Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How to Discover Your Destiny

Guest blog from my good friend, Ryan Cook. Be sure to check out his blog as he has lots of great info on there!

While I was reading today, I came across 8 steps to discover your destiny. Although, I know step processes don't always work, i.e., '4 easy steps to lose weight', '5 steps to financial freedom' and so on, I thought these were pretty close to a good 'step' program. Good stuff:
  • Think about the desires of your heart, not what someone else wants you to do, or the fleeting fantasies of your mind - Ps. 37:3-4
  • Determine what stirs your passion, drive and zeal - John 2:17
  • Know what gifts and talents flow naturally through you - Rom. 12:4-6
  • Seek counsel from mature friends, both Christian and non-christian and leaders - Prov. 11:14; 18:1
  • Listen to the witness of the Holy Spirit in your spirit - Rom. 8:14
  • Understand what you can or can't give yourself 100% in order to accomplish it - 1John 3:16
  • Know what produces good fruit in your life - Matt. 12:33
  • Follow the peace of God inside you - Col. 3:15



Monday, August 30, 2010

Getting Your Mind Right

Have you ever heard the expression, "What you see is what you get?" It's true. What you see really is what you get. There's no way around it. Perception is reality. "What You See Determines Who You'll Be." Never forget that.

Until you get your mind right, you'll never be able to get your life right. Why? Because nothing in your life can exceed your level of thinking. Your reality cannot supersede your mentality. So, if you want bigger and better results, then you've got to get a bigger and better vision for your life. As my good friend and colleague Todd Durkin, CSCS - owner of Fitness Quest 10 (San Diego, CA) says, "Do something that scares you" - meaning to do something that is bigger than you think is possible! You can think your way to a whole new plateau or to an all-time low. Which will it be?

You can't constantly think thoughts of doom and gloom and expect sunshine and growth. That defies God's natural laws. You see, whatever you plant will determine your harvest. If you constantly sow negativity through your words, thoughts, and actions, you'll reap a negative harvest. However, if you sow optimism by consistently choosing to embrace a bright and positive outlook, you'll produce better results in your life.

What you see truly is what you get.

So, let me ask you something. When you look at your circumstances what do you see? Think about it now. It's important to examine your thought life. Are you too negative? If so, ask God to work on your mentality.

Remember, mind transformation always precedes life transformation, " ...but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2b NIV).

I know that all your circumstances may not look favorable right now. But how do you expect things to change if you consistently speak death, destruction, doom, and gloom over your life? Stop poisoning yourself with your tongue. Stop diminishing your sense of worth. Stop stifling your creativity. Stop cursing your future.

Change the way you look at things. Rather than always seeing the glass as "half empty," begin seeing it as "half full." Focus on the good things. Stop expecting the worst while praying for the best.

I want to leave you with this encouragement today: "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things" (Philippians 4:8 NIV).

Your future hangs in the balance. In which direction will you swing the pendulum? Toward the negative or the positive? Only you can decide.

May you be empowered to prosper!


Saturday, August 28, 2010

How To Fix Your Aches and Pains While Warming Up

Guest blog from my friend and colleague Luka Hocevar, CSCS, elite fitness trainer & owner of Hocevar Performance (Renton, WA)

If you hang around training forums on any reputable training site, you’ll notice that the highest percentage of questions is directed towards fixing aches and pains (for example, go to the EliteFTS site and you will see the Q & A section filled with questions about fixing injuries, aches and pains).

The truth is that a large number of the aches and pains people experience whether before, during or after training (especially if you’re not doing any training) are a direct result of bad posture, overcompensation, repetitive movement, tightness, weakness, muscles that don’t activate, a crappy training program, etc.

Many of the issues you may be experiencing can be fixed without having to go under the knife or visit a sacred shaman in the mountains of Tibet. What you do need is a training program that is catered towards your goals and addresses any issues you are experiencing.

While I will not go into the strength training and conditioning aspects of the program, I will dive into the dynamic warm-ups that we use at Hocevar Performance to fix the problems that our clients may be experiencing (while I’m writing this I also want to point out how important it is to refer out when necessary as you cannot fix everything and you should always have your clients best interests at heart….this also means you should have a great network of PT therapists, ART guys or anyone else that can help your clients).

Our dynamic warm-ups address (not always in that order):

- Tissue quality (self myofascial release with foam roll, lacrosse ball, etc.)

- Flexibility

- Mobility

- Activation

- Movement

Most of the time pain and discomfort in the body is present because there is a lack of one or more of the above. Just as one issue can cause another, fixing one issue can correct multiple problems (everything in the kinetic chain can affect other variables).

