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.

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?

Level it Down!

By: Nick Lape ACSM, FMS

Don’t risk it, level it down!

We love it when people come to the studio ready to work and ready to put all their effort into their training session. We love the dedication and the desire to improve. However, when that effort and dedication is combined with a lack of body awareness, lack of knowledge of form, and/or fatigue it can turn it into a bad thing. This is where form begins to fail or was never there in the first place. The moment that bad form happens, if it can’t be fixed it right away, taking a step down and moving backwards to reteach yourself a movement or lock in good form could actually allow you to get better results. No matter what we read or what we see on TV leveling down or performing a regressed version of a movement is NEVER a bad thing.

Like I mentioned, when someone works as hard as they can in a workout, form can start to go to the wayside. When this happens, it really doesn’t matter who it is that is doing the work or attempting the movement, when the body starts to fail at a movement it is time for a change. This is where forgetting your pride and adding a little bit of knowledge can come in handy. Level it down!!! Take the time to do it right and you will be SOOO much better for it. Consistently doing exercises in poor form just to pump out another rep or to protect your pride can be disastrous to your body. However, if you level down at the appropriate time you can prevent injuries and get better results. Leveling down an exercise goes so much farther than just physical aspect.

One experiment I like to do with my clients is a quick one. I’ll give you 5 seconds to think about the worst thing that happened to you in the last 48 hours, GO!!! Ok, now think about the best thing that happened to you in the last 48 hours, 5 seconds, GO!!! I have found that people can recall a bad memory faster and in more detail in 5 seconds than they can a good one. I’m not going to get all scientific, but think about that. What do you think happens when you attempt an exercise in poor form? Your brain remembers it, and it can become that much more difficult to re learn the proper version. These ‘bad reps’ are learned when we have either not learned properly or we have become fatigued during the back half of a workout.

In the same sense, doing an exercise improperly can in fact mean the difference between a quality life and painful one or a lack of results or one filled with great results. Even some of the strongest people I know lessen the weight they lift when they know it doesn’t feel right. The difference between them and the person doing that push up that looks like it may actually be killing them is the fact that they know taking a step back at that moment will allow them to go farther in the end. We are all about pushing yourself and doing your best at each training session. To us that means working your hardest while keeping good form through the entire training session.

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!

Stop Winking at Me

By: Nick Lape ACSM, FMS

Every person that I know wants to have a glorious back side. Why? Because, they all want to look great in their favorite pair of jeans. They want to know how people like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez do it! So they search online and find the “best” articles they can on how to do the perfect squat. And what do you know, everyone starts squatting to get a little lift behind them. Here is the problem: most people either don’t squat down far enough OR they squat too far. Yes, there is such a thing as too far, especially when talking about a healthy spine. This is where we get what most fitness professionals call the ‘Butt Wink.’

No, no. Don’t be flattered. This isn’t the kind of wink that the guy or girl from across the bar gives you that makes your heart flutter. This is the kind of wink that can leave your lower back debilitated for quite some time. It occurs in your hips when you have gone past a certain range of motion in your squat. This ‘winking’ is when you drop too far into your squat and your hips tuck under causing stress on the disks in your lower spine. Doesn’t sound too fun, does it? If you answered “not at all” then you would be correct. Now the question is how do we fix it?

As we have all heard in the past, the key to fixing any issue is addressing what the problem might be. When talking about ‘Butt Wink’ there can be quite a few underlying causes, but for the sake of time, I’m going to only talk about the two most common causes. These two are tightness in the hip flexors (front of the hips) and a weak core that can’t help hold you upright. More often than not, when these two things begin to be corrected, squat form becomes better.

Now here’s how we can correct it. When hip flexors are tight, they can keep a person from being able to sit back into their squat, keep the weight in their heels, and ultimately prevent the muscles in their backside from engaging. We can remedy this by simply adding a heel lift. Squat with your heels on a pair of 10 pound plates and you will see a difference. The weights will displace your weight forward and allow you to lean back farther. It’s a simple fix. Now, you might ask, what happens when my core doesn’t turn on? Luckily, it’s another simple fix.  When your abs don’t turn on in your squat, it will have the same effect as tight hip flexors: you will lean forward. In order to get the core to engage, hold a weight in front of your body instead of behind your neck. This will not only act as a counter balance to make you sit back farther but your core will turn on as well.

Adding these two simple things to your squat can be a HUGE game changer. It can greatly increase the range of motion in your squat and allow you to get deeper without that ‘Butt Wink’. Will they keep you from ever winking again? No. Even while using these tools it is highly recommended to stand sideways to a mirror and watch your hips as you go down. If your hips tuck or ‘wink’ you have simply gone too far. My advice is to stop just before that happens. Stopping at that end range and adding these tools to your squat will keep you healthy and build that beautiful backside you’ve always wanted, or just use them to watch your squat numbers increase!

