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Month: March 2015

Improve your balance & core strength

Improve your balance & core strength

As we mentioned last week, core strength is something that is highly sought after in our clients. Little do they know, your core is made up of more than just the abdominals. While the abdominals are a large part of the core, other muscles include the Multifudus (muscles that run between the vertebra in the the spine), Gluteus Maximus, Medius and Minimus, Pelvic Floor Muscles as well as the Scapular Stabilizers. So in reality, your core is a lot larger and more intricate than you think.

There are many bodyweight exercises you can do to activate and strengthen your core muscles however we think it is always important to start with the absolute basic exercises: holding a plank, wood choppers, or standing core work.
Our client Sandra who we introduced to you a few weeks ago needed to work on her core strength as well as her balance so we decided to whip out our HumanX Gear Balance Trainer. This small balance pad is a great tool you can use in many ways but as we mentioned above it is always smart to start with just your body weight, and add extra weight as needed.
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We had Sandra perform a couple different exercises with the Balance Trainer pad which is small enough to fit in your gym bag! We started off with a standing single-leg front raise. First we had Sandra just work on getting her balance on one foot on the pad (believe it or not that alone is a great core activator). We had her hold her balance for as long as she could for a few sets before giving her a 10lb weight to hold. She then performed 3 sets of 10 front raises WHILE still balancing on one foot-definitely one of those things where it LOOKS way easier than it actually is! After switching to the other leg, we had Sandra perform exercise #2 which was your basic plank however we slipped the Balance Trainer under her feet to create an unstable surface. This increased the intensity of the exercise just enough to make what usually is an easy 45 second plank a little more of a challenge. To increase the intensity even more you can use two Balance Trainer’s (one under each leg).
Check out the video HERE
Try adding in these 2 core burners at the end of your next workout for a finisher. We promise this will not only give you a strong core of steel, but you will notice improvements in your other lifts, daily activities and all around fitness level.
Until next time,
Alessandra & Josh
What you need to know about rest day

What you need to know about rest day

rest day

We’ve all seen the funny pictures on Instagram. Rest day… Who needs it? This is becoming a more widely asked, and speculated, question around the fitness community. Routines are being taken to new extremes each day. And this is good, because it means we are pushing our limits to new heights. You can’t discover how far your body can actually go until you push past every threshold. And here comes the but… BUT there are limitations on how long you can push your body that hard.

People have started questioning whether there was any truth to the concept of “overtraining”. That is where these pictures, articles, and discussions gained momentum. A main argument was that if you feel good and you aren’t sore, your recovery time has reduced and you can now workout more frequently on less rest (if any). But there are some other factors being overlooked that don’t have to do with how your muscles are feeling today. Your body is a very, very complicated thing. So I’ll get into what those other factors are in a second but first I want to ask you if you’ve felt any of these lately, or if you remember having any of these after a week where you tried pushing yourself to a new extreme..

Your outsides:

Persistent muscle soreness (not your regular “that was one hell of a workout” soreness but the kind that lasts longer than it was supposed to), elevated resting heart rate, past injuries begin hurting again or you are recognizing new pain, not getting as good of a pump or not feeling as refreshed after a workout (you don’t get that “ahh” moment when you’re done), weight loss, stuck in a plateau (working hard but haven’t made any progress)

Your insides:

Irritability, depression, loss of appetite, loss of motivation, fatigue throughout the day, not mentally sharp- can’t focus and can’t concentrate well, insomnia (this is a big one.. trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.. very restless), lack of interest, getting sick (cold/flu)

These are all signs that you aren’t getting enough rest AKA overtraining! But your body was feeling so good and you thought that removing that rest day was the only way to capitalize on it. Well your body was feeling good because you had a great balance of exercise and rest. Now it’s all exercise and there is no balance.  Your body is constantly being broken down when you workout, but without rest, it doesn’t get to rebuild itself. So let’s breakdown this process. Here is the point of working out in a nutshell. Workout- breakdown body. Rest- recovery and growth. Workout- breakdown body. Rest- recovery and growth. RESULT- a stronger, healthier body. Now here is overtraining in a nutshell. Workout- breakdown body. Workout- breakdown body. Workout- breakdown body. Do you get the picture? There is no rebuild. You are breaking down what is still broken down and actually making yourself WEAKER! Now if that counter-productivity isn’t frustrating, I don’t know what is.

