Category Archives: Fitness

Common Mistakes I See at the Gym

liftingtooheavy

It’s inevitable, I go to the gym to get my own workout in, and I can’t help but notice what people are doing wrong.  In order to obtain great results you need a combination of resistance training, cardiovascular work, and a good clean diet.  Simple right?  Well, you need to be doing those workouts correctly too.  Here a few mistakes we see over and over again.

Lifting too Heavy

Heavier doesn’t necessarily mean better.  If you cannot maintain proper form, have to ‘jerk’ the weight in order to lift it, or cannot perform an exercise through a full range of motion, then the weight is too heavy for you.   Lower the weight, and perform the exercise at a moderate pace using a full range of motion.  Not only is this safer, but you will see much bigger gains.

Talking on the Phone

Seriously?  If you are talking on the phone while working out, I can guarantee you are not working hard enough!  Focus on the muscle you are working and make every rep count.  This is what builds a strong, lean body, and a clear focused mind.

Leaning on the Cardio Equipment

Proper form holds true for cardio equipment too.  Don’t lean over, hanging on to the StairMaster or elliptical machine.  Stand up straight and let your legs carry your weight.  By leaning on the equipment you are promoting poor body mechanics.  If you find you cannot stand up straight then you have the equipment set at too high a level for you.  Slow it down or lower the incline.   You should be able to maintain proper form throughout the duration of your cardio session.

A trainer can answer any questions you have about proper form and can prescribe a cardio prescription at the right level for you.  Building a solid foundation in proper lifting techniques and learning to stay focused during your workouts will keep you injury free and reaching your goals sooner than you thought!

Image courtesy of Jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhoto.net

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The Incredible Hip

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Our body’s frame is made up of hundreds of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  As you know, our muscles contract and lengthen as they move our bones, all of which would not be possible without joints!  There are a few different types of joints, and they each perform a different action.  The simplest is a hinge joint, which only moves in one direction. Your knees, fingers, toes, and elbows are hinge joints.   The saddle joint, as in the thumb, ankle, and wrist, are examples of gliding joints.   The spinal column is made up of synovial joints.  The most versatile joint is the ball and socket, found in the shoulder and hip.

The hip is the most flexible of all the joints (except for maybe the shoulder) and can perform in multiple planes of motion.   Unlike your knees, ankles, fingers, or elbows, the hip joint can flex, extend, abduct, adduct, as well as internally and externally rotate.   The hip also supports our body weight and the force of our largest and most powerful muscles of the hips and thighs.  If you start to lose the strength and/or flexibility of this joint, you will soon begin to experience problems not just in your hip but also your low back and knees.  The hip is meant to be a mobile joint while the knee and lower back are meant to be stable.

The most common cause for decreased strength and range of motion through the hip is too  much sitting.   We were not meant to spend our days sitting.  A sedentary lifestyle will lead to muscle atrophy, shortening of your ligaments and tendons, and a decline in balance.  In response to the immobility of the hip joint, the low back and knees will begin to be stressed.  This typically causes people to move even more infrequently, which leads to low back and knee problems.  Low back and knee pain are the two most common complaints we hear with new clients.  Your trainer can help you improve your strength, balance, and proper function of this very important joint.   In the mean time, here are some tips to help keep your body functioning properly:

  1. Move!  If you have a desk job, get up each hour to stretch your legs.
  2. Take the stairs.  The Gluteus Maximus is the strongest, largest muscle in your body.   You need to keep this muscle strong in order to support your lumbar spine and stabilize your knees.
  3. Stretch the muscles of the hip in all directions.   Don’t just stretch the hamstrings and glutes.   The muscles responsible for adduction and abduction as well as internal & external rotation need to be stretched too.
  4. Incorporate functional exercises into your workout.   Functional exercises work the smaller stabilizing and balancing muscles.
  5. The following exercises will strengthen the muscles of the hip:  Squats, dead lifts, kettlebell swings, lunges, side steps, box jumps, and bridges.
Keep your abdominals pull in and knees positioned over toes as you lower body.  You will naturally lean forward, but keep your chest lifted.

Keep your abdominals pull in and knees positioned over toes as you lower body. You will naturally lean forward, but keep your chest lifted.

No time for a workout?

You’ve made a commitment to workout 4 times per week, but you’re running late and can’t possibly get the gym now! Well you could do it when you get out of work tonight… although you know you’ll be pretty tired by then and have to cook dinner, take care of the kids… etc. Or maybe you’re on vacation and don’t have access to a gym. Whatever the reason, there really is no excuse for skipping your workout.

Try this at home circuit that requires no weights or machines. Just your body weight. Complete the whole circuit 4 or 5 times in a row without rest. You’ll get a great cardio workout and some muscle endurance benefits as well.

Perform 1 minute of each the following:

  1. Jump rope (or simulated jump rope)
  2. Walking Lunges (alternate lunges if space is limited)
  3. Push Ups (for more of a challange to spiderman pushups)
  4. Jump Squats Mountain climber
  5. Jog in place with high knees

Rest 30 – 45 seconds between circuits and be sure to cool down with a little streching. This routine is not a replacement for your regular resistance and cardio workouts, but in a pinch will help to keep you on track.