Dynamic warm-ups can and should be used in multiple situations; at Hocevar Performance we use them for the following:

1. Warming Up – Wow, didn’t see that one coming, huh? The main reason we use the dynamic warm-ups is to get the body prepared for the best training session possible. This means improving tissue quality, raising core temperature and getting the blood flow going as well as lengthening tight muscles, activating dormant ones and exciting the nervous system.

2. Assessments – I will resort to the BETA (Building The Efficient Athlete) and the FMS (Functional Movement Screen) to asses clients but I found a great way to assess clients is putting them through some of the movements we use as our dynamic warm ups.

3. Corrective Exercise – Almost everyone has issues so the dynamic warm ups includes exercises that address those issues. Who says you cannot integrate one into another. For clients that are coming out of physical therapy, we will extend the dynamic warm ups so that it becomes part of their training. Since they are usually more de-conditioned, they will provide enough of a training stimulus.

4. De-load Weeks – We will make the warm ups take over much of our training on de-load weeks. This way we can recover as well as address any issues present.

5. Fillers – Fillers are dynamic warm up exercises that will be used in between sets during the strength training session. Fillers can be one exercise or a couple of exercises. This is a great way to get in some more exercises that will help fix the clients issues while they are waiting around to do the next set (this definitely goes for sets with longer breaks).

To give you an idea of how some of the warm-ups look like I’m posting a couple of dynamic warm-ups that we use before our upper and lower body training sessions:

We would foam roll the lower body thorougly before we would start with the warm-ups…

Alternating Atlas Lunges x 5/each

Glute Stretch into Cosack Squat x 6

RF Mobilizations x 5/each

Ankle Mobilizations x 10/each

OH Wall Squat x 6

Inchworms x 5

Bowler Squats x 10/each side

Spiderman Lunge + Rotation x 3/each

Squat to Stand x 10

X-band Walks x 8/each

Jumping Jacks x 20

Seal Claps x 20

Highland Flings x 20

Foam Rolling: upper back traps, lats, chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps, forearms

Moving push ups x 5/each side

Scap Push Ups x 12

Reach, Roll & Lift x 5/each

TRX External Rotations x 15

Band Pull Aparts x 15

Barbell Muscle Snatch x 1o

DB Front, Lateral Raises, Press x 10/each

Pec Stretch x 20 secs./each

TRX Lat Stretch x 15-20 secs./each angle

Start implementing a dynamic warm-up that will address the issues you may be facing into your training program. If you don’t have any issues, then add dynamic warm-ups so you will continue to be without issues. It’s 10-15 minutes that you can’t afford to skip. Not only will it improve posture, get you more mobile, flexible and help you move better, but it will also fix weaknesses and indirectly improve your strength and performance.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Follow the Proven Plan

As most of you know, I was in Long Beach, CA a few weeks ago attending the Perform Better 3-Day Functional Training Summit. It was an awesome weekend being surrounded by over 650 like-minded fitness trainers and coaches. The energy was awesome and the surroundings were amazing. Then again, being in Long Beach right on the water is never a bad gig!

During my weekend adventure, many interesting and educational discussions took place. One topic of discussion that came about with my fellow trainers & colleagues was our personal frustration about the lack of 'follow through' of instructions with some of our clinetele. Let me give you an example of something that I shared.

I remember putting together a bookshelf that I figured I could piece together without looking at the instruction booklet. As I went on putting this thing together, I noticed a few foreign pieces that were left over - it seems this always happens when you have to construct something out of a box. Anyway, I finished it and just as fast as I could put anything on the shelves, the whole thing tumbled over!

My lesson learned - 'read the instruction booklet beforehand and stick with it!'
One morning one of my clients walked into my office and said, "I know you said that I should have the veggie and eggbeater omelet but I decided to stop by Starbucks and ordered a muffin and a grande coffee for breakfast." Right then I almost hesitated to ask what kind of 'coffee' she ordered. "A peppermint white mocha with skinny milk". As you can see, her breakfast choice was obviously not the same as to one I told her to eat.

Just this morning, I was helping someone else with their 'metabolic resistance training' plan and they had the audacity to say, "This is too hard for me! I want something EASIER!" Are your freakin' kidding me?!! And you wonder why they lack results and yet they're still the ones complaining about their weight gain, lack of fat loss, etc.!

And the personal trainer subtitles read: “I’d rather eat garbage than look or feel better. I’m making a conscious decision to go ahead and get fatter because I love food more than I love myself. I'd also rather do things that are easy because the even though the harder things are better for me, I just can't do them!”

Sorry folks. I don't know about you but I just don't buy it. Just like my old college football coach would say, "Excuses are like A-holes......everybody has one!"

