5 Benefits to 5am Workouts

By; Cati Davis CPT

There are few things better than starting off your day with an awesome workout. Cati, one of our 5am FIT Camp coaches personally loves to raise and shine at an early hour. Check out some reasons why she is such a big fan of the 5am workout!

  1. Build routine

We all know our body thrives off of routine. Waking up for a 5am workout can help you build routine. Having a set “appointment”  will help prevent hitting the snooze button in the mornings. and begin to head to the gym to get in your workout for the day. 

 

  1. More energy and focus for the day

When we exercise hormones known as endorphins are released.  These endorphins can trigger a positive feeling in your body, which can then lead to a great start to the work day. Working out helps clear your mind and set the standards for your day.

 

  1. Don’t skip it, dominate it

Have you ever scheduled a workout on your calendar for an evening after work? Sounds great at the time, right? That’s until, your boss asks you to stay late to finish a project, or better yet, co-workers ask if you want to do happy hour after work. Or maybe, your energy is depleted from the day, the couch is calling your name, and your favorite trashy tv show is on tonight.  Set the alarm a few minutes earlier in the morning to get that 5am workout in.  That way, if Suzie from 3 cubicles over wants to hang out, your schedule is free and your workout is already done for the day!

 

  1. Better night’s sleep

Back to Endorphins! When you exercise, your body excretes those energy boosting hormones.  Gaining that energy and trying to go to bed after a workout can cause for a hard time falling asleep and a restless night. This is where the 5 am workout comes into play. Your workout is done for the day and when 9 or 10 pm rolls around, your body is telling you to get some good rest for the night. This can also help build routine and make the morning a little easier to wake after a good night’s rest.

 

  1. Eating habits and hydration

Getting that 5 am workout in can help set healthy eating standards and adequate hydration for the day. Most likely you aren’t eating a strawberry filled glazed doughnut before or after  your morning run or heading to FIT Camp. You want to get a good meal that fuels your body for your day, not drag you down. You are also grabbing that bottle of water before leaving the house, which is a great way to start hydrating early in the day and continue it throughout  with water intake. Starting your day with a healthy balanced breakfast is going to help keep you going for the rest of the day with choosing better eating habits.

If you would like to make the change and be part of the #5amClub, we would love to have you! If you are not yet part of the Forward Fitness family, email Suzanne at Suzanne@ForwardFitnessSTL.com. She will be happy to get you set up to rock your 5am workouts!

Re-Centering Your Body: Ribs Down

Re-centering Your BodyHave you wondered why we start our workouts with restorative breathing, especially those last few breaths that are in through your noise and out through your mouth? Or, have you wondered why the “ribs down” cue is so important? For those of us who have the infamous desk job and feel constantly stressed, watch Nick’s video on how breathing and posture can help!

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!

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.

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!

Five Tips to Stay Healthy this Summer

By: Suzanne Doerries RD, LD, CPT

Attend the summer BBQs, but leave the extra weight behind.

Attend the summer BBQs, but leave the extra weight behind.

BBQs, pool parties, bonfires, vacations, and trips to the local ice cream parlor can become quite frequent during the summer. All of these activities can make it easy to overeat or choose foods that will not help us reach our goals on a more frequent basis.

Listen to your Hunger Satisfaction Scale. I can’t emphasize how important this is. If you are in tune with your body’s hunger scale, you will know if you are physically hungry or if you want to eat out of boredom, stress, social pressure, happiness, sadness, or anger. This is a scale from one to 10. If you rate yourself a one that means you are starving. A 10 means you are stuffed and never want to think about food again. You are physically uncomfortable due to the amount of food consumed. Three is physically hungry. Six is physically satisfied. The bottom line is: eat when you are physically hungry and stop when you are physically satisfied. If you wait to eat until you are starving unhealthy food choices and overeating become common. Eating when you are physically hungry instead of starving will allow you to be more in control of your food choices. It will also allow you to pay more attention to your body and stop when you are physically satisfied verses stuffed. Use this all the time, but especially when put in social situations surrounding food.

