Motivation

Intrinsic motivation describes one’s internal drive to participate, exert effort, and be persistent when engaging in an activity. Intrinsically motivated individuals partake in an activity simply due to the pleasure and satisfaction derived from the activity itself (Hunter, 2008).  Not surprising, it is a huge factor in long-term exercise program adherence. As a person who takes on clients working toward specific fitness goals, it is part of my job to keep them committed to their goals so they are successful. Cultivating a client’s intrinsic motivation is an important part of this.

Hunter (2008) identifies three facets of intrinsic motivation: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Autonomy means that a client has some control over his or her workout. One way I like to give clients autonomy is by letting them choose the weight they want to lift during exercises, within my parameters (i.e., they can lift the weight with good technique, they are not risking injury, the weight corresponds to my desired intensity, etc.). I also ask clients or the kids in my group classes for feedback on exercises. For example, I’ll ask the kids if any of the exercises are too easy or too hard, or which exercise is their favorite or least favorite of the exercises in a circuit. These choices involve my clients in the decision-making aspects of their workouts while keeping them on track to meet their goals.

Competence describes a client’s belief in his or her ability to perform a task. Hunter (2008) suggests providing ample opportunities for clients to practice performing quality skills. I start many of my youth strength and conditioning classes with 5-10 minutes of jumping rope, and many kids do not do this well, at first. I provide the beginners with lots of positive feedback and encouragement in their first classes. In just a few weeks of practice, at the start of every class, kids will master the basics of jumping rope. For many, improving so much in such a short time is a big confidence booster.

Relatedness is the third component of intrinsic motivation that refers to an individual’s connection or sense of belongingness to a group (Hunter, 2008). I actually had a shocking moment yesterday when, after teaching my gym’s level 1 strength and conditioning class to two boys of similar size and age, I asked them if they knew each other’s name and neither did! A lot of kids develop relationships with the coaches at the gym, which fosters some relatedness, but I could definitely do more to develop connections between the kids in my classes.

A study by Evans, Cooke, Murray, and Wilson (2014) explored how the temporal proximity of anticipated positive outcomes affected intrinsic motivation. Proximal outcomes were defined as the benefits that occur immediately during or within a few hours of a single exercise bout, whereas distal outcomes occur after days, months or years of consistent physical activity. This study demonstrated that the intrinsic motivation of subjects with lower levels of past physical activity significantly increased when they were exposed to proximal outcomes compared to distal.

As a coach and trainer, I’ve always understood the importance of motivating others (and myself) with the positive benefits of consistent exercise, but my temporal outcome differentiation was between short-term outcomes (in the next month or two) and long-term outcomes (in 6 months to a year). The idea of focusing on immediate outcomes from single workouts is fantastic. I may not be the greatest example because I generally enjoy exercise, but reading through the list of proximal positive outcomes from the study has really motivated me to workout tonight. I may even print it out and post it by my desk. I love the idea of encouraging clients to make lists of proximal positive outcomes or reference the one from this study, and I think it could go a long way in developing intrinsic motivation with exercise.

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 7.22.57 PM.png

Previous studies have reported the effect motivational climate has on an athlete. The perception of a mastery motivational climate, emphasizing “learning, effort, improvement, and success determined by self-reference criteria,” has been demonstrated to increase intrinsic motivation (Brinkman-Majewski & Weiss, 2015).  This is opposite of a performance motivational climate, where success is determined in competition to others, leading to increased anxiety and less satisfaction (Brinkman-Majewski & Weiss, 2015). Creating mastery motivational climates with fitness clients could be done as a coach by not comparing clients to each other and highlighting personal PRs and improvements. Especially when working with kids whose sense of self is in a more formative stage, emphasizing task-involved goal orientations could increase the perception of the motivational climate, thereby influencing intrinsic motivation.

References

Brinkman-Majewski, R. E. & Weiss, W. M. (2015). Examination of the motivational climate in the athletic training room. Journal of Sports Behavior, 38(2), 143-160.