10 Ways to Get More Veggies!

By: Suzanne Doerries RD, LD

VeggiesWe have all been told to eat our veggies as a child. Some may have heard, “No dessert until you eat your green beans.” For others, “Clean your plate. There are starving kids in China.” was more common. Well your parents may have been on to something! Veggies are full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber! A higher intake of veggies (and fruit) has even been associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.  A great goal is to make half your plate veggies at every meal. I am not talking about the giant plates that can be found today, but the smaller dinner plates that can be comparable to some salad plates. If you are having a dish that has veggies mixed it that works too. As long as those veggies would take up about half your plate if you separated them out, you are good to go!

Adding veggies to every meal can seem like a daunting task, but it can be pretty easy. When choosing your veggies for the week, try to include a variety of colors. This will insure you are getting a variety of nutrients. If you find it hard to get veggies with every meal try some of these tips below!

  1. Have veggies in your house. If you don’t buy them, you will not eat them. Buying veggies that are in season will help with price and they will also taste the best! See what veggies are in season.
  2. If you are purchasing veggies that do not have a long shelf life, eat those at the beginning of the week and save your carrots and celery for the end of the week. You could also go to the store twice a week. I find that this is what a majority of my clients like to do.
  3. Make sure the veggies you are going to eat are ready for consumption. If you are going to have sliced peppers and hummus, but the pepper still needs to be cut and washed the chances of you still having that will drastically decrease.
  4. Add veggies to your eggs. Peppers, onions, mushrooms, and spinach are quite tasty in eggs. If you missed the crustless quiche recipe a few weeks ago be sure to check it out.
  5. Add them to a smoothie. This works great with spinach and kale! Start with spinach; it blends right in and you probably won’t even taste it.
  6. Make them your staple side dish. Carrots, celery, or peppers with hummus is great! Celery with nut butter is another good one for packed lunches. Baked asparagus, roasted beets, kale salad, or fermented coleslaw are some great dinner options.
  7. Replace your chips with veggies. Peppers, carrots, beets, and other veggies will give your body more nutrients than chips. You can even try kale chips. They are easy to make and delicious!
  8. Replace the tortilla or bread with a lettuce, Swiss chard, or collard green leaf. If using a bitter leaf like the collard green blanch it first. This will take out the bitterness and create a nice texture for the wrap.
  9. When eating out, swap French fries for a side salad or veggie. I know it is tempting, but veggies give your body so many more nutrients than the French fries.
  10. Be adventurous and try a new veggie. You can even try ones you didn’t like as a child. Tastes change. In my opinion, canned veggies taste a lot different than fresh veggies. Who knows, you may find a new favorite food!

Which step are you going to take to increase your veggies? They can be easy to overlook, but are crucial to your health!

Spring Forward with Fitness BBQ Celebration!

Last week we announced the winners of our Spring Forward with Fitness Challenge at our BBQ. The challenge was based of percent inches lost around the waist and hips. We were so excited to see everyone’s results.  Not only could you tell people lost inches, but their attitude toward health, fitness, and their self changed.   After totaling everyone’s results, 44 inches were lost among the group in the waist and hips and 60 inches overall. That is five feet!

Congrats Kelly and Lisa!

Congrats Kelly and Lisa!

Kelly Williams took first place and $1,000 with 6.9% inches lost around her waist and hips! She lost 17.6 pounds, 10.5 total inches, with 6.5 of those being from the waist and hips. Kelly came in with a focus. You could tell she had made up her mind to make a change for herself. She came to the weekly nutrition classes and gave some great input. She was a regular to the 6am classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and usually added a weekend workout. Keep up the awesome work!

Lisa Bailey lost 5.5% inches around her waist and hips and was crowned second winning $600. Lisa has made so many great changes especially with her mindset. She figured out what works for her and how to frame things in a positive manner. This is so important when making changes that you want to last. Despite an extremely busy time in her life, she made time for workouts, nutrition, and herself. Way to go Lisa!

Laura Williams won $400 in third place losing 5.1% inches. She is someone who gives each workout her all. If you give her a heavier weight she doesn’t complain. She enjoys the challenge. She planned workouts around her 12 hour shifts and attended the nutrition classes she could. She made her health a priority. Congrats on your success! We wish we could have taken your picture at the BBQ, but understand those 12-hour shifts.

Congrats on your success!

Congrats on your success!

Thanks to everyone who came out to the BBQ! A special thanks and congratulations to those who decided to make a change and did the Spring Forward with Fitness Challenge. Even though only three people received cash prizes, everyone made an improvement!