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So You don't know SQUAT?

Posted on 5 September, 2016 at 10:55 Comments comments (69)

Today I am looking to shed some light on one of the most well known lower body exercises known. This exercise has been referred to as: the King of all exercises. And with good reason. The squat is a movement that the human starts to encorporate in its life as an infant. There is often a lot of controversy over the squat these days. I find people come to me saying things like: Isn't squatting bad for my knees? Will my back get hurt from squatting? And I am here to tell you that if you squat correctly, it can be one of the most safe, effective exercises in building muscle, burning fat, and increasing endurance!


In effort to help everyone to encorporate the squat into their exercise routine, I will go over some of the most common squatting mistakes and how to correct them.

1. Knees coming forward

The first, and most common squatting error that I have seen is that people squat by bending their knees forward to descend to the bottom position. The general rule of thumb is: Do not, for any reason, allow your knees to bend forward passed your toes. If you think about sitting back to an imaginary box behind you ("reaching back" with your hips and glutes), then your knees will not extend forward nearly as much. A good test to see how well you are squating is to stand facing a wall, with your toes an inch away from the wall and trying to squat. If your knees hit the wall, then they are coming forward too much and you should work on 'reaching back."

2. Rounding of the Back

Keeping the back from rounding is crucial to safely squat. Often when I am at the gym, I notice someone with too much weight on the bar, attemptng to squat, and their upper back ends up taking a question mark shape on the way up. This is not a good look for the spine. It places stress on the intervertebral discs, and drastically increases the chance of injury. The cue to help keep the spine from rounding over is to keep the chest up. If you are facing a mirror, you can think about leading with your head, making sure that you can see your chest, and keeping your abs tight. In other words: Chest up, core tight. These cues keep the spine neutral and it allows for some core strength to develop at the same time.


3. Breath Breath Breath

The squat is concidered a leg exercise by most, but if done properly, it should involve every muscle in your body. When I unrack the weight and step back into position, I activate my leg muscles, I brace my core, I pull the bar into my back to activate my back and shoulder muscles, and i crush the bar in my hands. Every muscle group is an active participant in the exercise, and they each play an important role in maximizing the efficiency of the squat. I call this: "zipping up." I zip up my body before i descend into my first squat rep. One of the most important aspects of zipping up is inhaling. The last thing that I do before squatting is filling my lungs with air. I hold that air for the full descent, and even as I hit depth and come back up. I do not exhale until I am nearly at the top of each rep, then I inhale again before descending another time. Holding your breath increase intra-abdominal pressure, which allows your core to get as invloved as possible, which in turn keeps your lower back from taking on too much of the load. Obviously, too much load on your lower back is a bad thing. Load on you core is a good thing. 

These main squatting points are very important and are always helpful in keeping a safe, effective exercise  from turning into an injury-prone, ineffective exercise. Squatting is a very important tool for my clients, and for myself. I aim for perfect reps. You should too.

Hope this helps!



Monday Madness: But What Shoes Do I wear?

Posted on 29 August, 2016 at 14:10 Comments comments (0)

When starting out, choosing the proper equipment for your exercise needs is a crucial decision to stay comfortable, and safe during a workout. If you are wairing the wrong clothes, shoes or accessory equipment (such as a belt, gloves, wraps etc.) then you may be at risk for injury.

One of the first question you should ask yourself is: what Shoes should be wearing? The attire needs may greatly differ if you are a marathon runner than if you are an olympic weight lifter. One big question will be: Am i going to be inside, outside, or both? If you are going to be outside, then climate and weather are going to play key roles in your decisions. 

-Let us Look at the Specifics of Shoe Choice-

Shoes will be one crucial aspect of exercise equipment choice. The general consensus is, that if you are looking for a pair of sneakers that you can both run with, use an elliptical and weight train with, then your best bet would be to find some cross-trainers. Cross-trainers allow for comfort and support with a firm heel (think weight training benefits) along with fairly durable tread and a light weight.