Evans, M. B., Cooke, L. M., Murray, R. A., & Wilson, A. E. (2014). The sooner, the better: Exercise outcome proximity and intrinsic motivation. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being, 6 (3), 347-361. doi:10.1111/aphw.12032

Hunter, S. D. (2008). Promoting intrinsic motivation in clients. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 30(1), 52-54.

Advertisements

Osteoporosis, Age, Parkinson’s decrease dynamic balance and increase fall risk

Motor abilities influence an individual’s success in the performance of certain motor skills (Magill & Anderson, 2013). A motor ability of interest is dynamic balance, or the ability to maintain stability while one is in motion, as there is a strong correlation between poor balance and falls (although it is not the only factor), which are a large health concern among many populations (Ünlüsoy et. al 2011). I have had many clients with various conditions, including age, Parkinson’s disease, and osteoporosis, who were unsteady during locomotion due to poor dynamic balance.

All three of these conditions, age, Parkinson’s disease, and osteoporosis, have a negative influence on the dynamic balance category of motor abilities (Paolucci et. al 2014; Ünlüsoy et. al 2011). Age-dependent change in the musculoskeletal, sensory, and neural systems decrease balance ability in older adults (Maki & Mcllroy, 1996). Parkinson’s disease occurs in the brain’s basal ganglia when there is a lack of dopamine production in the substantia nigra, and it causes bradykinesia, akinesia, tremor, and muscular rigidity (Magill & Anderson, 2013).  Paolucci et al. (2014) state that a “balance disorder is one of the most important impairments” in this population due to statistics showing substantially greater incidence of falls among those with PD (70% of individuals with PD fall once a year and 50% of them fall twice a year in comparison to only 30% of healthy adults over the age of 65 who fall once in a year). Osteoporosis is a bone disease where bones become increasingly fragile from microstructure impairments in the bone tissue and decreases in bone mass. Ünlüsoy et. al (2011) demonstrated that dynamic balance in osteoporotic women was significantly worse than in healthy individuals.

There are many factors influencing one’s ability for dynamic balance during locomotion including muscle strength, interpretation of vestibular and proprioceptive information, and visual feedback (Paolucci et. al 2014). In terms of defining dynamic balance or any type of balance as a motor ability, Magill and Anderson (2013) state balance is a “multidimensional ability that is specific to the task or skill in which balance is involved,” and the specificity of motor abilities hypothesis postulates that individual motor abilities are relatively independent of one another. Given these assumptions, it is challenging to articulate the specific balance ability or abilities influencing locomotion.

If a client or patient came to me requesting help with dynamic balance while walking, I would perform various tests to rule out (or in) factors that may contribute to difficulty walking. I would assess muscular strength and endurance, especially in the lower extremity, observe the patient’s normal walking gait for noticeable abnormalities, and inquire into the patient’s medical history to rule out diseases or conditions, including those previously discussed, that may impact dynamic balance. I would also question the patient about lifestyle factors (i.e., recent accident or trauma, change in medication, etc.) that may be contributing to the deficit. If the patient has good muscle strength in the lower extremity, adequate gait mechanics, and no red flags in his or her medical history, this would indicate a problem with the motor ability of dynamic balance.

Additional ideas of assessments for dynamic balance related to gait were reviewed in a study by Bloem et. al (2016). This study recommended clinical tests including the UPDRS-derived Postural Instability and Gait Difficulty score, Berg Balance Scale, Mini-BESTest, Dynamic Gait Index, Freezing of Gait Questionnaire, Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale, Falls Efficacy Scale, Survey of Activities, Fear of Falling in the Elderly-Modified, 6-minute and 10-m walk tests, Timed Up-and-Go, and Functional Reach (Bloem et. al, 2016). Further research on my part is needed into these methods, but any would be reliable assessments of dynamic balance.

