Many of us have been told our whole lives to "stand up straight", "don't slump", "have good posture", etc. We all have been told that, "good" posture is important, but is it? and what is it important for? Certain postures such as slumping, or an exaggerated sway in the lower back have been associated with various injuries. Having a perfectly straight spine has also been associated with different injuries. With that being said the whole world is associated with injury no matter what posture you take on. Many healthcare providers have steered away from the biomechanical prospective (there is a perfect way our structure is designed for perfect function and deviations from this will cause dysfunction and injury) to a psychological perspective (our nervous system, emotions, and personality may lead us to dysfunctional movement and injury - especially chronic injury). Much like anxiety is a psychological phenonemon that causes us to feel fear when their is no dangerous stimulus, chronic pain may be an activation of pain without damage. Our body continues to protect us from injuries in the past when the injury no longer exists.
The mind-body relationship is extremely real, and what we do with our bodies will effect our cognition, and our cognition will effect our bodies. So when people say "its all in your head", you can look back at them and say "damn right it is". Psychological reactions and actions are just as real as physical experiences. Some may argue that we are what we think. I am one of those people. I think anyone trying to disempower emotions, personality, and creativity as a source of what is real life, are living in a far more inventive place, than those who embrace their imagination and brain power.
The rule of embodied cognition states that our posture reflects the our emotions, and that the postures we take can also effect how we think and feel. Research has demonstrated the positive effect of expansive postures on confidence. In fact expansive postures have been shown to increase testosterone (male sex hormone) and decrease cortisol (stress hormone). There is also evidence that the taller a person feels, the more confident they will feel. Other research has examined the relationship between the stress response and slouching postures showing that slouching amplified stress.
With a society obsessed with looking down at their cell phones these results could inspire individuals to look up to the world around them and put the phone down before depression sets in, not to mention neck injury.
Actors and images depicting depressed and anxious people often show a person slouched into themselves, while images demonstrating happiness have people in upright unguarded postures. Therefore not only do we embody our emotions, but we associate emotions with different postures - we understand people based on how they hold themselves, just as much as we demonstrate our own emotions with our bodies.
For those suffering from depression, anxiety, and lack of confidence the mind body relationship may be most beneficial. This is because we can change our mood, thoughts, and hormones through physical movement, and changes in posture. Yoga and strength training are two forms of exercise that are particularly influential on posture. Research has examined the psychological benefits of both strength training and yoga.
In 2016, a review of the research on yoga was published titled "Yoga for Depression and Anxiety: A Review of Published Research and Implications for Healthcare Providers". The article reviewed several randomized clinical trials in which Yoga was shown to decrease symptoms of anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and chronic pain. It is hypothesized that the deep breathing, focus on mindfulness, in addition to holding particular postures in yoga decreases cortisol (stress hormones), and increases the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system (slowing down our heart rates and increasing relaxation).
Resistance training (i.e lifting weights) has been studied as a method of improving mental health as well. Resistance training does not include the same mindfulness approach as yoga, but nevertheless has been shown to have several psychological benefits. In a 2010 review it was stated that resistance training has a significantly positive effect on anxiety levels. Moderate intensity resistance training was more beneficial than high intensity strength training for anxiety. One of the most remarkable benefits of strength training is improvements in executive cognitive function. The same 2010 review stated that older adults improved their memory following a resistance training program. Additionally, resistance training was shown to decrease fatigue, improve sleep, and self confidence. Less was noted on the effect of strength training on depression.
The research clearly shows that yoga and strength training have psychological benefits, but less is known on how specific postural training influences mood. For example, if someone is very slumped over and a trainer guides them through 4 weeks of back training, and lots of chest opening exercises, will the postural changes occurring from this type of program have an influence on confidence, anxiety, depression etc. In a training program like this you would essentially be training a more expansive and upright posture....so if research shows that acting out these postures has psychological benefits, one would think that training these postures would have benefits as well.
I would find a study fascinating that examined the effects of a resistance training program primarily training chest and flexion postures (slumping), versus a training program focused primarily on back and extension postures (standing upright and expansive) on psychological related outcomes.
In conclusion, our minds and our bodies are very much connected. We can influence our overall well being not only by how we think but how we move. Most exercise programs - cardiovascular, strengthening, yoga, have positive psychological benefits. Pick one you enjoy, and keep smiling! Leave your comments below.