Wait to go back for seconds. It takes your body 15-20 minutes to catch up to what you just put in it. If you go back for seconds immediately you will probably overeat. Eating slowly can give your body some time to catch up to what you are putting in it.

Make a plate. It never fails, when you are at a BBQ there is an overwhelming amount of food. It can be easy to stand at the appetizer table and take down a bowl of buffalo dip and chips. Before you know it you are stuffed, but still eat dinner and dessert. To avoid this, make a plate keeping your hunger signals in mind. Try to make half your plate veggies and a quarter protein. Sit at a table to enjoy your plate. If you decided you it is going to be a rare occasion where you indulge in a sweet treat or salty snack make it part of that part and keep your hunger signals in mind.

Drink water. If you are going to have an alcoholic beverage or beverage with added sugar, drink one glass of water before going to get a refill. This will help to decrease your alcohol intake and/or calories coming from beverages. These are empty calories that are not nourishing your body in a positive manner.

Don’t skip your workouts. With the nice weather and enticing pools, summer can be an easy time to put the gym on the back burner. However, one missed week can easily lead to a second missed week and so on. Set your schedule up for success. If you know you are not going to work out after work, schedule your training sessions for the morning or lunch time. If you are on vacation and you will not be active or walking countless miles around a new city ask your trainer to write you a workout that you can do in your hotel.

Which of these five tips are you already doing? Which one will you add to your next summer event?

Mandatory Monday

By: Mike Klaus RKC, FMS

MondayWhat is your opinion of Monday? It is typically seen as the worst day of the week, the day most people dread. However, there are some who see Mondays as a springboard start to a productive and successful week. No matter what your profession is, you have an option to stew in misery or make the very best out of each day and opportunity. The same is true with health and fitness. Imagine the difference in your week if you do or do not workout on Monday. Are you more likely to get more workouts in? How would you sleep that week? What about your food choices? Would your mood be better?

For the most part, gyms are full on Mondays. This is a good thing! These are people who are getting a jump start on their week. This is a practice I whole heartedly believe in. Health and fitness does not happen overnight, it is a process. The work has to be put in and like anything else, getting started is the key. There are many benefits to making your Monday workout “mandatory.” Here are my top 5 reasons why you MUST train on Monday!

  1. You are more likely to train throughout the week. After starting your week with a productive workout, odds are you will continue that trend.
  2. Sleep improves. Mondays are usually packed with tasks. Having 45 minutes to an hour in a workout where you don’t think about work or other stressors will help to ease your mind. You will also be physically tired and in need of recovery.
  3. Nutrition will more likely be a priority. It has been proven in studies that people who work out make more of an effort to eat better. Are you more likely to choose fettuccini alfredo and rolls for dinner or grilled chicken with roasted veggies and goat cheese and beet salad?
  4. Your mood improves. Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you feel good. A morning workout can start your day off right. An evening workout can help you burn off steam. Also, in my opinion it is a great tool to help with depression or anger. Do yourself and everybody the favor of talking your aggression out on the iron!
  5. Erase a weekend that was less than optimal for your health. Did you put down a couple of cocktails? Were queso dip and chips  on the menu for dinner? Work that wild or lazy weekend off!

Make your Monday workout mandatory and set yourself up for success the rest of the week!

Warm It Up and Cool It Down

Nick Lape ACSM, FMS

Beautiful woman doing stretching exerciseAs far back as just about anyone can remember, especially in places like your elementary school P.E. class, we have been taught to warm up before activities were done. It wasn’t long after that we started learning about something called a cool down. It is no different now than it was 15, 20, or even 30 years ago. They are absolutely essential parts of making sure that your body is ready for what you are about to put it through and then ready to recover afterwards.

 We all remember having that one teacher who made sure you stretched before the class started. A classic example would be the hurdle, or runner’s stretch. And while stretching does have its place, we have come a long way from static stretching. Nowadays we know that using dynamic movement is probably the biggest key to unlocking the body before strength training, and even cardiovascular training. If I had a dollar for every person that I’ve seen not warm up and say, “Eh, I’ll be fine,” and then ‘tweaked’ something in that workout, I would have, well, a lot more money than I do now.