Earlier I mentioned that there was more to this concept that your muscles and your body feeling good. Working out places a HUGE stress on your central nervous system, or CNS. The CNS is responsible for controlling muscular contractions. When this becomes fatigued, it creates a reduction in the output of the motor control regions in the brain. This, in essence, causes a decrease in performance. Every time you move, your brain has nerve impulses generated by chemical activity. After intense training, that neural drive is reduced. So even if your muscles feel great, that workout also took a toll on your CNS.

So all of those “outside” effects may have made sense to you as general side effects of working out, but those “inside” effects may have seemed a little outside the box. Well that’s all tied into everything else that overtraining affects that often gets overlooked. Even something like getting sick seems silly, but when you place that added stress on your body with no recovery, everything starts to breakdown and your immune system gets much weaker, because yet again, YOUR BODY CANT RECOVER WHEN YOU ARE CONSTANTLY BREAKING IT DOWN.

I won’t pretend I’ve never pushed my boundaries and tried to go without rest days. I did. I love pushing my body to new levels. It’s an addiction. I want to see how far I can go in everything I do. And in our minds, taking a day off seems like a wasted day. But we have to remind ourselves, rest is just as important as the workout because the workout is where we break ourselves down, and the rest day is where our bodies recover and get STRONGER. Yep, that lazy day you take every week… That’s the day you are getting better at everything you worked so hard at. That doesn’t mean lay in bed 6 days a week… Balance…

Push your body to it’s limit and find YOUR perfect balance. For myself, and many others, a 3 days on 1 day off schedule is extremely effective. You are still working out 6 days a week, but never more than 3 days in a row. For others, a 2 on 1 off 2 on 2 off schedule works better. As with everything else, we are all created differently with different needs. Play around with it. If you feel great, it’s working.

Until next time,

~Josh

Fit Fast Food- For those who live life on the go

Fit Fast Food- For those who live life on the go

No fast food

For some of us, it’s just a busy day here and there, but for others, busy is their entire life. There are no breaks for these people. Whether it’s work or family or keeping up with the kids’ schedules on top of their own. But in both of these instances, how can we survive without caving in to fast food? And it’s not because they crave it, but because that is simply the only food that they have time to take in. Fast food is the go-to for food on the go. What other options do we have?

Well fortunately, there are options that allow you to drive past McDonalds without worrying about what you’re going to have for lunch. Yes, they are going to take a little planning and a little preparation, but they are going to keep you healthy and happy for the long run.

Now with this, I am also considering the fact that it isn’t just getting the food that is consuming, some people just don’t have time to take a break and EAT it. I get that. Busy meetings, busy driving, busy finishing projects. So it isn’t just meal prep Sundays that are going to save you. There is more planning to be done on WHAT you’re making and what you’re buying.

To give you examples, I’m going to tell you what I do. But what I do is pretty extreme (and unreasonable) so I will follow that up with some more palatable options. For starters, I stock up on liquid egg whites. I have ten first thing in the morning to go with one and a half cups of oats. Now I know what you’re thinking, “how is eating ten egg whites and a big ass bowl of oats quick and easy?” It’s not. I don’t eat that. I DRINK that. I don’t cook the egg whites, I just drink the carton. (they’re pasteurized) And I hate eating oats. It takes way too long and I’m uncomfortably full after eating that many. So I blend them up into a fine powder, mix it with water, and drink that too. Overall, that’s breakfast in under 5 minutes- prepared and eaten. (honestly it takes me about 2 minutes… I chug and get it over with) My next meal is usually my pre-workout. That’s just a protein shake and some simple carbs. It could be some fruit, another smaller serving of oats coupled with Gatorade. Sometimes it’s a couple of Poptarts. My post-workout is another protein shake and a lot more simple carbs- my favorites are gummy bears or Gatorade. They are composed highly of dextrose, a sugar that your body absorbs almost immediately, which helps replenish your muscle glycogen and get you recovered ASAP. I’ll follow that up a couple hours later with a solid protein this time. This isn’t much of a “quick meal” but I have a little more time to eat it and I had my quick meals earlier in the day. This time it’s usually chicken and rice or a sweet potato. The remainder of my meals will consist of one more carton of egg whites (yes I drink 20 egg whites per day) and another solid protein and then finish my day usually with a slower digesting protein like greek yogurt or cottage cheese. But you get the idea. The egg whites are my “go-to” for when I’m on the run. I can throw down a carton while I’m driving somewhere and then all I have to worry about is a few minutes to eat my carbs, rather than finding 15-20 minutes to eat an entire meal.