Hormone balance is an important aspect of physiological and mental health. Hormones are regulatory substances transported in the blood which cause a specific action when delivered to cells and tissues. Hormones play a role in everything from making us happy, to helping us grow from a child to an adult. In fact, some may argue that our entire personality and construct is really just a compilation of different hormones signaling at different times. If a person is imbalanced they may be angry, sick, weak, etc. Many people are under the impression that supplements and drug use is the only way to change our hormone levels. These individuals are incorrect. There are many natural ways to change our hormone balance, and one of the most important ways is through living a healthy lifestyle. Today I am going to touch on four hormones (estrogen, testosterone, ghrelin and leptin) which are important for weight loss, and overall health and fitness.
Estrogen is the female sex hormone. Estrogen is produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands, and fat cells. Imbalances in estrogen can increase an individuals ability to gain belly fat. Commonly, this occurs in people who do not have enough estrogen. The body alerts the brain of low estrogen levels, and the brain sends a signal to the body to hold on to the estrogen producing fat cells. The brain also sends signals the body to take any extra form of energy and store it as fat cells in order to produce more estrogen. This process can also work in an alternative fashion. If a person has lost too much fat (under eating, excessive exercise etc.) the body may not be producing enough estrogen causing a woman's menstrual cycle to stop, or become out of balance. This phenomenon is seen quite often in female athletes and is referred to as amenorrhea. In conclusion, estrogen is a very important hormone to keep in balance when trying to lose weight. The American Chemical Society completed several research studies which suggested that estrogen receptors in the brain are associated with food intake, energy expenditure, and body fat distribution.
Best Exercises for Balancing Estrogen: Low to moderate intensity cardiovascular training, circuit training, and resistance training. The concentration should be on creating a healthy ratio of fat to muscle.
Best Foods/Diet: Healthy fats (avocado, nuts and seeds), protein balance 15-25% of calories (lean meats, antioxidant rich vegetables ( dark greens, colorful, tri-colored carrots, broccoli, spinach, red or yellow bell pepper, ), anti-inflammatory spices and herbs ( tumeric, cayenne, ginger, garlic)
Testosterone is the male sex hormone. Testosterone plays a key role in the development of lean mass, fat distribution, strength, bone mass, and the expression of male sex characteristics. Testosterone is an important hormone for protein synthesis which allows us to build larger and stronger muscles. Despite being a male sex hormone, women have testosterone as well. Because women have less testosterone, it makes it more difficult for women to build large muscles. Resistance training is extremely important for building strength and losing weight. Women who fear "getting big", from resistance training should realize how difficult it will be to do so without testosterone supplementation, or having naturally higher levels than most women.
Best Exercise for Increasing Testosterone: High intensity, high volume strength training.
Diet Changes for Increasing Testosterone: Increase Vitamin D consumption (Tuna, dairy, eggs), Increase Zinc Consumption (Oysters, shellfish, beef, beans)
Side note: Protein is the macro nutrient associated with muscle recovery. In order to build muscle it is necessary to eat the proper percent of your daily food intake from protein (15-25%). Too much protein consumption can lead to weight gain because the protein will not be used. The more resistance training a person engages in the more protein they will need.
Ghrelin, often referred to as the hunger hormone is produced in the stomach and signals the brain to seek food when we are hungry. If our body is out of balance, we may have too much Ghrelin circulating through our system, causing us to eat when our body doesn't actually need food. Increased Ghrelin has been shown to decrease the amount of fat we use for energy, causing greater levels of fat in the body. Recent research has investigated the effects of Ghrelin levels on diabetes and glucose metabolism. It is hypothesized that Ghrelin levels play a large role in insulin resistance, homeostasis, and high blood pressure. Different types of exercises, and diets effect ghrelin levels. Individuals who want to lose weight would benefit from a diet, and exercise regimen that reduces Ghrelin and consequently reduces hunger levels. If you are trying to bulk up as part of your regimen you may want to include a routine that increases ghrelin levels.
Best Exercises for Decreasing Ghrelin Reactions: HIIT Training
Best Foods for Decreasing Ghrelin Reactions: Nutrient dense (dark vegetables, berries), lean protein (chicken breast), healthy fats (avocado, nuts, seeds), water
Leptin is a hormone derived in fat cells, which signals the body of satiety. Leptin is the antagonist of Ghrelin because it tells us to stop eating when we are full. Research has demonstrated that in many obese individuals the body may become resistant to Leptin, causing overeating. In summary, the more fat a person has on their body, the more leptin they have, but the more the body decreases its response to leptin, and the more you eat. It is a vicious cycle. Additionally, fructose intake (sugar) may cause the body to become more leptin resistant as well.