Motor abilities limit a person’s success in performing a motor skill. In the case discussed, dynamic balance is a motor ability that, if affected, can decrease one’s success at walking without falling. I believe it is important to note that while motor abilities may limit achievement in another skill, motor abilities themselves can be practiced, coached, and improved which would also benefit the motor skill performance. The most important part of treating a motor ability deficit is identifying and distinguishing it from other possible causes of poor motor skill performance.

References

Bloem, B. R., Marinus, J., Almeida, Q., Dibble, L., Nieuwboer, A., Post., B.,…Schrag, A. (2016). Measurement instruments to assess posture, gait, and balance in Parkinson’s disease: Critique and recommendations (abstract only). Movement Disorders. doi:10.1002/mds.26572

Magill, R. A. & Anderson, D. I. (2013). Motor learning and control: Concepts and applications (10th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Maki, B. E. & Mcllroy, W. E. (1996). Postural control in the older adult (abstract only). Clinical Geriatric Medicine, 12(4), 635-58.

Nakano, W., Fukaya, T., Kobayashi, S., & Ohashi, Y. (2016).  Age effects on the control of dynamic balance during step adjustments under temporal constraints. Human Movement Science, 47, 29-37. doi:10.1016/j.humov.2016.01.015

Paolucci, T., Morone, G., Fusco, A., Giuliani, M., Rosati, E., Zangrando, F., & … Iosa, M. (2014). Effects of perceptive rehabilitation on balance control in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Neurorehabilitation, 34(1), 113-120. doi:10.3233/NRE-131024

Ünlüsoy, D., Aydoğ, E., Tuncay, R., Eryksel, R., Ünlüsoy, İ., & Çakcı, A. (2011). Postural Balance in Women with Osteoporosis and Effective Factors. Turkish Journal Of Osteoporosis / Turk Osteoporoz Dergisi, 17(2), 37-43.

Practice makes perfect

I grew up to the sound of instructors reciting the mantra, “Practice makes perfect.” I was taught that all I had to do was practice hard and often, and one day, I’d be a master of whatever task I was working at. Unfortunately, research shows that the process isn’t that simple. One must deliberately practice his or her skill and have advantageous genetics, among other influences, in order to become an expert in a specific field.

Deliberate practice, or perfect practice, refers to the time one spends perfecting a skill using the most effective, appropriate training methods and feedback (Baker & Horton, 2004). It requires effort, focus, motivation, quality coaching, and drills that transfer well to performance. An athlete must be focused and intrinsically motivated to work hard through practice times under that guidance of knowledgeable coaches who maximize the efficiency of practice time and utilize effective feedback techniques to maximize the athlete’s development. Training exercises must be gauged to the athlete’s level and allow for correction and repetition. These drills must also transfer well to the performance of the defined task (Baker & Horton, 2004).

There are many flaws with the model of deliberate practice for expert performance which stipulates that approximately 10,000 hours of perfect practice over the course of 10 years is what is required for any individual to become an expert. Firstly, many of the studies cited for this model are retrospective studies, meaning the total hours of practice time were estimated retrospectively by participants, instead of being recorded or measured at the time of occurrence. The accuracy of these approximations is questionable. Secondly, what assurance is there of the quality of a given hour of practice? Is an hour of practice by one person in a study equivalent in quality to an hour of practice by another person in that same study? Furthermore, Tucker and Collins (2012) found that the number of deliberate practice hours only explains 28 to 34% of the individual variances in certain sports’ performance. While practice is an essential ingredient in the recipe for achieving sports expertise, it is not, by any means, the only important element.

Tucker and Collins (2012) state, that “training can be defined as the process by which genetic potential is realized,” demonstrating the intertwined relationship that deliberate practice and genetic factors play as one becomes an expert. Genetic factors that hold a large influence on sports performance expertise include gender, height, VO2 response to training (among other hereditary cardiorespiratory variables), and muscle mass and strength. Certain traits are more advantageous in some sports and less advantageous in others. For example, pertaining to the trait of height, tall individuals are preferred by some sports, while shorter individuals are favored by others (Tucker & Collins, 2012). Psychological traits including one’s ability to focus, rebound from mistakes, and manage anxiety in addition to one’s self-confidence and concentration are also influenced by genetic components and play an important role in setting up an athlete to achieve expertise in his or her sport (Baker & Horton, 2004).