Now I get that most people can’t stomach going “Rocky style” and throwing back some liquid eggs. So here are a couple options for your quick “go-to” for those times during the day when you would otherwise be skipping or eating nasty fast foods.

-Greek Yogurt. This is a protein punch that won’t take you long to eat. One of these usually has around 15-20 grams of protein. So depending on your needs, pack one or two of these and you’re golden.

-Probiotic Smoothie. Now this one has an asterisk next to it. These are the yogurt smoothies you see in the store. Keefer is the brand I go with. They are another good, quick protein sources, but they usually also come with a lot of sugar. So if this is going to be one of your choices, it needs to be first thing in the morning or pre/post workout. During these times, your body can use that sugar to replenish your body rather than store that unused energy as fat.

-Cottage cheese. Sticking in the same consistency as yogurt. Another snack that is quick to go down and high in protein, low in fat.

-Protein shake. Depending on the time of day, you will need specific types of protein. Early in the morning, pre and post workout, you can go with your standard whey protein. This is the fastest digesting and those are the times when your body will need to absorb it quickly. In the middle of the day, you are going to want a slower digesting blend. A lot of mixes will include whey, egg, and casein protein to give you a fast, medium, and slower digesting protein to sustain your body for longer. Before bed, casein is your go-to protein. This is your slowest digesting protein and will help your body avoid eating that hard-earned muscle from when you close your eyes until you eat breakfast in the morning.

These may not be the flashiest choices, but they will help you avoid skipping meals during your busy day and allow you to drive past the fast food chains. And hey, if you’re feeling like a champ, chug a glass of egg whites and tag us in your video on Instagram! …and we fade out to the Rocky theme song…

Until next time,

~Josh

Good Food vs. Bad Food

Good Food vs. Bad Food

 

good vs. bad Food

What exactly makes a food “good” to you? What makes something “bad”? Somewhere down the line we started labeling foods in our heads as being good or bad and I think that it not only has caused more confusion in the nutrition world, but has forced us to diet in unhealthy ways that we do not particularly enjoy. In my eyes, there is no such thing as good/bad foods. Are some foods more nutrient dense than others? Sure. But what really matters is the macronutrient content of the food.

Let’s start with a VERY basic nutrition lesson:

Every single thing you put into your body is made up of a combination of either protein, carbs or fat aka your macronutrients.

Protein and carbs both have 4 calories per gram while fat has 9 calories per gram. (For the record alcohol has 7 calories per gram so keep that in mind the next time you have a drink!)

Micronutrients are also essential in your diet and consist of your vitamins and minerals (think magnesium, iron, calcium, etc).

Every single person requires a different amount of macros depending on their current body weight, what their goals are and their activity level. For example, someone who is sedentary the majority of their day will not need as many calories as someone who is on the go all day. This is why some diet plans work for some people and not others. There is not ONE magic plan that is going to work for everyone.

This is why here at SD Evolution we prescribe our clients macro-based nutrition. This means we personally calculate your macros for YOUR body. We have found that a scientific, personal approach leads to a successful, sustainable diet created by you. Check out more info about what we offer for nutrition programs HERE.