Exercise to balance leptin levels: HIIT Training, proper recover and sleep
Diet to balance leptin levels: Eating foods that make you feel full - nutrient dense, healthy fat, lean protein. Stay away from empty carbohydrates which provide sugar without any macro or micro nutrients.
In summary, hormonal reactions play a vital role in weight loss, and becoming physically fit. If you struggle to lose weight, or gain muscle, it may be due to an imbalance in hormones. Luckily, there are natural ways to get the body back into balance such as diet and exercise. Make sure that the diet and exercise you are doing appropriately matches your health goals. Overall the research suggests that High Intensity Interval Training is the best method of exercise for decreasing body weight (specifically fat) and this may be because of the effectiveness of HIIT in balancing hormone levels. HIIT training involves alternating periods of high intensity cardiovascular activity with intervals of recovery. Eating foods which are low calorie, and nutrient dense will help with satiety possibly by changing levels of ghrelin and leptin.
Weight loss is an extremely difficult feat because many of the factors which cause us to gain and lose weight seem beyond our control. I think this is because people struggle to remain consistent and consistency seems out of our control when life is constantly in flux. The most important part of weight loss is staying consistent despite what life throws at you. Always remember why you have set your goals for weight loss, seek motivation and help when you feel incapable, minimize cheat days, follow your diet and exercise regimen to the end, and you will be a success.
Hello friends! I hope everyone has had a fantastic week. Here are some songs to rock you through the weekend. I've been on an old school hip hop/southern rock vibe. Enjoy this eclectic list.
1.) Capone-N-Noreaga - Invincible
2.)EPMD - Symphony 2000
3.)Rayland Baxter - Bad Things
4.)Kaleo - Broken Bones
5.) JRY, Rooty - Pray (fifty shades darker soundtrack)
Having a kickass healthy weekend!!!
Hello Friends! I usually post my top 5 songs on Friday but I was having too much fun yesterday to look at my computer. So...here are 5 songs to rock you through the weekend! Enjoy!
1.) Culture Beat - Mr Vain this song has literally been stuck in my head all week but its f*cking amazing
2.) Pinback - Boo I've been listening to this song for all my mobility work. It is also a great song to put on before bed if you want to relax.
3.) Ricks Ross - I Think She Like Me
4.)Chris Brown feat Usher and Gucci Mane - Party
5.)Sheek Louch - Good Love throwwwwbackkkk
Enjoy! Feel free to leave comments about songs you dig.
In my opinion, the lessons we learn from interacting with other people surpass the value of anything we learn in text books or courses. Unfortunately, these lessons are often under valued because people view social interactions as leisure time, and not as an activity that leads to greater personal development. However, we wouldn't be able to read books, or go to universities without the professors, and other students who dedicate themselves to education. Students often lack gratitude for their professors, while putting heavy importance on receiving their degrees. I believe this is backwards. Obviously, reading books and taking courses can exponentially increase knowledge because it gives us the ability to learn from people we may not have the chance to be in contact with. However, this type of learning should not replace what we gain from the people close to us.
I know that "would you rather" questions are somewhat unrealistic because in actuality one usually doesn't have to choose between two extremes but, if you asked me, "If you had to live your entire life without reading a book, or without the ability to laugh with another person, which one would you live without?", I would clearly give up books. Luckily, I have the ability to laugh with other people, and read books. Here is a brief explanation of why I would choose my answer:
Things I learn from laughing: Life is not that serious, I'm capable of being happy, my friend just farted, I can make falling, running out of gas, and tragedy all enjoyable if humor is involved.
Things I learn from reading: Life is not that serious, 55 researched ways to be happy, the type of gas that comes out when you fart, how to fill up my tank of gas, the most common places to injure oneself when falling. ( I could learn all these things directly from other people as well).
There are a lot of "how to" answers we can get from reading, and I don't think any of these lessons are worth it except if applied with real people in real situations.
This brings me to the real point of this blog which is that, it is as important to be able to communicate and interact with people effectively, as it is to provide a high quality service in whatever you do. Here are three things I've learned about conversation, simply by talking and having personal relationships. I think these lessons can be applied to personal training, because you have to deal with a lot of different types of people one on one.
1.) Silence does not inherently mean something negative, and if it does leave the person alone about it.
