Search Here

Posts Tagged ‘fitness tips’

PostHeaderIcon How To Prevent Injuries and Maintain Longevity

Now that the New Year has started, some of you will be coming out of a hiatus due to holiday stress or illness. Others will be setting New Years goals by starting up a new fitness routine or athletic endeavor for the first time in a while. This puts you at high risk of getting injured. During my career as a fitness professional, I have many students and clients tell me about their injuries. Most of these injuries could have been avoided. A few years ago, I wrote an article about what to do in case of an injury. If you already have an injury, see a doctor and read this article by clicking the link below:

WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF AN INJURY

Today I am writing an article about how to prevent getting injured in the first place. If we can prevent injuries, we will achieve our fitness goals faster because injuries often cause us to stop our routines or exercise with less intensity. While planning out your fitness goals, keep these injury prevention tips in mind:

Leave your ego at the door:

Before you start your work out, resolve to leave your ego at the door. I’ve seen the ego monster trick many people into getting injured. Humbly ask for help if you don’t know how to use a piece of fitness equipment. Do the safer modification in a group fitness class if your gut tells you that the other move is too advanced, even if it hurts your ego. Don’t pile on more weights than you can lift just because you want to impress a sexy woman who is in the same room. Trust me, she’s not looking at how much weight your lifting. Don’t compromise form in order to get the fastest time in the crossfit class. All of these things can get you hurt. The truth is, people don’t care what you are doing. They are worried about their own workout, so put your ego in her place and use common sense.

Always use proper form, especially when dealing with weights:

I have a rule that keeps me safe: If I can’t lift a weight with proper form, I don’t. Bad form puts your spine and joints in a weak position and adding weights to bad form will exasperate muscle imbalances, causing chronic stress and injuries. If you can’t squat with proper form, work on your muscle imbalances first, before you add weights. Find out why you can’t do it with good form. Maybe you have to achieve more flexibility in your shoulders. Maybe you can do a squat with good form, but once you add 100 pounds, your knees start to go way over your toes. That’s when you know that you’ve reached your limit. Give yourself time to get stronger before you add more weight. Maybe you can do 10 squats with good form, but after 11, you start to slouch. Then you know that it is time to take a break at 10. As soon as you lose your form, your muscles have given up and your joints will start experiencing wear and tear.

Achieve mastery one step at a time:

We learn to walk before we can run. When implementing fitness into your life, don’t attempt to run five miles on your first day, if you’ve never walked a mile in your life. Take into account what you are capable of doing and gradually add to that. If you are smart, your goal is to get fit for life. Set long term goals and take it one step at a time. This will prevent injuries and burn out. It will also make you more likely to stick to a fitness lifestyle permanently. After all, if you do it for only three months, you will go back to being unhealthy as soon as you stop. Add a bit more every two weeks to one month at a time.

Always warm up and cool down:

Years ago I got injured because I was a receptionist at a small yoga studio. I was allowed to check everyone in and take the last yoga class, but I had to walk in a few minutes late. I got an adjustment to my down dog before I had even warmed up. I got hurt. It may not seem like a big deal, but jumping into heavy weights or high intensity moves before your body is ready can get you hurt. If you don’t understand the science of warming up, please read my post on proper warm ups here:

WARM UP FOR INJURY PREVENTION AND ENHANCED PERFORMANCE

Balance–Always work the opposing muscles:

Our muscles tense up and get shorter in order to move our bones. For example, our biceps will shorten in order to flex our elbows in a bicep curl. When this happens, our triceps will lengthen and relax because it is on the other side. If we keep doing bicep curls without doing triceps extensions, we will have short and tight biceps and weak and long triceps. This is why we should work both muscles. If you do bench presses without doing rows, you will have short and tight pectorals which will cause your shoulders to turn in and may lead to a hunch back. Therefore, always do rows in order to strengthen your upper back and provide flexibility to your pectorals. If you always do abdominal crunches without working out your lower back, you will have tight abdominals which can cause your lower back to round excessively due to having a long and weak lower back. These imbalances can cause chronic pain and injuries, so always strengthen and stretch the opposite muscle groups.

Balance your fitness:

Speaking of balance, make sure that you aren’t overdoing it in one area of fitness and completely slacking in another. Our bodies need stability in order to protect our ligaments and joints. Therefore, only stretching without strengthening and stabilizing can cause loose ligaments and weak joints. However, only strength training without stretching can cause muscle stiffness and stress. Cardio and aerobic fitness helps circulate our blood, increasing our ability to recover. It also gives us stamina and strengthens our heart. In order to stay balanced and healthy, we need to balance out our fitness.

Learn to differentiate muscle pain from joint pain:

A gold medalist once said that our muscles protect our joints. Once you feel that your joints are in pain, stop. This means that your muscles have given up and you are just putting stress on your joints. If you run without overdoing it, the cartilage in your knees will actually get stronger. However, if you push through joint pain, you will hurt yourself and wear out the cartilage in your knees and hips. I have been applying this rule to my life for years. This is also a great tip because most of the complaints I hear from students regarding injuries are joint injuries due to overuse. Overuse injuries can be avoided if we stop when we are supposed to.