Regardless of practice quality and genetic factors, there is also a limit to how much time one can practice in a given period without increasing the risk of injury from overuse and fatigue. Andrew Read (n. d.) tells a joke of an overzealous, novice athlete who asks his coach how long it’ll take before he’s a world class athlete. The coach tells him it will take 10 years. The athlete then asks the coach how long it would take to become a world class athlete if he works twice as hard and trains twice as long. The coach’s response is twenty years. Athletic development is limited by the amount of training one’s body can handle, and the occurrence of injuries delay the development process or prevent expert performance capability.

In my work with young athletes, I apply some of this information by teaching my students quality practice habits, such as concentration, focus, and intrinsic motivation. Although strong evidence exists about the influence of genetic factors on an individual’s performance potential, I refrain from teaching young athletes to attribute any of their success or lack of success to factors outside of their control as I believe this negatively affects their motivation. Further, I could do more in my coaching to promote positive recovery practices, such as quality sleep, soft tissue maintenance, and good nutrition, in the athletes I work with so they can maximize their ability to train and minimize injury risks.

References

Baker, J. & Horton, S. (2004). A review of primary and secondary influences on sport expertise. High Ability Studies, 15(2), 221-228.

Read, A. (n. d.). Run Strong [E-book]. N.P.

Tucker, R. & Collins, M. (2012). What makes champions? A review of the relative contribution of genes and training to sporting success. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 46, 555-561.

 

 

 

Sane, Balanced, Motivated

It’s the 2nd week of February, and this year is flying by. Since there is so much “new” in my life, a new job, schedule, blog, and goals, I’m always juggling and frequently re-evaluating. Today’s post is going to be an update on what’s going on in my life right now and what I’m doing to stay sane, balanced, and motivated.

Physical Therapy School

I’ve spent the last 2 years focused on getting accepted into a Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program.

The first year out of college, I retook (and Aced with the highest grades in my classes) two biology classes at my local community college, racked up 100+ hours of observation hours in a physical therapy office, and applied to 5 programs/schools that were within an hour’s drive of my house. I was rejected from 3, interviewed at 1 (then rejected), and waitlisted at the last (which never came to fruition).

The second year, I spoke with an admissions counselor from one school I was rejected from the year before, and framed my approach based on his recommendations. I retook a physics class (Aced), aced a 5.25 semester unit Spanish class, acquired over 1500 observation hours in multiple physical therapy settings, and had more recommendation letters. I also applied early to 20 programs this time. Well, after months of waiting for responses, I’m now at a point where I’ve been rejected from 14 schools and waitlisted in 3 programs, and I’m still waiting to hear back from 3.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 10.51.57 AM

Every single rejection is heartbreaking. The nicest rejection email still reads like “you are not good enough.” It hurts. It’s frustrating. It’s disappointing.

I just wonder if all these “no’s” are a sign that God has another path intended for me…or if struggling through this is God’s way of building an essential element of my character.

Success-is-not-linear-sarahkayhoffman.com-Gut-Healing

 

I do believe He has a plan for me.

I’ve had time to cultivate my passions in fitness and physical therapy over the last years. I have a lot more direction and sense of purpose in my life today than I did a year or two ago. Physical therapy is not my [only] end-all-be-all goal. My passions are in helping others, working with young athletes, teaching everyone healthy and sustainable fitness practices, and keeping people active and uninjured through the entirety of their lives. I see physical therapy as a means of doing this, but it is not the only way. So, regardless of what happens with physical therapy, I know the direction I’m going to keep shooting in.

Following My Bliss

While I wait to see how physical therapy school plays out, still unsure of where I’ll be in the Fall, I’m spending my time developing my personal training business and learning about being the best coach I can be. I call it “following my bliss” aka doing what makes me happy!