"You are awfully quiet today, is there something wrong?". This might be my least favorite question in the universe. First of all, it makes the assumption that there is something wrong with someone else when maybe they are just lost in a fantasy of how awesome their life is. Then when someone asks them whats wrong, they begin to ask themselves "what is wrong with me?, why am I quiet?". Second of all, even the loudest people in the universe sometimes don't want to talk. Thirdly, If there is something wrong a person cared to explain, they wouldn't be sitting their in silence. People often want confirmation that the reason other people around them aren't in a good mood, isn't their fault. People generally take someone not wanting to speak to them as a bad sign, and feel like they need to ask the person if they are okay just to validate that the person isn't being quiet because they are made at them. However, people will like you more if you let them act and feel how they desire to act and feel. Sometimes people are just enjoying being less talkative and it has nothing to do with something personal. I've heard many people say, that the people they are closest with are ones they can sit in complete silence with and still feel comfortable.
I like to just ask people" How are you today?", if the person says they are doing great, then I leave it alone.
Client Experience: I train a few clients who are under the age of 14. It is guaranteed that if they come in and are barely speaking it probably has to do with how mad they are that they had to go to school that day, or they are just tired. It has nothing to do with me. If I ask them why they are quiet, they will be quiet for the rest of the session and possibly the week. If I just wait for something funny to happen during the session, they will likely break the silence and we will end up having a sword fight with foam rollers for 15 minutes. Point being, let people live in whatever mood they want to. Asking people whats wrong with them usually makes more wrong with them, rather than creating happiness.
2.) Inform people of your opinion, without trying to convince anyone that your opinion is factual.
I love engaging in conversation with individuals who have a different set of beliefs and opinions than me. It gives me the ability to learn, and gain new perspectives. However, nothing is more frustrating than a person who will not exit a conversation until the person on the other end agrees with their point of view. It is also difficult to communicate with people who take it personally when you do not feel the same way as them. Newsflash, there is not a single person in the world who is exactly like you, or believes 100% of the same things as you believe. Taking differences personally, or not accepting that others disagree with you is an excellent way to turn a fascinating conversation into an argument. I've learned that when dealing with people like this it is best to accept their point of view before the conversation even starts. The person never gets to know my true opinion, but who cares as long as I can ward off an unpleasant conversation. It is wiser to accept others than try to force others to accept you.
I think people who can't stand to hear opposition, don't even believe their own hype and question themselves in any scenario where anyone else questions them. By convincing others of their point of view, they can validate their own point of view. I think this because when a person believes something wholeheartedly, it rarely matters if anyone else feels the same way.
I've learned that people create their vision of the world on their own time, and not when you want them to. This is a lesson that comes up time and again as a personal trainer. People are not going to eat what I tell them to eat, or workout how I tell them to workout accept if they want to. I also will get nowhere telling anyone to eat apples who thinks apples are trash. I like to inform clients of healthy behaviors and provide suggestions. It is most important to me to help clients find what makes them personally feel healthy. I am not a god of healthy behavior. I am just a person who enjoys living and wants to do what I can to help others enjoy it to. I do this with exercise and nutrition, but I understand that there are many other ways to be happy.
When I first started personal training I really thought there was only one way to lose weight, that healthy food meant it was healthy for everyone, and that if you didn't stick to the same regimen I followed you wouldn't get the same results that I got. With time I've realized that the best way to be healthy, is to partake in a regimen that you can do consistently. AND THIS IS DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE. Some individuals can make it to the gym 6 days a week, and some can only make it 1 time. For both people they are still doing something positive for their health. Possibly the person who only works out 1 time a week, does beach clean ups and spends time with their family during the other 5 days of the week. Perhaps the person who works out 6 days a week doesn't have a family and they gauge their well being solely on workout performance. Both of these people are doing the right thing.
Additionally, there are so many forms of exercise that there is no need to convince anyone that one form is better than another. If somebody tells me they walk most places I'm ecstatic for them. I am an enthusiast of all things movement. Some people benefit more from yoga, some from weight training, some from long distance running. Most people workout in order to receive some sort of benefit whether that is psychological, or physiological. Just because one form of activity has failed to benefit you is no reason to convince someone else to not engage in what they enjoy. As a personal trainer, it is a necessity to positively approach all forms of exercise whether it is a form you practice or do not. The most rational, and intellectual of human beings can see the benefit in all things, and do not narrow their minds to one subset of life in a world of infinite variety.