If you're in a quest to look & feel better, to perform at your optimal level, and want to see results, you must stick with a proven plan and FOLLOW IT!! If not, don't be surprised if your bookshelf turns out to be a mess!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

2010 Perform Better Functional Training Summit - Long Beach, CA

Hey everyone! I hope this post finds you all doing well and still doing your thing to lead a healthy & active lifestyle. As you may have noticed, I haven't published any blog posts since last Tuesday. The reason why is that I've been busy with work, building my new fitness performance site, getting things in order for my side business as well as traveling back down to my home state of California.

This past weekend was rejuvenating, exhilarating & very energetic as I attended the 2010 Perform Better Functional Training Summit in Long Beach, CA. This is a weekend where fitness professionals and coaches have the opportunity to attend lectures and hands-on workshops presented by top elite fitness industry leaders. It's also an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and a chance to meet and network with new ones. I have to say that this year was by far the best Summit that I have attended since '06. Every year, the conference gets bigger (attendance wise) and better. As trainers & coaches, we train & work hard which often times results in the opportunity to 'play hard' thus creating balance in our lives!

We had some insane workouts take place - we literally had our asses handed to us on a platter by Alwyn Cosgrove, Robert Dos Remedios, Martin Rooney and my man, good friend and fellow SDSU Aztec brother Todd Durkin.

The Perform Better crew was awesome too! They provided exceptional service taking care of equipment orders and meeting the needs of each trainer & coach. A special thanks and 'hello' goes out to Jacob Guajardo & Jennie Rohde (from RI) - both of you ROCK! Looking forward to seeing you both next year, sooner if possible.

I also want to say thanks to my buddies & elite trainers whom I had a chance to reconnect with - Mike Rouillard (from my old stompin' grounds of San Diego), Terrence Wilson (from NY), and Sascha Metzger (from Germany). You guys are the best! I look forward to reuniting the 'Fearsome Foursome' again soon! Thanks to my good friend and other SDSU Aztec brother Steve Cotter, whom I had the chance to touch base with after not seeing each other in over 8 years. Thanks to my longtime pals whom I use to work with in San Diego at Frog's Athletic Club (when Frog's was awesome) - Tony Ferrarelli, Michelle Martin and Paul David. I'm very blessed and fortunate to have maintained our friendship all these years. Also, a big thanks to my new friends and elite trainers whom I had the chance to meet this year - my bro Mike Torres (from NY) , Gina Rozo & Kennedy Kombo (from Sac), Troy (from San Diego), Julie Twaddle (from the UK), Steph & Christine (from AZ), Susan Sange (from Napa), Carina Weston & Vickie Lane (both from Pasadena), Sam Caucci (from Parisi Speed School - New Jersey), Troy Fontana (from NV), Karim Khaliki (from San Diego), and my local bros Tim Funkhouser and Luka Hocevar (both from the greater Seattle area - Pac NW) - I look forward to connecting with both of you soon! I also want to thank everyone else whom I may have forgotten.

God bless and I look forward to seeing you all again soon!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Heavy Resistance Training for Women

I know I've posted something about this topic before. However, it never fails! Every time a female comes to me for assistance in their quest for fat loss and to lean down, I mention the words 'strength training', 'increased muscle mass development', and 'heavy resistance' and they give me that deer in the headlights look and FREAK OUT! They look at me like I'm crazy and ask, "Are you serious? I have to lift heavier weights in order to get leaner & stronger?" I'm dead serious folks. If I wasn't, would I be taking the time to type up such a lengthy blog post?!

The problem that I have when it comes to females & weight training is that some, not all females (so don't get all Tanya Harding on me) are afraid of getting out of their comfort zone. They formulate an image in their minds that I'm trying to 'bulk them up' like a bodybuilder, which is completely false. What I do know is that they've become too comfortable and complacent with their resistance training program, which are 2 very dangerous places to be in, yet they're the ones who are constantly complaining about not seeing results! They whine about their arms being too flabby, their thighs aren't as toned as they'd like them to be, their waistline is getting wider....blah, blah, blah. The reason I say comfort & complacency are dangerous places to be in is because these are the areas that yield very little to no results.

If results are what you're after, you MUST lift heavier loads to improve and create lean muscle growth. In turn, increased muscle development will not only give shape & tone to your body, but it will also increase your resting metabolic rate by burning an additional 35-50 calories more per hour while at rest. That's right, adding muscle increases metabolism. It also improves physical performance, helps burn stored fat, decreases the risk of potential injury, improves bone density (decreases the risk of osteoporosis), reduces the risk of heart disease, aids in rehabilitation, improves your overall appearance, boosts strength & power, and helps us to age gracefully.

Let me set the record straight by discussing some key points as to why women CANNOT bulk up when lifting heavy weights:
  • Women do not have nearly as much testosterone as men. In fact, according to Bill Kreamer in Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, women have about 15 to 20 times less testosterone than men. Testosterone is the reason men are men and women are women. After men hit puberty, they grow facial hair, their voice deepens, and they develop muscle mass. Because men have more testosterone, they're much more equipped to gain muscle. Because women don't have very much testosterone in their bodies, they'll never be able to get as big as men.