 

  • Yesterday, I did my first [paid] photoshoot as a model. It felt great! This is something I plan to incorporate more of. Why not? Anyone need a model?
    Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.59.49 AM
  • I have a [awesomely organized] binder for my personal training business. Yes, I’m a organization nut. I have color-coded tabs, self-made logs, a place for ideas, and other resources strategically placed in my binder.
  • I’m cultivating a social media following to increase the exposure of my website/blog.
  • I’m building a network of fitness professionals to collaborate with, including the physical therapists I’ve worked for.
  • Although I work for a gym, I’m not limiting myself just to business in that setting.
  • I’m exploring opportunities for growth, including coaching internships, Masters programs, and seminars/conventions.
  • I’m frequently listening to awesome podcasts in my car such as Ben Coomber Radio (a great UK-based nutritionist) and Physique Science Radio (hosted by Sohee Lee and Layne Norton) and trying to keep up with my monthly-delivered Strength & Conditioning Research Literature Reviews.
  • I began a new training program in the gym. It’s from Eric Cressey (one of the top athletic trainers in the country and one of my idols) called the High Performance Handbook. Yes, I am a personal trainer who has a personal trainer because, I’ll admit it, there is still a lot I don’t know, specifically in regards to training program design, which is really a form of art. I’m two workouts into this program and already I feel FANTASTIC. Not only am I learning a lot about my body and program design, but following a newinteresting  workout program is highly motivating.
    Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 12.02.04 PM.png

One thing I need to improve on is setting boundaries for myself. In addition to planning time to get things done on my calendar, I really need to plan time off and time for non-fitness, relaxing activities. Doing fitness/career related tasks all day every day is a surefire way for me to burnout. This is where playing with my dog, Bug, and spending time with my family and boyfriend come into play.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

How is your year going? What are you doing to stay sane, balanced, and motivated while pursuing your career, goals, etc?

 

DIY Healthy Diet

 

The-Problems-With-Low-Calorie-Diets-Article

Many of us find ourselves with more than ideal amounts of body fat. Listening to a Physique Science Radio podcast the other day, Layne Norton said something that resounded with me; talking about the national obesity problem he stated that, contrary to what one may think, we are actually really good at losing weight. Many obese or overweight people lose a significant amount of weight at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, statistics show that over 90% will gain it back within 3 years. What’s the problem?

Sustainability

Can you see yourself eating this way in 5 years?

The best diet is the one you can stick to [forever].

Diet-recipes34.jpg

If you’ve had success (weight loss) on diet xyz but gained the weight back, that diet didn’t work. It wasn’t sustainable.

This is why I’m a fan of the “moderation” approach, also called flexible dieting or if it fits your macros (IIFYM). No food is off limits and neither is the occasional alcoholic beverage. In my experience, restricting or excluding foods from a diet tends to increase cravings for them and the chances of binging on them at some point in the future.

dietcycle

Life is too short to exclude delicious foods. Sometimes, I want to enjoy a homemade spaghetti dinner with my family, a glass of wine with a fancy dinner, or a sundae with more whipped cream than ice cream. More so, I definitely do not want to feel guilty.

In this article I’m going to outline the steps I use with myself and clients to change eating habits for the better.

Steps to a Sustainable Diet

Take your time with these tasks. Spend at least one week focusing on each step, and don’t be afraid to hang out on one level for a month, a couple months, or a few years.

Step 1: Track Food Intake

Record food amounts as accurately as you can, using measuring cups or a food scale when available. Tracking food, while tedious, gets you acquainted with the amount of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fat) associated with certain foods as well as the average amount of macronutrients and calories you consume on a day to day basis.

