Why Lift Heavy?

Lift heavy weightsBy: Nick Lape ACSM, FMS

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I love to lift heavy weights. I have fought gravity and won many times. I have also fought gravity and lost just as many times, well okay, probably more like twice as often as I have succeeded. If I didn’t fail those times, I feel as though I would get bored with lifting weights. Failure allows me to compete with myself. In my mind and even in the minds of some of my clients, it creates this excitement of, “How far can I push my body?” While heavy lifting should be done in moderation, there are some great benefits to testing your body and making it stronger.

First, there tends to be this thought process that lifting heavy weights is dangerous. While that is very true if done improperly, focusing on this only increases the fear of doing it. Every time I lift heavy weights, I view it as practice. Put your body under that much stress and you begin to teach your body things. You learn. You move. You continue to teach yourself how to stabilize certain areas and mobilize others, as well as what force is needed to lift a certain weight. You truly turn your body into a one piece machine by connecting your brain with every part of your body. If it doesn’t work as one, you put yourself at risk of injuring yourself or failing at a lift attempt. The biggest thing to take away is the fact that you are teaching your body how to take on an obstacle that requires the entirety of your body and mind to overcome.

Second, I want to reiterate how competitive lifting heavy weights can be both inter- and intra-personally. Being able to compete with your self can push you to the point that failure is no longer an option. It’s always fun to watch the numbers on your lift card or program card go up. When it happens you begin to wonder what it might take in order to get to whatever goal you have. Now take everything from above and add a crowd, or a weight lifting buddy, or simply someone you are quietly competing with from across the gym. For some it starts a fire, a fire that can’t be extinguished easily by simply lifting alone.

Lastly, and probably most obvious is sheer strength. If you aren’t challenging the body then there is a good chance you aren’t getting stronger. When you aren’t getting stronger, you aren’t building lean muscle fibers, when you aren’t building muscle fibers you aren’t maximizing your metabolism to burn fat. Lifting heavy things can be the ultimate test of your strength. However, LADIES, I will put it to rest, yes some of you are made to gain more muscle mass than others. HOWEVER, it is scientifically impossible, without the help of anabolic boosters and a ridiculous diet, for you to get bulky. So, cast that worry aside right now. GENTLEMEN, if you want those big, attractive legs, arms, back, etc., and you are NOT lifting heavy weights, you may be wasting your time in the gym. Does it have to be every day? Nope, and it shouldn’t. But, if it isn’t at least one or maybe two days a week, bodily changes aren’t going to happen in the way that you want them to.

For years I’ve lifted heavy weights. I have learned so much from myself and others. And, that is exactly how you start heavy weightlifting. You learn. You teach. And you learn and teach some more. If you aren’t challenging your body, how can you possibly make it better? The answer, you can’t! Lifting heavy weights can be fun, competitive, and beneficial to your overall health. If someone says, “But it’s dangerous,” reply with, “So is being weak.” Our bodies don’t last forever. While we still have the ability, challenging it to do more (again in moderation and proper form) is the only way that we find our limits and surpass them. It is the only way we can learn to set lifting goals in the gym. It is the only way to guarantee that we have a strong healthy body for years to come. That is why we lift heavy things.

Getting Back to the Gym

By: Nick Lape

Back to the GymWe are starting to notice that the days are once again getting shorter. The chaos of barbeques, vacations, and float trips is winding down. School is about it start. Summer is drawing to a close making August the perfect time to get back into a healthy routine.

It is very easy to lose track of your health in the summer. I mean why not, you had a beach vacation, acted as chauffer for your kids to and from the pool and countless little league games, and appeared at your families’ and friends’ barbeques. Skipping out on the gym, over eating, and/or overindulging in sweets and alcohol could have easily been pushed to the side. But, your health can’t stop just because of summer. The cycle has to continue or start again. Before you know it fall and winter will be here along with holidays and treats and soon after spring a summer again. Will you be prepared? Start now. You don’t have to go all in right away. Just start doing something. Make sure that you can set time aside to plan your week.

Planning seems to be a word that, when it comes to fitness, gets lost in the noise. People want things now. Well the most successful people get their ‘now’ by planning for it. What are you going to do to plan for it? One of the best quotes I’ve heard was from a colleague of mine. He said, “Next year’s beach body is built this winter.” Building takes time. Get that plan set.

Sometimes getting back in the gym after a good long summer can be tough. You feel sluggish from all the sleeping in and greasy food you may have eaten. One of the best places to start is to try and reset that internal clock. Start going to bed at a decent time for the prime seven to nine hours of sleep and things can start to fall back into place. Once you have that set then start to attack the nutrition side of things and get back in the gym. It can be hard to hit the ground running sometimes, so remember the small changes make a difference.

With the summer ending it’s time to get back into the gym. Make a plan and set goals. Start your summer 2016 training now. Get back to the choosing healthy foods and start getting regular sleep. All of this can help jump start you back into health for the upcoming fall and winter and eventually spring and summer months. Back to School? Back to the gym!!

Take the Time

By: Nick Lape ACSM, FMS

Prevent Injury Take Time for  YouAbout 7 years ago I decided to change my path. I was in college at Missouri State. As a matter of fact, I was sitting in Dr. Runke’s Individual and Dual Sports class as a Physical Education Major. It was that day that I decided to change my major to Exercise Science. I wanted to teach people how to move, how to be healthy, but without doing it in a classroom. Why, you ask? I was an athlete plagued by injury. There was not a year in school that went by the something didn’t go wrong. Six months prior to sitting in that class, my baseball career ended with a shoulder surgery. This surgery could have been prevented, seeing as it was my second one. It was one that stemmed from an injury that I sustained my senior year of high school.