Vary your training:

I stated earlier that we achieve mastery one step at a time. Try not to stop at step one or two. If you do the exact same exercise for many years, you could still get hurt. Maybe the first time you did a particular routine, you felt massive changes in your body, so you kept doing it for years. Then one day, there is an emergency that requires you to move in a different way. Since your body has been programmed to move the exact same way for years, you get injured. The brain and the body are connected by a vast system, but habit can cause some connections to disappear completely.

I also suggest you practice functional moves so that you can use them in everyday life, such as learning proper technique for picking things up off the floor so you don’t hurt your back. Learn to use your muscles in different planes of motion because you just might need to move that way during an emergency. I have had students thank me many times because the moves I taught them have helped them in emergency situations. As I get older, I become more reliant on cross training because my body can’t handle doing the same moves everyday. Moving in different directions gives some of my muscles opportunities to rest while I work out others. Remember, the fitter you are, the less likely you will be severely hurt during an accident. So in order to keep from getting hurt, stay fit.

Weigh the risk of competition:

Many people get hurt during competition but some will say that it was worth it. Before you are about to break your ankle while crossing the finish line in tenth place, weigh the risk of competition and know how far you are willing to go to win. A professional athlete makes millions of dollars putting his body on the line and has the best orthopedic surgeons at his disposal. You have to ask yourself if finishing that marathon or getting beaten up in an amateur cage match is worth the risk of injuring yourself and being out of commission . Ask yourself why you are competing. If you join a marathon to lose weight but break a leg and gain all the weight back, is it worth it? Maybe winning a competition is a life long dream that you are willing to sacrifice everything for. Only you can decide what is best, but definitely premeditate on the risks before you go in the field. Then you will know if it is okay to risk it all and when to ease off and let someone else take the spotlight. Of course, if you want to reduce your chance of getting injured during competition, train smart. Strengthen your muscles so they are ready for the abuse they are about to take. Don’t compete without practicing and training like an athlete. I’ve seen many weekend warriors break bones or wreck their bodies because they competed without training for the event.

Don’t forget recovery:

Make sure you are getting enough nutrients for growing muscles and for recovery. Make sure you are giving your muscles adequate rest and time to adapt, and that you are getting enough sleep in order to avoid overuse injuries or fainting episodes caused by fatigue or low blood sugar.

For a short post on recovery, consistency and why some people practically kill themselves but still don’t improve check out this link:

WHY AM I NOT IMPROVING

PostHeaderIcon 112 Ways To Break Your Plateau

According to the law of overload, we must place new demands on the body in order to make it change. For example, if you want to lower your fat percentage, you must exercise in order to burn more calories and become thinner. If you want to make your muscles stronger or faster, you must load your muscles with heavier weights or train in a way that makes you faster. We add some recovery and rest to the formula so the body has time to adapt and what you have is a stronger, faster, bigger or smaller frame. Once your body has adapted, it is a new, fitter body. But what if you want to lose more weight or improve your athletic performance to an even higher level?

Now you have to load your body in a new way because it has adapted to the loads you initially placed on it. When the body stops improving (stops losing weight or getting stronger or faster), it is called a plateau. A plateau is something trainers are very familiar with. In order to break plateaus, we introduce new challenges in order to generate more results.

So basically, if you want more results, do something new. If you want to maintain your body, do what you have been doing, if you want to reverse the affects of exercise and become less fit, stop doing what you are doing and let yourself go.

Breaking a plateau doesn’t have to be daunting. Change can be exciting and interesting. Just for fun, I compiled a huge list of simple ways to break a plateau below. If you find that your body has stopped changing, pick something from the list below that you haven’t tried yet and is specific to your athletic goals. To learn how I broke my plateaus while losing weight after having a baby, check out this blog: http://heroestraining.com/?p=80

112 SIMPLE WAYS TO BREAK PLATEAU:

  1. Lift heavier weights with fewer repetitions
  2. Lift lighter weights with more repetitions
  3. Add one or two more sets
  4. Time your rest periods and make them shorter
  5. Take a break (sometimes, we stop improving because our body is burnt out)
  6. Find out where you are weak and strengthen those areas (you’ll be surprised at how much addressing your weakness will enhance your athletic performance)
  7. Use bands instead of weights
  8. Use weights instead of bands
  9. Use cable instead of weights

10.  Use barbells instead of dumbbells

11.  Use dumbbells instead of barbells

12.  Use kettlebells instead of dumbbells or barbells

13.  Use a tire or boulder instead of barbells

14.  Do Jumping Jacks, pushups, burpees etc. between sets as an active rest.

15.  Stop using rest periods and do circuits instead (a circuit program consists of working out one muscle group and then working out another muscle group while you rest the other. You never stop moving)