So now that you know what macros are, how is this relevant? Well, once you have your personally calculated macronutrients for your body, you can choose to fill your day with ANY type of food that you enjoy…as long as you hit your numbers by the end of the day. Having good/bad or clean/dirty foods goes out the window. While we recommend that 80% of your diet comes from nutrient dense foods, that leaves you with 20% of freedom. That cookie you’ve been craving? Go for it. This method is known as Flexible Dieting and will allow you to achieve your goals in a more sustainable, less miserable way. There are absolutely no restrictions with Flexible Dieting. You can choose to eat whatever it is that you are craving, like I said, as long as it “fits“. This lifestyle works for SO many people whether your goal is fat-loss, maintenance or even weight gain. I personally have been Flexible Dieting for about 4 months now and not only have I almost doubled my daily caloric intake (by Reverse Dieting or slowly adding in calories each week), but I am enjoying life so much more than when I was clean eating. I don’t limit myself at family parties, I got to enjoy my own birthday cake this year unlike last year when I made myself eat a protein cake because REAL cake wasn’t “allowed“, and I am still achieving all of my fitness goals!

I didn’t believe it either at first but living a life where I no longer limit my food intake, no longer label foods as good or bad, and no longer restrict any type of food from my diet has been a huge blessing. I never thought in a million years I could eat a Pop Tart every single day (as well as chicken and PLENTY of vegetables) and still somehow be losing weight and inches. I have learned that life is all about balance. Pushing yourself too far in any direction can be damaging so finding that middle-ground in every aspect of your life can be SO fulfilling. With this I hope I have left you at LEAST curious about this newer method of dieting. It has 100% changed my life and so many of our clients lives already. Are you ready to hop on the bandwagon of freedom?

As always, email me at FitnessTeam@sd-evolution.com for more information or if you have personal questions.

~Alessandra

Building a strong, defined core: What it takes

Building a strong, defined core: What it takes

As personal trainers, one of the main things most of our clients want is a six pack or visible abs. This goal is more attainable for some people simply because of genetics and having abs usually means having a low percentage of body fat. What some people fail to realize is that although abs are made visible in the kitchen, they are certainly built in the gym through a variety of exercises. The abdominals are in fact a muscle, so you should train them as you would any other muscle if you want them to grow. Weighted hypertrophy work as well as bodyweight exercises combined can be the recipe for success when building a six pack. When working with our clients, we like to challenge them with new ways to work their abs because let’s face it…the average crunch can get quite boring.

 

Our client Tiffany who we introduced to you a few weeks ago came to us with the goal of weightloss as well as strengthening her upper body. While we have achieved both of these goals during our time training together, she had one more area she wanted to improve. She also expressed to us her desire for more definition in her stomach area however she said after taking a core-focused group exercise class she had trouble engaging her core and wasn’t feeling the exercises working her abdominals. As soon as she stated this I had a solution to her problem which involved using the HumanX Gear AbX as an assistant. This addition to your workout routine can take the average crunch and not only increase the intensity, but provide comfort by supporting the lumbar spine.

Here is Alessandra with Tiffany during one of their sessions performing a cross-crunch on the AbX as well as a full sit-up:

Tiffany stated immediately that she felt a huge difference and actually felt that her core was activated while performing these two exercises to attack the abdominals. Her spine was supported yet she was still being challenged since the curved AbX allows her to extend back further than if she were laying on a flat surface making what is a somewhat easy exercise for most more advanced. Keep in mind that in order to make your developed abs visible, you need to be following a proper nutrition plan that will help you shed body fat. Luckily here at SD Evolution, we offer online training programs, nutritional guidance, as well as macro-based nutrition programs so that your dreams of having that desired, defined core can finally become a reality. Having a strong core is not only aesthetically pleasing, it will also allow you to perform other exercises better with increased stability. A strong core should be YOUR next fitness goal. What will you do to achieve it?

Until next time fitness warriors,

Alessandra

One of the most important things missing from your daily workout

One of the most important things missing from your daily workout

Every day we witness bodybuilders, runners, powerlifters and your average Mom or Dad walking into the gym, jumping on the treadmill, cable machine or in the squat rack performing their workout and immediately leaving. Little do they know there is one key component missing from their workout: stretching.

Stretching, whether dynamic or static is important before and after a workout to ensure a proper warm-up and cool down. Many individuals skip this portion usually because they say that they don’t have the time, but maybe we can convince YOU to reconsider  that with this post before you pull a hammy or worse.