It is a great practice to make clients feel comfortable telling you anything, whether it is unhealthy or healthy.
A community where all opinions and views are accepted is the type in which I want to be. This community includes with whom and where I choose to workout.
3.) Changing your personality to make the other people around you feel comfortable is not being fake, it is being respectful.
You do not need to push your personality on other people in the light of "being real", when your real self is offensive. I am capable of having a very morbid sense of humor. However, I know what types of people will find my humor funny versus ones who will find it off putting. I see no benefit in carrying on, saying whatever I please just because "its me" to do so and I don't care what anyone thinks (although I used to see a benefit in this). It is in no way "me", to make other people feel bad. There are plenty of people in the world who will let you act however you please, and will like you more for doing so. There are also many people who will not. You will have to engage with both types of people in life. I think the most intelligent people can mold their personalities to reflect the energy and interests of the people around them and this has nothing to do with being fake.
For a long time I felt there was no way that I could make it in a society where you had to be professional, go to school, go to work, wake up at the same time every day, go to bed early etc. (turns out of all of these things have been very positive for my life). I have always been extremely rebellious and radical in my views and I thought there was no way in hell that socialization would accept me. I would have to make my own island where people just ate coconuts and danced for eternity in order to fit in. I still struggle with this concept, because I can feel a bit disconnected due to the fact I have many views of how life should be that do not run parallel to anything that is reality... seriously I'm that far out there. These struggles are of my own making, and the out casting of myself. I would have thoughts about how there was no way I would make it in the health and fitness industry because everyone who is healthy, is not wild enough for me, and doesn't have the same background as I do. Well it turns out you don't need to be wild or go through the same hell and back as I went through to be awesome. Almost all people eventually go through hell and back in one form or another. I still have my wild outlandish views, but I feel comfortable keeping them from people who may not care to talk about them.
Although the land of professionalism can harbor some uprightness, ironically, some of the craziest people I've met have been in the gym. Recently, an older man I engaged in conversation with at the gym told me that the only reason he moved from his condo to his own house was because he can now walk from his home to his car naked without being seen (profound).
Anyway, the point is that it's not fake to not always say exactly what your feeling when your feeling it for the sake of getting along with other people. I don't think the naked driver would have lost any of his spunk had he not shared with me the reason he moved from his condo to his house. Sometimes I will be out of this world hyperactive and the friend I'm around is tired so I will tone it down in respect for them. Sometimes people want to be silent when you want to talk and managing a bit of quiet isn't the worst thing. People will have different political views than you, and for the sake of letting them express themselves you don't express your own. I find that by not being so outward, one can become a better listener. By conforming to another person's view and energy, you can experience different ways of being and living. You can do this without losing your true self.
How this relates to personal training, is that a personal trainer must work with a very diverse group of people. If you can not entertain a wide variety of ideas, thoughts, and ways of communicating you will be very limited in your clientele and relationships.
I will conclude by saying this is a very opinionated and personal post. Please feel free to leave your comments below as I would like to hear your opinions as well! Many of the lessons I've learned have been deviated from just by writing this. The post is pretty real, loud, and outward. Maybe I'm still learning!
Points to Acknowledge:
- The success and knowledge that comes from human interaction is infinite
- Reading and education is amazing and the people who provide these wonderful services should be acknowledged
- Silence can mean a world of things, but it usually means a person doesn't want to talk
- Try your best to not take things personally
- Informing others of your opinions is great, trying to make others agree with your opinions is not so great
- There is nothing wrong with sacrificing some of what you think and feel to make others happy or comfortable - just don't go so far as to sacrifice yourself
- HAVE A KICK BUTT WEEK EVERYONE!!!
Hello Friends! I hope everyone had a fantastic week full of positive vibes, healthy activities and zero stress. Here are my top 5 songs from this week to get you right for the weekend! TGIF. Enjoy.
1.)Gucci Mane - I Heard (Feat. Rich Homie Quan)
2.)Heart - What About Love? I am not putting this up as a joke, this song is legit
3.)The Roots (Feat Zion I) - Come Together
4.)Murs - Walk Like a Man
5.) Awolnation - Sail (TDE Remix feat. Kendrick Lamar)
Many people, myself included would like to believe that they achieve success based on their own desires and actions alone. " If I want to to lose weight this year, then I am going to go on a diet." The opposite is also true. A majority of individuals believe that they will not be able to achieve their goals without a, b, and c happening. " If I want to lose weight this year, I need more time, I need a gym, I need a trainer, I need healthy friends." In reality it is a mix of both intrinsic motivation (desire to achieve a goal just because you want to and enjoy it) and extrinsic motivation (social support, achieving weight loss, money etc.) that help us achieve our desires. My best friend can tell me all day that I need to lose weight but I never will if I don't want to. I could really desire to lose weight but it would be challenging without anyone else caring if I achieve weight loss.