Next, if youre a true runner, and plan on putting some serious miles in, then it makes the most sense for you to get some running sneakers. You would want something that will be light and durable that can handle a little water.

The final pair of shoes that I will go over, is a set of Olympic Weight Lifting Shoes. These shoes have been getting more popular in the weight lifting world as of recent years. The idea behind them is that the heel and sole of the shoe will be really hard and the heel will be eleavted. These attributes allow for a more powerful transfer of energy through the floor during compound weight training movements. The elevated heel allows the range of motion in the ankle to be more forgiving which can translate to a deeper squat with better hip and knee position. Olympic shoes have their place in the fitness world, but they are by no means for everyone.

If you are looking for a simple pair of shoes to workout in, go for short runs, and be generally active in, go with cross-trainers. If you need to specialize in a specific fitness field, such as running or olympic weight lifting, then a second pair of shoes that allow for optimal performance may be beneficial to you.

Hope this Helps!


Monday Madness: Top Exercise Hurdles

Posted on 22 August, 2016 at 18:00 Comments comments (10848)

I see it day in and day out. Friends and Family often say, "hey Tim, I have always wanted to work out but I can't because ______." There are certain obstacles that everyone will face when trying to active. Whether you are training for the Olymics, trying to lose weight, or just trying to stay healthy, there are always hurdles in life that seem to inhibit people from tieing their shoes and hitting the gym. Here are the most common struggles that I have both seen in others, and experienced in my own life:

1. No Time

Nobody in todays world seems to have enough time to get through all of their tasks. Day in and day out, people go to work or school, they have errands to do etc. Interestingly enough, some of the busiest people I know seem to find time to exercise.

Schedule, schedule, schedule. Seems simple, right? Well it can be. If you put the gym in at a convienient time, in a convienient place, then all of the sudden it becomes convienient to go there. When I worked from 8:30 to 5:30, Monday to Friday, I found a gym right next to my job. For me, this meant I could wake up at 5:30, zip over to the gym and train for 90 min, shower and get breakfast right up until it was time to head into the office. Not only did this save me time wasted during rush hour traffic, but it allowed me to have more time in the evening to get my other tasks done. 

This does not mean that the correct solution for everyone is to get up early to train. It does mean that there is a way to make it convienient to squeeze the gym in right before, or right after another obligation.

2. Too Tired

The next common exercise hurdle is that many people become too fatigued to exercise. Sometimes, life throws a lot at you: working long shifts, not getting enough sleep, or eating very little. This often results with going home and relaxing before bed (or sleeping in in the morning) instead of hitting the gym.

Ironically, when people exercise, their energy levels increase. Exercise creates a physiological response the heightens the senses and "wakes you up." This is sometimes my biggest problem. After a long day, or a tough night, it is hard to get into the gym. Its been said before: the toughest part of exercise is tieing your shoes. Meaning: once you get your gym clothes on and tie your shoes, the hard part is over. The trick is: drive to the gym and go in the locker room. Once you are on site, in workout clothes, you will already feel a bit more awake. Once you get warmed up, you will feel awake and ready to go. Once you complete your workout, you will have more energy than when you started.

3. Pain/Injury

Every once in a while, I will have somebody come in for a consultation, and they will say something along the lines of, "My biggest fear is that exercise is going to aggrevate my *insert injury*, so I have never been able to exercise." Well my response is usually something like, "Well although exercise can be scary and you could hurt yourself, there is a way to exercise around most any injury, and exercising safely will not onset a new injury."

People get injured. It just happens. Whether its low back pain from sitting at a desk all day, or a broken foot, there is a way to elevate your heart rate and get some exercise in. I have had a variety of injuries, and during almost all of them, I have found a way to exercise just as frequently. Maybe I dropped back intensity and volume, but I was able to put in some work and it helped me to recover from my injury sooner. Listen to your body, and know that every problem has a solution. There is a lot of value in knowledge. You just need to know where to look.

I hope you enjoyed my first blog post. There will be more to come.