16.  Try doing a really intense fifteen minute workout instead of a moderate one hour workout

17.  Do speed intervals instead of long distance (intervals are cardio workouts where you go really hard and then rest for a timed interval, and then go really hard again)

18.  Do shorter speed intervals (ie, 100 yard sprints instead of 400 yard sprints)

19.  Do longer speed intervals (ie, 800 yard sprints instead of 400 yard sprints)

20.  Do fartlegs (ie, run or cycle fast for 3 minutes, jog for five)

21.  Do long distance instead of intervals

22.  Walk up a hill

23.  Walk up a steeper hill

24.  Run up hill

25.  Do hill intervals (sprint up a hill, then rest or just walk down. Then sprint up the hill again for a set amount of times)

26.  Run while pushing a sled

27.  Run while pulling a sled

28.  Run while pushing a baby in a stroller

29.  Do bear crawls instead of running or walking (walking or running on all fours, hands and feet)

30.  Instead of just sitting in front of the computer, flex or squeeze your muscles while working

31.  Instead of sitting or lying down while watching TV or reading, ride a stationary bike; walk on the treadmill or any other exercise.

32.  Hike up hill while pushing a baby in a stroller (I used to do this. It’s really hard)

33.  Swim instead of run

34.  Try skipping instead of running

35.  Try the rowing machine

36.  Lunge up hill

37.  Try step up lunges

38.  Try step forward lunges

39.  Try walking lunges

40.  Try split, jumping lunges

41.  Lunge in a different direction

42.  Lunge with a child on your shoulders

43.  Do pushups with a small child on your back

44.  Do pushups with someone pushing on your shoulders

45.  Do pushups with a band pushing on your shoulders

46.  Do sit ups with a child pushing on your chest

47.  Use a weight vest

48.  Use a sand bag

49.  Use ankle or wrist weights while taking pilates class

50.  Hire a personal trainer

51.  Join a fitness class

52.  Sign up for a race or marathon training program

53.  Take up a new sport

54.  Run or cycle on a different trail than you are used to

55.  Play tag with your kids

56.  Try jump squatting instead of just squatting

57.  Do one legged squats instead of squatting

58.  Do one legged lunges instead of just lunging

59.  Do one legged deadlifts instead of just deadlifting

60.  Try squat thrusts instead of your usual squat routine.

61.  If you do back squats, do front squats instead.

62.  If you do front squats, do back squats instead.

63.  Try squatting on an uneven surface like a bosu ball

64.  Try pushups on a bosu ball.

65.  Try pushups on two bosu balls

66.  Try pushups on a stabilitiy ball

67.  Try pushups on two stability balls

68.  Try crunches or planks on a bosu or stability ball

69.  Try clapping plyo push ups

70.  Try pushups with one leg off the floor

71.  Try pushups with one arm off the floor

72.  Do a pull up or pull up assist instead of a lat pull down

73.  Try one armed pull ups

74.  Climb a rope, pole, tree, mountain or wall instead of pull ups

75.  Do a row from a push up position instead of a standing position

76.  Use a stability ball instead of a bench

77.  Do twenty burpees at the end of your workout before you cool down.

78.  Do twenty jump squats at the end of your workout before you cool down.

79.  Do forty jumping jacks at the end of your workout before you cool down.

80.  Do thirty pushups at the end of your workout before you cool down.

81.  Hit a punching bag as hard as you can.

82.  Get heavier boxing gloves

83.  Get heavier jump ropes

84.  Try criss cross jump ropes

85.  Try hopping on one leg

86.  Try squat jumping with a jump rope

87.  Try jumping up once while spinning the rope twice.

88.  Try jumping up once while spinning the rope thrice.

89.  Just jump faster

90.  Do your workouts faster

91.  Do you workouts slower

92.  See how many reps you can do with a lighter weight

93.  See how many reps you can do with a heavier weight

94.  Do as many reps as you can with a light weight, then do the second set with a heavier weight and switch off.

95.  Take longer rest periods but use heavier weights (just don’t rest for too long)

96.  Only give yourself a certain amount of time to do as many reps as you can.

97.  See if you can beat your time.

98.  Race your friends

99.  Do multiple muscle exercises (for example, instead of just squatting, add thrust press to your workout and make it a squat thrust so you are working your upper and lower body at the same time. Bicep curls isolate the biceps but pull ups work the upper back and biceps.)

100.Do a burpee to a squat thrust

101.Instead of doing leg lifts from the floor, do it while hanging from a bar

102.Do crunches or sit ups from an incline or hanging upside down

103.Do planks instead of crunches

104.Do pikes or jack knives instead of crunches or planks

105.Do planks with one arm or leg off the floor

106.Do pushups with your feet on the wall

107.Try military push ups

108.Try handstand push ups

109.Run, walk, lunge or skip in the beach sand

110.Play soccer on the sand instead of on the grass

111.Run, walk, lunge or skip up a sand dune

112.Go for a walk during your lunch break or after dinner