In the past few weeks I have been consumed with reading "The Psychology of Exercise: Integrating Theory and Practice."...yes I read text books for fun, and yes there are many things wrong with me. I have become especially enthralled with the chapter "social influences on exercise". As the title indicates,the chapter describes several research studies, which show the influence of social support on exercise adherence, motivation, stress, and other exercise related outcomes. The book refers to a study of 1800 australian adults where it was shown that the more significant others a person had to exercise with, the more likely they were to be exercising at recommended levels. Even more inspiring was a study looking at adherence to a cardiac rehabilitation program. In this study participants were allowed to have a spouse complete the program with them. After six months, the group of participants who worked out with a spouse, had a dropout rate of 10%. The group of patients who did not workout with a spouse had a dropout rate of 33%. This is a perfect example of how a support system can seriously impact our health. Several studies have also compared different TYPES of social support on exercise behavior. In a study conducted by Carron et al., the effect of important others, family members, class members, and class leader on exercise related behaviors, thoughts and feelings was compared. Carron et al., found that important others were the most influential factor on adherence, intentions and attitudes towards exercise, while exercise leader was the least influential. These studies show the importance of having people you are close with support your healthy behaviors and decisions to exercise.
A few nights ago in one of the group training classes at my gym (Pacific Beach Training) I overheard one participant say to another "every time I think about not showing up for the gym, I think of you and it motivates me to come to class. You are my inspiration because you are always here." The influence of social support is heartwarming when witnessed first hand. The fitness community in general inspires a culture of support, family and comradery, that I have yet to witness in other atmospheres. Possessing the ability to help others achieve optimal health, is difficult to do without being in a stable and healthy place yourself. The best role models lead by example.
A personal trainer can become the important other who motivates you to become a healthier person. 100% of my clients communicate with me inside and outside of the gym not only about workout questions, but about their personal experiences as well. I believe this type of connection is especially helpful when an individual lacks a social circle that inspires them to exercise. It is also important to select a personal training for who you feel comfortable and compatible with. One of my best friends in the world who is now a very successful trainer in Santa Barbara, was one of the most influential people in my decision to start working out. She continues to serve as a role model for me to this day.
Many gyms, including Pacific Beach Training offer significant discounts for individuals who want to split a personal training package with a friend, significant other, or family member. We give this discount because we know that clients are far more likely to adhere to the program, enjoy workouts, and workout harder when they have someone close by their side. Not to mention, it is sooo much fun to provide partner workouts and small group training as a coach. During ALL of my partner training sessions clients are laughing, and cheering each other on. Partner training is also great for individuals who are intimidated by a large group in which they do not know the other participants, but also unsure if they want to workout alone with a personal trainer. If you are someone who already loves working out, partner training is a great way to inspire friends to exercise who may not currently have a routine. It is always hard to go into something alone, and sometimes promoting friendships through exercise, is even better than promoting exercise itself.
A Personal Note: I have always been the type of person who believed I became the person I am entirely on my own accord. I became a personal trainer because I wanted to, I moved to San Diego because I wanted to, I'm writing this blog because I want to, I was born because I wanted to be...haha just kidding. Did you know there is actually a group of people who believe they chose their parents?...anyways that's a different discussion. In a sense, I felt that if I acknowledged the influences of other people over my behavior then my freedom and individuality would be lost. I never wanted to be the person who made decisions based on what other people were doing. I wanted to make my own path, and walk it however I pleased. Moral of the story is, I've made many decisions in my life not only because I wanted to, but because of the social support I received throughout my life.
To name a few, my wonderful professors at SUNY Cortland were 75% of the reason I didn't drop out, while 25% of the reason was because I enjoyed exercise science itself. With their support, I am now 150% in love with exercise science.
I always thought school was just something you had to get through but my best friend in college encouraged me to give my all to everything I participated in. Him and I both graduated with a 4.0.
I now take piano classes, and its not only because I love music, but also because my mom is an outstanding musician.
I began writing this blog because my best friend in San Diego writes and I love his stuff. I've always loved writing and his influence made me discover how I could put my interests into practice while still personal training.