Tips:

  • Use a phone app such as MyFitnessPal or MyMacros+
    IMG_5863
  • Don’t judge yourself for what or how much you eat. You are an amazing, awesome person–that has nothing to do with what or how much food you eat! Approach this like a scientist: observe your food habits with objectivity and without emotion. There are no “right” or “wrong” foods or amounts.
  • Consider purchasing a food scale that measures food in grams and ounces

Step 2: Track Food Intake + Meet Protein Goal

Continue tracking food. In addition to this, gradually increase your protein on a daily basis up to your target amount.

Protein is one of three macronutrients in food (carbohydrates and fats are the other two). Protein is what muscles are made of, and consuming protein helps fuel, build, and repair muscle during and after workouts.  Protein increases satiety, and it is also very difficult for the body to store protein as fat.

To calculate target protein, multiply current body weight in pounds by 0.8 to 1.0 (0.8 if not very active, 1.0 if you enjoy protein or workout regularly) and the product is the number of grams of protein you should eat in a day. For example, for a person who weighs 150 pounds, the daily protein goal is 120 grams if he or she does not workout regularly and 150grams if he or she does.

Protein sources (not limited to): chicken, tilapia, tuna, salmon, really any fish, eggs, egg whites, jerky, turkey, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, whey.

images

Tips:

  • Center each meal around a protein source
  • Aim to consume 20-40 grams of protein at a time
  • Protein shakes or smoothies are a convenient way to get more protein
  • Make a list of protein sources you like to eat and keep your pantry stocked!

Step 3: Energy Balance and Macronutrients
Track Food +Meet Protein Goal + Meet Calorie Goal

Continue tracking your food and meeting your protein goal. Additionally, hit a daily Calorie goal. Keep reading to learn how to calculate yours.

Eric-Helms-Muscle-Strength-Nutrition-Pyramid

The foundation of the “nutrition pyramid” is energy balance. Energy refers to Calories. The goal is balancing the amount of Calories one expends during the day with the amount of Calories consumed or slightly altering them to gain or lose weight.

BalCalories2

To find a starting point for your daily Calories, multiply your current body weight by 13, 14, or 15, depending on your level of daily activity (low activity or sedentary job=13, high activity or active job=15). If your goal is to lose some weight, multiply by 13.

Example: 150lb X 13 = 1,950 Calories

Protein has 4 Calories (energy units) per gram, so if a 150 pound individual is eating 150 grams of protein, he or she is consuming 600 Calories of energy. Subtracting this amount from the daily Calorie goal: 1,950-600 = 1350 Calories remaining to be “spent” on the other macronutrients, carbohydrates and fats.

Step 4: Micronutrients
1 Whole Food Meal Each Day + 1 Serving of Veggies

In addition to performing the previous 3 steps’ tasks, incorporate one meal comprised of whole food ingredients each day and one serving of veggies. For bonus points, have your serving of veggies with your whole foods meal.

Whole foods: foods that contain only 1 ingredient and haven’t been processed by mankind in any way.

  • Salmon, asparagus, and a baked red potato with a little butter (real butter)
  • Eggs/egg whites, walnuts, green chard, and coffee with coconut oil
  • Salad with canned tuna, sunflower seeds, and vinaigrette

Vegetables: spinach, kale, asparagus, peas, corn, chard, squash, zucchini, broccoli, radishes, and more. Boil, roast, steam, or sauté them and season with salt, pepper, garlic, etc.

Unknown.jpeg

Work up to eating a couple servings of veggies each day (most days) and consuming mostly whole foods with a few “fun” foods here and there.


Consistency, not perfection, in each of these steps will help improve your dietary habits. Keep things simple, don’t over think the minutiae, and enjoy foods you like!

For more reading, check out Sohee Lee’s Website or her How to Count Macros e-book.

What is your sustainable diet like?

Let me know if you give this a shot!

The Often Overlooked Warm up

Arrive at gym. Check-in at the front desk.  Walk to treadmill. Start running.
Arrive at gym. Check-in at the front desk. Walk to bench press. Perform working sets of exercise.
What’s missing here? The warm up! And by “warmup” I don’t mean 3 arm circles before benching or a 5 second quad stretch and toe-touch before running.