  • The perception that women will bulk up when they begin a strength training program comes from the chemically-altered women on the covers of bodybuilding magazines. These “grocery stand models” are most likely pumped full of some extra juice. This is why they look like men. If you take the missing link that separates men from women and add it back in, what do you have? That's right....a man!

  • For women, toning is what happens when the muscle is developed through training. This is essentially bodybuilding without testosterone. Since the testosterone is not present in sufficient amounts, the muscle will develop, but it won’t gain a large amount of mass. The “toned” appearance comes from removing the fat that is covering a well-developed muscle.

  • Muscle bulk comes from a high volume of work. The repetition range that most women would prefer to do (8–20 reps) promotes hypertrophy (muscle growth). For example, a bodybuilding program will have three exercises per body part. For the chest, they may do flat bench for three sets of 12, incline for three sets of 12, and decline bench for three sets of 12. This adds up to 108 total repetitions. A program geared towards strength will have one exercise for the chest — flat bench for six sets of three reps with progressively heavier weight. This equals 18 total repetitions. High volume (108 reps) causes considerable muscle damage, which in turn, results in hypertrophy. The considerably lower volume (18 reps) will build more strength and cause minimal bulking.

  • Heavy weights will promote strength not size. This has been proven time and time again. When lifting weights over 85%, the primary stress imposed upon the body is placed on the nervous system, not on the muscles. Therefore, strength will improve by a neurological effect while not increasing the size of the muscles. According to Zatsiorsky and Kreamer in Science and Practice of Strength Training, 'women need to train with heavy weights not only to strengthen the muscles but also to cause positive adaptations in the bones and connective tissues.'

  • Bulking up is not an overnight process. Many women think they'll start lifting weights, wake up one morning, and say “Holy crap! I’m huge!” It doesn’t happen this way. The men that you see who have more muscle than the average person have worked hard for a long time (years) to get that way. If you bulk up overnight, contact me as soon as possible because I want to do what you’re doing.

  • What some personal trainers are prescribing is not working. Many female athletes come into a new program and say they want to do bodyweight step-ups, bodyweight lunges, and leg extensions because it’s what their personal trainer back home had them do. However, many of these girls need to look in a mirror and have a reality check because their trainer’s so-called 'magical toning exercises' aren't working and haven't helped them see the desired results they want. Trainers will hand out easy workouts and tell people they work because they know that if they make the program too hard the client will complain. And, if the client is complaining, there’s a good chance the trainer might lose that client (a client to a trainer equals money).

  • Bulking up is calorie dependant. It all comes down to calories in vs. calories out. This means if you eat more than you're burning, you'll gain weight. If you eat less than you're burning, you will lose weight. Unfortunately, most female athletes perceive any weight gain as “bulking up” and don't give attention to the fact that they are simply gaining fat. A trainer friend of mine once said, "Squats don’t bulk you up. It’s the ten beers a night that bulk you up.” This cannot be emphasized enough. If you’re a female athlete and training with heavy weights (or not), you need to watch what you eat.

  • Most of the so-called 'experts' are only experts on pretending to sound like they know what they're talking about. The people who “educate” female athletes on training and nutrition have no idea what they’re talking about. Let’s face it — how many people do you know who claim to “know a thing or two about lifting and nutrition?” Now, how many people do you know who actually know what they’re talking about, practice what they preach, live the fitness lifestyle, enforce the principles of proper nutrition and 'clean eating'? Invariably, these so-called experts are also the people who blame their gut on poor genetics. They're also the reason you see so many women doing sets of 10 with a weight they could do 20 or 30 times. These females are being told by the experts that this is what it takes to “tone” the muscles. Instead, they're only wasting their time doing an exercise with a weight that is making no contribution to the fitness levels or the development of the muscle.

In case you haven’t figured it out by this point in this blog post, what's currently being done in fitness clubs to help female athletes tone their bodies isn't working. It’s not helping these women get toned, and it's definitely not helping improve athletic performance. Contrary to the ineffective light weights currently being used, heavy weights offer many benefits for women including improved body composition, stronger muscles, decreased injury rate, and stronger bones as mentioned earlier. Try lifting heavy resistance loads, controlling your diet and watch this logical, science-based solution make the difference you’ve been looking for.

Check out these 2 books which I highly recommend that reflect the topic of women & weight training: "The Female Body Breakthrough" by Rachel Cosgrove, CSCS and "The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess" by Lou Schuler, Cassandra Forsythe, MS, and Alywn Cosgrove, CSCS.


*Sources: The Essentials of Strength & Conditioning, The Science & Practice of Strength Training, elitefts.com