One part that some people don’t understand isn’t so much the fact that you are moving your body through ranges of motion, but the fact that you are connecting your brain neurologically to the different joints, bones, and tissues involved in each movement. If your brain is asleep, especially you morning gym goers, it is imperative to make sure that you wake it up with dynamic movement patterns before you start adding large amounts of weight.

There is always one question that goes along with the whole ‘brain’ explanation. Why? The best explanation that I have is to think about when you first roll out of bed. Is the first thing you think of doing a deadlift or stretching REAL big to get your body going? I highly doubt it. If you didn’t stretch, you wouldn’t break up connective tissues that get stiff while you sleep. Same thing goes for a workout. If the first thing you think of when you get to the gym is doing heavy deadlifts and nothing else you set yourself up for failure.

The second part of this is the cool down. The same way you get your body warmed up is almost the same way you want to cool down. Taking your body through some very low intensity dynamic movements and breathing patterns is perfect for getting your heart rate down. Adding some soft tissue work to the mix can help with relaxing any muscles that feel a little tense. Possibly the most important part of the cool down is the breathing though. Again, it goes back to the brain and making sure that you are taking your body out of that heightened state in order to start the recovery period.

Not doing either of these things and rushing into and out of a workout can actually end up being a recipe for disaster. Some people think that saying you could get hurt is just a way to scare them into warming up and cooling down. These are the same people that see it as a waste of time. I’ll also bet that most of these people don’t see the results they wish they could have. Why? (There’s that question again.) When the body is in a heightened state and hasn’t been properly warmed up or cooled down, you are in this constant state of flight or flight, which leads to prolonged recovery periods, plateaus and other not so fun gym terms. Do yourself a favor, warm up before and cool down after. Your brain and body will thank you, and you may just see more and better results than you did when you weren’t doing those things.

Recovery: Fitness that Doesn’t Come from a Gym

By: Nick Lape

Time to Recover - ClockJust about every person that I meet asks me what I do for a living. After I tell them I am a trainer, they all respond with what they are currently doing at the gym. More often than not I hear something similar to, “Nick, I just started a weight training program. I work out like 5 or 6 times a week and I hit ALL my muscles every day. I love how sore I’m getting BUT, I can’t seem to lose any more weight or get any stronger. How can I change things up?” When I ask them how much water they are drinking or how many hours of sleep they are getting on average, a huge look of surprise overtakes their face. Many people fail to realize that recovery outside of the gym is just as important, if not more important than their training inside the gym.

The number one thing that seems to be over looked in a training program is the rest or recovery phases. Without these, you will hit plateaus. Fat loss will begin to slow and strength gains will stop happening. You will be stuck because your brain and body are on overload. They don’t want you to do any more. You might tell it to push harder, but at some point your body will say “No.” It will worry more about surviving in this state of overload than losing weight or building muscle. It won’t matter how much harder you push yourself at this point, your body won’t progress until it has a chance to recover. Then you will be back at square one asking someone what to change.

In all honesty, if you are looking to change something there is a good chance that it has nothing to do with the gym. It is something that I personally tell people all the time. Most of your strength and physique changes happen in your kitchen and while lying in your bed, when your internal processes are hard at work. An example of just one of these processes is the release of Human Growth Hormone that helps repair our body as we sleep. All you did with your workout is shock these systems into working more efficiently. If you aren’t getting enough sleep or your diet isn’t feeding your metabolism the way it should, you may as well just concede to your plateau. It won’t be going anywhere for a while.

Recovery, though you may not want to, could mean taking a day off or the gym and just foam rolling or breathing silently. It could also mean adding more veggies, water, and protein and taking out sugar and processed foods. Maybe it means turning off the TV an hour earlier and getting an extra hour of sleep in.  Everyone is different. Everyone will react differently to changes that they make. Plateauing is a common sign of overtraining. That means TOO MUCH training. Change things outside of the gym first and then worry about the next phase of your training.