Why should you warm up?

It took me a few years of working out before I started to value my warm up. I neglected it because 1) I didn’t know how to warm up, and 2) I “couldn’t” spare the time before hitting the weights. Not warming up all that time is probably one of the biggest reasons I acquired so many injuries, aches, and pains along the way. Here are some benefits to having a proper warm up:

  • Increases body temperature (literally warms up the body)
  • Lubricates joints
  • Engages the nervous system (did you know a lot of our strength gains are attributed to the nervous system?)
  • Muscle flexibility, extensibility, and ability to achieve a full range of motion
  • Educates the body about or solidifies proper movement patterns
  • Focuses the mind on the workout ahead
  • Brings awareness into the body
  • Prevents injuries

My weightlifting journey and how my warmups have progressed:

I’ve always believed I can do anything I put my mind to, and during my freshman year at UCLA, I decided to become a runner like my mom and what better, extreme way than to sign up for a marathon. I started training in January, running the longest distance I could, 1 mile. I ran my booty off over the next 5 months, and in June, I completed the marathon. I was a runner. Well, turns out, I can run, I just don’t like to. After finishing that marathon, I had no desire to run that much ever again. So, I started weight lifting (long tangent there, I know, I’m going to talk about warm ups now), and here I am almost 6 years later.
31329_1356022814400_6742825_n

At first, there were no warm ups in my routine. It wasn’t too big of a deal, I suppose, because I was 19 years old and lifting relatively low weights. As my lifts got heavier, I started including one warm up set at about 50% of my “work” weight in the first exercise of my workout. Next, I got a little crazy (hint: sarcasm) and added 3 whole minutes of cardio before embarking on my one warmup set. Then, 3-5 minutes of cardio, foam rolling, and a warmup set. Currently, I’ve cut out the cardio, and I include foam rolling/small ball rolling and 4-8 mobility drills in my warm up before some lighter sets on my first exercise (only if it’s a heavy lift).

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is a great way to increase circulation and flexibility/extensibility before a workout and break up adhesions in muscle tissue. It’s a better alternative to traditional stretching (holding a static position for 30 seconds) before a workout because traditional stretching has been shown to make muscles too lax (not elastic enough) when done before resistance training and can lead to decreases in strength and greater risk of injury.

If you’ve been reading a lot of my posts, you should know by now that I’m a huge fan of Eric Cressey’s coaching and articles. Here is his video of a great foam roll/small ball rolling series to include before each workout. I do this on each side of the body (give or take some of the small ball exercises and the pec foam rolling) for 10-15 seconds per body part before each strength training workout. It may take a long time to perform for the first week or two, but eventually this becomes a pretty quick routine. One tip: to avoid placing the lower back in a bad position (excessively arched), stay on your elbows when rolling in the face down positions.

This foam rolling routine can be performed any time during the day but should be done at least once a day on workout days. I find it easiest to include in my warm up.

To read more about foam rolling and how it benefits the body, check out one of Eric Cressey’s articles here.

Mobility Drills

These are dynamic movements (meaning, they aren’t held like a traditional stretch) that target different regions of the body and various movement patterns. This is a good place to put a little work into personal deficits (for me, raising my shoulders overhead) and commonly injured areas. I tend to scour Eric Cressey’s articles for mobility drills that fit my current needs. A simple Google search of “Eric Cressey [body part] mobility” tends to bring up good exercises. I also use Kelly Starrett, Bret Contreras, Sohee Lee, and Layne Norton as resources for warm up drills.