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A proper dynamic stretch and warm-up is essential for al types of athletes in the gym ESPECIALLY those who spend the majority of their day sedentary at their desk job. We suggest starting off your session with a good foam roll hitting all of the large muscle groups of the body to loosen things up a bit. From there incorporating a dynamic warm-up will not only increase your heart rate and get that blood pumping throughout the entire body, but you will give your joints a chance to loosen up allowing you to perform your scheduled workout at your very best. What exactly constitutes a dynamic warm-up? Here’s a few of our favorite exercises that should only add about 10-15 minutes to your workout:

  • Child’s pose diaphragmatic breathing: This will ignite the core muscles which as we know are key to almost every type of workout. Sit back into child’s pose and take about 8-10 deep breaths. 
  • Glute Bridge: Fire up the glute muscles which tend to be inactive throughout the day if you are sitting a lot. Perform 10-15 reps. 
  • Bear Crawl Hold: The Bear Crawl is a great exercise to stabilize the core and turning it into an isometric hold will brace your abdominal wall preparing you for the battle you are about to fight with your body. 
  • Walking lunges with an overhead reach: When reaching up, make sure you tilt slightly toward your front leg to stretch the hip flexor. 
  • Butt kickers: Exactly what they sound like- kick that butt! 
  • Alternating side lunges: Perform about 10 reps per leg. 
  • Inch worms: One of our favorite exercises to give our clients. These warm-up the arms, shoulders, core and give a nice stretch to the hamstrings. Total body!

Now that we have your warm-up covered, it’s time to go over what you should be doing post-workout. We do in fact recommend foam rolling the entire body again if time permits, however if you need to bounce out of the gym quickly make sure to perform some static stretching. What does that mean? Instead of dynamically moving to stretch your muscles, now you are going to hold the position for about 20-30 seconds. Feel free to give your entire body a good stretch or at the minimum stretch out the body parts that you worked that day. For example, if you had an intense leg day make sure to stretch the hamstrings, quads, abductors and adductors post-workout. The HumanX Gear Stretch Rope is an awesome assistant for those who may not be very flexible. Can’t touch your toes? This guy would be a great purchase for you- and the best part? It’s only $15! This Stretch Rope is a great tool to toss in your gym bag not only to stretch but to use as a guide for your plyometric exercises. Josh recently worked with our client Dave on plyometric movements using the rope as a tool. Check out what they did here:

 

 

 

Our featured client of the week: Dave

Our featured client of the week: Dave

Our third client we want to feature this week is also someone who started off just taking our Bootcamp classes weekly. At 52 years old, Dave Rogers is not only very athletic, but has a passion for health. Like us, he was born in New England yet migrated to sunny San Diego in 2012. As an engineer, Dave like so many other Americans sits at his desk for the majority of the day so coming to us for his health and fitness needs was a priority for him.

dave 1

Dave’s goals are to lose body fat, increase muscle mass and of course just MOVE as much as possible. Dave also wants to focus on getting his endurance and stamina up so he can keep up with his active 9 year old. Personal motivation can be considered a gift. Some people have it and some people don’t but at SD Evolution we teach you how to get it. Here is a direct quote from Dave:

While I’ve held memberships at gyms in the past, staying individually motivated has been a challenge. I have found that I’m more likely to stay on track with directed group or individual workouts. The SD Evolution Bootcamp sessions have been great in that respect, bringing to the table a lot of positive support and weekly programs that are varied, fun and challenging. I am feeling energized and am amazed at the difference in how I feel after just the first month!

As we mentioned, Dave started with Bootcamps but eventually wanted more specific training so we got him started with sessions twice per week. Josh has used the HumanX Gear Power Amp xXx Cables, Stretch Rope and 20b Weighted Vest with Dave to help him shed that weight and increase his stamina.

Here is a quick look into one of Dave’s sessions with Josh using the Power Amp Cables for upper body resistance:

SD Evolution Workout of the Week sponsored by HumanX Gear

 

Stay tuned for an update on Dave’s progress!

~Josh & Alessandra