You see, after that first surgery, I didn’t take my rehab seriously. Yes, my shoulder healed, but it was like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off again. I didn’t let it heal property nor did I seek more help when I realized something was still wrong. I was going to play college ball. What did it matter? Well, it turns out that it meant everything. I didn’t listen to the doctor. I didn’t listen to the therapists. And, I played through the minor aches and pains until I could play no more. Let me tell you folks, NEVER is a long consequence for something that could have taken just a few months to rehab back to perfect health.

Now as a fitness professional I see things like this every day. An ache here, a pain there and an “I’m going for it anyway,” attitude. Most of these incidents don’t lead to much worse damage.  However, I have come across people that have had a minor ache or pain turn into a debilitating injury that required serious medical attention, surgeries, etc. Little did these people know that taking a few days off to seek preventative measures would have been well worth the time compared to the recoveries they then had to face.

One example that I see all too often is improper deadlift form. This can lead to ‘tweaking’ the back, which can then lead to a steady ache or pain, and eventually (and I know from experience) disc bulges and hernias in the spine. Once you reach the point of compromising the make-up of the spine with the latter of those three issues, you are in for a painful recovery. The early warning aches and pains should have been your first sign that you needed to seek out professional help AND to give your spine a REST until you can do so. If you end up prolonging this, you may go too far and your deadlifting days could be over.

I don’t bring these things up to scare people. That is not my intention. However, it took me losing quite a bit my first year of college to realize that pain is not normal. Pain is your brain and body telling you that something is wrong. Seeking medical or clinical help can keep things from becoming larger problems. The only problem that I see is that when a doctor or therapist says not to do something, people start making exceptions not realizing they could be making the problem worse. A doctor’s, a therapist’s, and yes even a trainer’s goal is not to make you mad by keeping you from doing something. Instead, they are trying to keep a short road to recovery from turning into a long one. Take it from me, TAKE THE TIME and keep yourself from thinking about the woulda-coulda-shouldas.

Kettlebell Snatch: The Best Total Body Exercise

By Mike Klaus RKC, FMS

Kettlebell SnatchThe kettlebell snatch is the best total body exercise and my favorite kettlebell movement. There are few exercises that simultaneously increase your muscular strength, endurance, and cardiovascular health.  It requires explosive power as your hips thrust the kettlebell in the air. The movement starts as a one-arm kettlebell swing, but ends up overhead by way of swing, pull, press. Click here to see a video.

You can burn maximal calories with the snatch. The American Council of Exercise enlisted the help of John Porari Ph.D., Chad Schnettler M.S., Carl Foster Ph.D. and Mark Anders to look at the number of calories burned during a kettlebell workout as well as the how much of an aerobic workout kettlebells provide. In this study participants spent 20 minutes performing six kettlebell snatches in 15 seconds followed by a 15 second rest switching arms after each rest. After the 20-minute workout and a five-minute cool down, the number of calories burned aerobically and anaerobically was measured. It was determined that 20.2 calories were burned each minute. That is equivalent to running a 6-minute mile! And, unless you are running 6-minute miles or cross country skiing uphill at a fast pace, you won’t find an exercise to match that number of calories burned.

It is a great cardiovascular workout. The same study as above monitored heart rate of the participants as they completed the 20-minute workout. The mean percent heart rate for the participants was 93% of max heart rate.

Even a moderate weight adds up to a significant work load very quickly. Twenty snatches every minute with a 24kg (52.8lb) bell, standard for a male, adds up to 2400kg (5,280lbs) of load overhead in five minutes. In order to match this on the jerk press (another overhead movement), he would have to do 3 sets of 8 reps with 220 lbs. A 12kg (26.4 lbs) bell is a standard weight for a female performing a kettlebell snatch. If she did twenty snatches every minute with a 12kg (26.4lb) bell it would add up to 1,200kg (2,640 lbs). She would have to jerk press 110 pounds for 3 sets of 8 reps to match that total work load. As you can see the snatch can definitely make it easier to increase your work load.

It is easy on the joints. There is no pounding of the joints in a kettlebell snatch. Your feet remain on the ground the entire time. The weight is distributed over your core, arm, hips, and legs.

No time-no problem! Since the kettlebell snatch is a total body exercise and is so explosive, a quick 10 minute of snatches will leave you feeling like you got a great workout. If you burn 20.2 calories per minute with kettlebell snatches, you can finish your 10-minute workout having burned 202 calories. If you compare this to running at a pace of 5 miles per hour (12-minute mile) according to the Harvard Health Publications a 155 pound person would burn 99 calories in 10 minutes. That is less than half of the calories you would burn if you were snatching a kettlebell.

It forces your “inner athlete” to come out. Like nothing else, the snatch has proved to me that almost anybody can develop their fast twitch muscle fibers. Like its name suggests, fast twitch fibers are the ones we use to make quick movements. Moving explosively keeps you young; it keeps you active. For those who are not necessarily worried about power in respect to athletic performance, it can help with reaction time to prevent falls.

It’s a safe option for going overhead. Most people have limited overhead mobility. The snatch not only gives you a safe option to train overhead, but can also help correct poor movement patterns. When properly taught the swing, pull, push movement allows the kettlebell to go overhead without the grunting and grinding typically associated with pushing weight overhead.

As you can see there are many benefits to the kettlebell snatch. However, it does require proper technique and form. Please do not attempt to do a kettlebell snatch without instruction and supervision on good form. RKC Certified trainer Mike Klaus

would be happy to teach you proper form.  You can even attend his kettlebell classes where you can build muscle and burn fat doing the kettlebell snatch among other great kettlebell exercises.