In high school, I passed the GED exam in order to graduate, and while I didn't love high school, nobody around me cared whether I graduated, or had good grades either. Our social support system can influence in poor ways as much as in healthy ways. Not to say we are incapable of making adverse decisions on our own, because trust me I am. However, its easier to make good decisions when the other people around you are doing the same.
One of the best things you can do to make positive changes is surround yourself with individuals who inspire you to be a better person. I think everyone has the potential to be a positive influence and be positively influenced. Positive energy is contagious and if you surround your self with people who support you it will become difficult to be unhealthy or unhappy. You can start this process today by going to the gym with one of your friends who exercises, bringing a friend to the gym who doesn't exercise, or courageously coming to the gym on your own to meet some new healthy peeps!
Some thoughts to leave you with:
Hello friends! My 2016 workout song list was so popular that I have decided to create a post every friday with my top 5 songs of the week - these may be workout related or just plain old awesome. Here it goes:
1.) The Weeknd - Sidewalks
2.) Staik Selektah and Action Bronson- Not Enough Words
3.) Murs - Break Up (the OJ song)
4.) Big Sean - Bounce Back
5.) Rusko - Da Cali Anthem
Follow me on Spotify
By: Jenna Rubin CPT, CSCS
Reasons to squat from most important to least important (but they are all important):
Because it makes you happy, gain strength in the muscles of the core, spine, glutes, and legs in order to ultimately kick butt at everything else you do in life, improve bone density to prevent osteoporosis, maintain the ability to sit down and get up from the toilet (actually this might be number one), ability to get in and out of the front seat of your husband's lamborghini (if he doesn’t own a lamborghini I don’t see any point of getting in and out of the car), and last but absolutely least gaining a fantastic booty and radically ripped legs.
A common misconception in strength training is that the larger a muscle is, the more important it is in developing healthy movement patterns. On the contrary, in order for our large muscles to produce force effectively the assistance of several small stabilizing muscles is needed. Strong stabilizing muscles of the spine and pelvis, combined with proper technique, and optimal range of motion will lead to gains in strength, while preventing injury during exercise. I believe that strength training should be part of an overall wellness plan, which aids in injury prevention, health maintenance, weight loss as well as strength gains. Squats have far more functional value than just creating aesthetically pleasing legs. I would like to be squatting well into my 100s - yes I plan to live that long, but I know that I need to take care of my body as a whole in order to wreak the long term benefit of exercise. In addition to personal training I work in a physical therapy clinic as an exercise specialist. Sadly, chronic injuries amongst people who went too hard for too long performing the wrong exercises and not enough of the right ones were a good percentage of our patients. Ironically, we prescribed exercises to these patients which were helpful in alleviating the problems of poor exercise habits in the past. This is why performing the right exercises from the beginning is so important. Any person in the gym can throw you under a squat rack and tell you to max out. The point in seeking the assistance of a fitness professional is to reach your fitness goals in a safe atmosphere. A personal trainer has an eclectic knowledge base in exercise physiology, psychology, anatomy, and biomechanics. We know where you should be mobile, where you should be stable, and where you need to improve to be the strongest person you can be physically. We also know how to motivate you and make exercise more enjoyable!!
Today, I am going to discuss eight simple exercises anyone can add to their fitness routine in order to improve the functionality of their squat. One common mistake I see in many clients is knee valgus - the tendency of the knees to collapse inwards. Knee valgus puts a tremendous strain on the ligaments and attachments of the knee along with the joint itself. In fact knee valgus is the exact movement that will cause your AcL to tear. Even when individuals understand proper technique, sometimes their glutes are simply not strong enough to keep their knees from caving inwards. Strengthening the glute medius ( the muscle responsible for stabilizing the pelvis and abducting the leg) aids clients in gaining control over knee position. These two exercises are highly effective for strengthening the glute medius. There are several supine variations of glute medius exercises but I prefer standing exercises when improving the squat.