Top areas of the body to address during warm up are:

  • Ankle Mobility  (1 of these should suffice)
    • Wall Ankle Mobilization with Adduction/Abduction
    • Rocking Ankle Mobility
  • Thoracic Spine Mobility (1-2 of these, maybe 3 if it’s a weakness or an upper body day)
    • Bench T-Spine Mobilization
    • Back to Wall Shoulder Flexion
    • Bent Over T-Spine Rotation
    • Side Lying Windmill
  • Hip Mobility (3-4 exercises)
    • Wall Hip Flexor Mobilization
    • Supine Bridge with Reach
    • Yoga Pushup
    • Spiderman with Hip lift and Overhead Reach
    • Bowler Squat
    • Alternating Lunge with Overhead reach (Hips and T-Spine)

For any of these exercises, perform 5-8 reps (per side), slow and controlled. Some other tips for efficient warm up structure: Order the exercises from those done on the floor to those done standing to those done moving and go from single-joint exercises to compound/multi-joint ones. For a faster warm up, stick to the compound drills that hit multiple joint targets, like the alternating lunge with overhead reach.

My Current Warm Up:

To be honest, I can’t take credit for it; I found it in one of Sohee Lee’s articles. It’s done wonders for keeping me injury free this last month. I’m often modifying it, though, adding and subtracting certain drills to fit my specific needs. This is a great place to start.

Screen-Shot-2012-07-06-at-9.19.46-PM1-300x222.png

A. Bird dogs X5/side

B. Rocking Ankle Mobility X5/side
(See video above)

C. Wall Hip Flexor Mobilization X8/side
(also in a video above)

D. Bent over T-spine Rotation X5/side
(video above)

E. Back to Wall Shoulder Flexion X8
(video above)

F. Glute Wall March with Iso Holds 2 X 5sec hold/side

G. Bowler Squat X5/side
(Video above)

H. Cradle walk to spiderman with hip lift and reach X5/side
(Video above)

This warmup takes 15-20 minutes, and by the time I’m finished, I’m sweaty, mobile, and ready to kick ass with my lifts.

For more reading about warm ups check out Eric Cressey’s 6 Characteristics of a Good Dynamic Warm-up.

What is your warm up? Let me know if you give mine a try!

Wednesday Workouts Body & Mind

Body Workout

My current workout schedule is a 4 day resistance training split with one day of interval cardio per week. My split is:
-Upper Body
-Lower Body
-Full Body A
-Full Body B
and my focuses are increasing strength on bench press and deadlift and increasing repetitions on pull-ups. I’m using a programing technique called daily undulating periodization for increasing strength on the deadlift and bench press, so I include both lifts in two workouts each week and for each lift, I have one heavy day and one lighter day each week as well. My hope is that increasing my frequency of performing these lifts will result in some awesome strength gains!

Here is the workout I did yesterday, my upper body workout. I did these exercises after my 15-20 minute warm up routine that involves foam rolling and 8-10 dynamic stretches or mobility drills. This workout took about 70 minutes including the warmup.

A. BB Bench Press (Heavy) 5-6 X 1-3 Reps
B. Pullups 3 X Max Reps
C. Plank (arms on airex mat, Legs in TRX) 3 X60”
D. Inverted Row (TRX) 3 X 8-10 reps
E1. DB Bicep Curls 3 X 8-12 reps
E2. Bench Dips 3 X 10-15 Reps
E3. Prone T’s 3 X 10-15 Reps

To explain some of my shorthand: BB=Barbell, DB=dumbbell, exercises with the same letter (E) are performed in sequence like a circuit, and the first numbers to the left of the “X” are the number of sets.

Strangely, in the aftermath of my workout, I’ve been most sore in my chest (probably from the heavy bench press) and my mid/lower traps (from the prone T’s, the lightest exercise on there, but truly a weak point for me).

Mind Workout

Becoming the best fitness coach I  can be involves continuously learning. I’m currently reading Training for Strength by Chris Beardsley. It’s a review of the scientific research studies that exist on strength training.

training-for-strength-1-638

My other favorite brain-stimulation lately is the Physique Science Radio podcast hosted by Layne Norton and Sohee Lee. It’s free. I stream it in my car through soundcloud and nerd-out on their fitness Q&As and interviews with notable exercise physiologists, nutritionists, and fitness psychologists.

I’d encourage you to check out either, but especially the podcasts, and always be learning (through reputable sources)!