this exercise!

Turkish Get Up

Turkish Get UpInstructed by: Mike Klaus RKC

The Turkish Get Up (TGU) is one of the best total body exercises as it helps to integrate every muscle in your body. It progresses from lying to standing with a kettlebell. Although, this movement should be completed perfectly several times without a weight before a kettlebell is added. You should be able to balance a floor slide or your shoe on your hand for the entire movement. It’s ability to improve shoulder flexibility and stability, train the body as one unit, and improve communication between the brain and muscles are only a few of the benefits of frequently performing TGUs.

See how it’s done!

The Answer that Destroyed Your Results

Nick Lape BS, CFMS

Answer Honestly for Better resultsI am a trainer. As you can imagine my life revolves around the gym and attempting to help people get into the best shape of their lives. I get to help people accomplish their goals and live the best life possible. Part of that is helping my clients set goals. And, I follow up with them.  I ask them lots of questions. How are you going to achieve this goal? Why is it important to you? What did you eat for breakfast? How many hours of sleep did you get? Now, there are hundreds of answers for each of these questions. And, most people know what the answer is SUPPOSED to be, however, it seems as though the real answer is always hiding someplace.

Whenever, we ask questions especially related to our health, there are a series of emotions tied to those questions. We don’t want to be judged. We want to feel as though we have it all together, especially when we are around others. If I ask the question, “How many hours of sleep did you get last night,” I sometimes get the answer, “Oh about seven or so…” However, the person really got five or six hours. Why did that person feel like he/she had to up the number? Was it to look better or maybe to feel better? Just because you know what the answer is supposed to be doesn’t mean you have to let the little voice inside lie about it. What do you gain? Nothing, you are actually hurting yourself.

 In the fitness world, at least in my world, I ask people these questions all the time. I hear a lot of different answers and my biggest piece of advice is to not dance around the real answer. You may know what your fitness coach wants to hear. But, if you can’t tell him/her the real answer, how can they help you maximize your life? That is what we are here for. We are trying to help you find the goals you have for yourself and plan to achieve them. Pay attention over the next few days, even hours, to how many questions you get asked, and how many times you blurt out what you know is supposed to be the answer, when really the real answer might not be so great.

For most of us, fitness and health is a journey. If you are truly invested in it then you’ve probably read article after article about it. So, more often than not we have a decent handle on what the answers are to some of the more general questions regarding fitness. However, those general questions are the things that can lead to more specific goals or gains or losses or whatever it is you are focusing on during your fitness journey. You may know what the answers are supposed to be, but tell the real one and don’t slow your journey to success. Be honest with yourself and the person who is trying to help you succeed.

Mobility and Fat Loss

By: Nick Lape BS, CFMS

Mobility and Fat Loss

Watch Nick talk about this fat loss and mobility!

If you have ever been around a gym atmosphere there is a good chance that you have heard the term, mobility. But, what does it mean? A dictionary will tell you that it is the body’s ability to move a joint freely through a range of motion. While that is a great way of putting it, one way I like to talk about it is having the proper flexibility and stability to move a joint through a range of motion. If you do not have proper mobility and are working out, you may not be losing fat like you thought you should. Rather watch a video to learn about this? Click here!

Before we get into fat lost, let’s learn about how we get mobility? It’s through proper programming that has been designed to help a specific person with specific movement issues. Does that mean a program is all stretching and corrective exercise? Absolutely…NOT.  Our first line of defense against immobility is soft tissue work, or foam rolling, or any other massage-like exercises you can think of. But, that isn’t all. As I mentioned above, stability, or strength, plays a huge role in keeping joints mobile as well. That may seem contradictory, but stretching a muscle as well as activating a muscle through simple unloaded movement can help make a muscle pliable. These would be things such as corrective exercises that have been designed to use flexibility and stability to prepare a joint for further manipulation. Either way we are bringing awareness and blood flow to the area by using the combination of both. When both flexibility and stability begin working together in a joint, you have more than likely created better mobility within that joint.

Now for the meat and taters of why you are all reading this article. How could that last paragraph possibly have anything to do with fat loss? Well here is the rundown. If you fail to do soft tissue work and break down possible physical stresses that your body is holding, then there is a good chance your range of motion will be lacking. When this happens your joints will NOT be able to continue moving in a manner that they should or that would be beneficial for strength training. Outside of the gym these joints tend to stiffen up, which makes it hard to move and can even cause pain through other movements. When you are in the gym with joints like this, strength training becomes difficult because of the lack of range of motion. This is when compensations can occur and your body gets out of alignment and those minor aches and pains can eventually get worse.

We all know that in order to burn fat we must challenge the body. We actually need to lift weights and strengthen the body. That’s why we have calisthenics, dumbbells, kettlebells, etc. However, without proper range of motion, or mobility, you will be unable to recruit as many muscle fibers and fewer nerves will fire to the area that you are focusing on. When few nerves fire and fewer muscle fibers work you can actually fail to spike your metabolism in a way that will cause what we like to call the after burn. In other words, your body won’t work for you.

So let’s summarize, less mobility → less range of motion → more pain → lack of muscle fibers working → less neurons firing → less working metabolism → LESS FAT LOSS!!! Let’s not forget cortisol. If you are in pain your body will release cortisol, which will make it a lot harder to burn fat. Now we also know that you can add more and more and more and more exercises to your weekly and daily life in hopes that you will burn fat and lose weight. But, if you have poor mobility (along with a poor diet, lots of stress, and minimal sleep) results will be neat impossible. Instead of adding more exercises focus on performing a few correctly and building that range of motion. Include all aspects of fitness into your life; mobility, flexibility, stability, along with proper sleep, eat and stress management and you will get results. If you don’t, then it takes going back and reevaluating each of these aspects and changing accordingly. Don’t forget watch Nick’s video on this topic!