1. Physioball Abduction
In addition to knee valgus, many clients have trouble maintaining a neutral spine when performing the squat. Many individuals move into a lordotic position, and fail to engage the muscles of their abdominals. In fact many people are instructed that they should significantly arch their lower back when performing squats. The cause of lordosis (arched back) may simply be not understanding how to tilt the pelvis into a neutral position (pelvic tilt motor control) or could be caused by weakness in the abdominals - specifically the transverse abdominis (spine stabilizer). Trivia: Should you be squatting heavy weight, when your spine is having trouble stabilizing your own body weight?? - I know it’s a tough question you can answer it later. The next two exercises are aimed at strengthening the core, specifically the transverse abdominus as well as learning the proper position of the spine during the squat:
3.) Pelvic Tilt (Perform 3 Sets of 10)
4.) Dead Bugs (Perform 3 sets of 10)
Thirdly, tight ankles are a common issue which can hinder individuals from reaching proper depth in their squat. A common squat mistake indicating poor ankle mobility are the heels lifting off the floor before the thighs are parallel with the floor. Tightness at the ankle can lead to injuries of the knees and hips because these areas will try to make up for the movement a person is not achieving at the ankles. Two great exercises for improving ankle mobility are:
5.) Calf Foam Rolling - foam rolling is a great warm up exercise because it has been shown to increase range of motion without decreasing muscle force
6.) Half kneeling ankle dorsiflexion - knee touching the wall would indicate good mobility
This last set of exercises are aimed at decreasing tightness in the hips. Many individuals sit at desks all day, in front of the tv at home, and get little movement at the hip joint. I am currently writing this article while holding a split, and whenever I try to watch tv I just end up looking at new fitness exercises on my phone. I also move all day everyday because I am 100% aware that when I die I can sit FOREVER. Nevertheless, tight hips may cause someone to not reach optimal range of motion throughout the squat. Tight hips can lead to low back injury because the back will try to perform the movement that should be occurring at the hip. Tight hip flexors can lead to excessive anterior pelvic tilt, which puts the spine into lordosis. Two excellent exercises for improving hip mobility are:
7.) Piriformis ( the muscle your sciatic nerve runs through) foam rolling and static stretch (Hold 3X for 30 sec on each side)
8.)Half kneeling hip flexor stretch - make sure to not arch the low back when performing this exercise. Stretch should be felt in the back hip flexor. Hold 3x for 30 sec on each side.
There you have it, eight exercises to improve the functionality of your squat. If you would like to learn more about injury prevention through exercise I will be hosting several injury prevention seminars at Pacific Beach Training in San Diego, CA this year. At the end of the seminar you will learn about the anatomical structures of the body which are most susceptible to injury, master several exercises used to build up strength and mobility in these areas, as well as understand how to program these exercises into your complete fitness routine.
Bell, D. R., Oates, D. C., Clark, M. A., & Padua, D. A. (2013). Two-and 3-dimensional knee valgus are reduced after an exercise intervention in young adults with demonstrable valgus during squatting. Journal of athletic training, 48(4), 442.
Hayashi, S., Katsuhira, J., Matsudaira, K., & Maruyama, H. (2016). Effect of pelvic forward tilt on low back compressive and shear forces during a manual lifting task. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 28(3), 802–806. http://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.28.802
Healey, K. C., Hatfield, D. L., Blanpied, P., Dorfman, L. R., & Riebe, D. (2014). The effects of myofascial release with foam rolling on performance. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 28(1), 61-68.
Larson, G. (2014). Examining ways to improve ankle mobility during the overhead squat lift (Doctoral dissertation, University of Delaware).
Layne, J. E., & Nelson, M. E. (1999). The effects of progressive resistance training on bone density: a review. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 31(1), 25-30.
As many of you know I have a very diverse taste in music. Clients and friends are always asking me for more information about the music I choose for my group fitness classes. I have an estimate of 3 billion playlists on my spotify, and I probably spend every moment that I’m not working out blasting music in my car, or through my headphones. I find music to be a necessary motivator for increasing my energy, motivation and drive during workouts. In fact, I am not the only person who feels this way. In 2014 the University of Queenstown published a review of titled “Does Music Really Make a Difference?”, in which they stated “ Effective use of music was found to yield significant psychological responses, physical performance, perceived exertion, and physiological functioning benefits.” Beyond the psychological effects such as increased motivation, research has shown that music can actually aid in the recovery process from exercise as well. In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research it was concluded that “listening to motivational music during non structured recovery from intense exercise leads to increased activity, faster lactate clearance, and reduced RPE and therefore may be used by athletes in their effort to enhance recovery.” In this article I would like to share with you the top 5 underground songs and the top 5 mainstream songs that pumped me up to get the best workouts possible in 2016. Enjoy! Disclaimer: Some of these songs are older but they were awesome enough to keep me rocking this year!
Underground Top 5:
Popular Top 5: