Good Reads

I like to think that I have something to offer with this blog.  That my ramblings are of benefit to a few of you who read this.  But I have to say, I spend a lot of time reading other people’s work and there are some crazy smart people out there, and I think you should read stuff from them too.

Cuz, ya know, I don’t want you to get bored with my genius.

What Women Should Never Do (But Often Do) While Trying To Get In Shape: (Part 1 of 6) by Juliet Deane.  A must read for women.  I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of this series.

The Truth About Prescription Fish Oil by Mike Roussell.  Once again Big Pharma tries to crash the party.

Why Everyone Should Be A Kansas City Royals Fan (at least for a day) by Eric Cressey.  If you have any interest in baseball or just like an “overcome the odds/underdog” kind of story, definitely check this out.

Enjoy!

 

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An Exercise You Need To Try: Broomstick Pec Mobilization

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned how one of my mobilization videos was used on EliteFTS.com.  While I didn’t do anything to get that video on the website, it was still cool that it got used.  I thought it might be nice for those of you who checked the video out, to know how to perform the exercise.

First off, this exercise is great for opening up the chest and anterior (front) shoulder muscles.  Most of us tend to be really tight across the chest, due to sitting, talking on cell phones and spending hours on computers both at work and at home.  In short, most people desperately need some more range of motion across the front of their torsos.

Broomstick Pec Mobilization:

What it looks like:

How to do it:

-Begin by standing in a split stance position (one foot in front of the other). Start with your right foot forward and keep your chest tall.

-Take a PVC pipe, dowel or broomstick and place the end of it in the palm of your right hand.

-Grab the other end of the broomstick with your left hand and push it into the palm of your right hand, elevating your hand overhead.

-Push to where you feel a moderate stretch and then return to the starting position.

Complete 6-8 reps and then switch sides.  Make sure to switch your feet too.  I use these as part of clients warm-ups, but also, at times, I use them at the end of sessions for a static stretch.  The only change I make for a stretch instead of a mobilization is to hold in the stretched position for 15-20 seconds.

Give them a shot and let me know what you think!

Look Everybody, McDonalds Got Healthy!…Oh Wait, Never Mind…

I’m pretty sure that we can all agree on the fact that if you’re wanting to lose weight, a steady diet of cheeseburgers, french fries and milkshakes isn’t going to cut it.  If we can’t agree on that…I don’t think we can see each other anymore.  No baby, don’t make it harder than it is.  It’s not me…it’s you.

Nope, this isn't healthy...even if you put lettuce on it.

But the nice thing is that fast food companies give you healthy options so you can still eat their food but feel good about what you’re eating right?  Right? Right? Who’s with me?

Take McDonald’s for example.  Not too long ago they came out with a new product-Fruit and Maple Oatmeal.

Sounds great doesn’t it?  Fruit?  Good.  Oatmeal? Good.  The commercial even says that it’s good for you, so why even think about it?  Go get some now!  In fact it’s so good for you buy two, because you can’t have too much of a good thing!  At least that’s what McDonald’s would have you believe.

I went to McDonald’s website to do a little deeper exploration.  At first glance, things don’t look to bad.  The ingredients are listed as “Oatmeal, Diced Apples, Cranberry Raisin blend, Light Cream.”  Four ingredients.  Not bad.  Until you scroll down a little further and see that most of those “ingredients” have a separate list of ingredients.  For example, oatmeal has seven ingredients.  One of which is brown sugar.  (How is this not listed as it’s own ingredient?)  The light cream also has seven ingredients, five of which I can hardly pronounce.  In total, what McDonald’s has presented as a 4 ingredient food actually has 21 ingredients.  But I’m sure this wasn’t an act of deceiving the consumer into thinking they were eating something healthy.  I bet McDonald’s just didn’t want you to be confused by all those big pesky words.  Thanks guys!

Aside from the misleading list of ingredients, there’s the sugar content.  Which would you think has less sugar-a package of two Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups or McDonald’s Fruit and Maple Oatmeal?  If you said the oatmeal you’re wrong.  Reece’s PB Cups hold 21 grams of sugar.  The oatmeal has 32.  Scary huh?

It is a sad thing when you can take foods like oatmeal and fruit and somehow turn it into junk food.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t worse choices at McDonald’s.  Sure if you’re going to eat there, the Fruit and Maple Oatmeal is going to be better than two Big Mac’s and an Apple Pie, but don’t kid yourself into thinking that it’s a viable option for something nutritional.

The Best Supplement Money Can Buy

I get asked a lot about what supplements I like.  The fitness market is flooded with supplements promising to get people lean/jacked/diced or gain 10 pounds of lean muscle in 30 days.  It’s not much different than the late night infomercials promising the same thing for only 3 payments of $39.99.  But wait there’s more!

I think sometimes people are genuinely interested in whether of not some supplements can give them an edge, and others are just looking for an easy way out.  There’s nothing like seeing a 16 year old kid who weighs 150 pounds soaking wet, coming in to the gym, slamming back some N.O. Explode (an “energy igniter”) and then doing 12 bicep curls in between sets of flexing in the mirror.

You don’t have to search too far to find people that will swear by these products, and that’s fine, I have no issue with that.  I just think that people would be better served spending that money on a bottle of water or a bag of spinach.

Anyway, back to my original point.  There are a few things I recommend clients picking up.  One of them is fish oil.  I know, I know, I know, you’re thinking-NASTY!  Fish oil pills from the days of old actually tasted like fish and left you burping up a nice fish flavored bubble of gas every 6 minutes.  Let me just say, they’re just a little bit better now.  In fact, I’ve bought several different brands over the last few years and haven’t had any issues with flavor.  (Not to say they aren’t out there.)

Fish oil is made up of Omega-3 fatty acids which I’m sure you know are associated with a host of benefits for the human body, including:

-lowering triglyceride levels

-reducing inflammation

-anti-aging benefits

-body fat reduction

While the triglyceride and anti-aging benefits are great, due to my perspective as a trainer, I’m most interested in the reduction of inflammation and the body fat reduction.  It’s important to note that if you’re looking to lose 20+ pounds, taking fish oil while sitting on your butt all day and eating whatever you happen to stick in your face wont get you anywhere at all.  And I don’t have people take fish oil until they have the basics down-eating real food, drinking water, etc. It’s not a cure all for body fat, but when people are training hard and eating right, it can give them an advantage.

If someone is trying to get really really lean, like for an up coming vacation or something, I recommend they take two pills, three times a day.  For those just maintaining, I recommend two pills in the morning.

Give them a shot.  The benefits are really worth it!

 

An Exercise You Need to Try: Plank

So, apparently my subconscious is a thief.  There are a few training blogs I read who have been doing “Exercises You Should Be Doing” blogs long before I came around.  I thought I was so smart and original with my clever little title.  Anyway, I’m changing the name of these blogs to “An Exercise You Need To Try”, so I can sleep at night.  (It never really kept me up at night).

It just struck me this morning that even though I’ve done several “Exercises You Should Be Doing” entries, I’ve never done one covering one of the most basic ab exercises that I use with clients.

Planks are what is considered an anti-extension exercise.  This means that when performing them, your body is resisting going into a state of spinal extension (think arching your back an sticking your stomach out).

Even though they are considered a basic movement, planks are often challenging for clients when I first meet with them.  People lack the strength and body control to perform them correctly.

Here’s what they look like:

Here’s how to perform them:

-Start in a prone position (face down) with your toes and elbows being the only things that are touching the ground.  Keep your feet together.

-Make sure that your hips aren’t sagging or sticking up.  You want to create a straight line from your shoulder to your ankle.

-Flex your abs and your butt as tight as you can.

I have clients work up to 2-3 sets of 60 seconds.  Once they can do this, I move them on to a more challenging variation like this or this.  The reason for this is simply because holding this for more than 60 seconds gets pretty boring.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Carbs 101

I mentioned last week that I was going to begin a new series of blog entries, entitled “(fill in the blank) 101.”  The point being to give basic information on a variety of topics.  I believe that sometimes people feel more empowered when they have a simple understanding of things rather than when they try to grasp all the intricacies.  At the very least, the basics are a good place to start.

Carbs (or carbohydrates) are something that pretty much everyone has heard about.  We’ve heard no carbs, high carbs, low carbs, but I’ve found that most people dont have a solid understanding of what a carb actually is.  Here’s the actual definition:

“any of a class of organic compounds that are polyhydroxyaldehydes or polyhydroxy ketones, or change…ZZZZZZZZZZZZ…OOPS! Sorry didn’t mean to fall asleep during that incredible exciting definition.  Let me try again.

“any of a class of organic compounds that are polyhydroxyaldehydes or polyhydroxy ketones, or change to such substances on simple chemical transformations, as hydrolysis, oxidation, or reduction, and that form the supporting tissues of plants and are important food for animals and people.”


But my guess is that most of you don’t care about that, and probably found the definition fairly boring/confusing.  The good thing is, you don’t need to care about the actual definition too much.  What is important is that you are able to identify carbohydrates and understand how they impact the body.

To break down the above definition something that are specific ketones or can easily become ketones and serve as a vital tissue for plants.

Carbs are usually divided into two groups-complex carbs and simple carbs.  I think things are a bit more involved than this, but for the sake of simplicity, we’re going to use these crude categories.  (Don’t I sound so condescending?)  Complex carbs are a chain of three or more sugar molecules linked together.  Simple carbs, on the other hand, are made of one or two sugar molecules.  Complex carbs are a bit more involved than simple carbs, and they have more structure to them (three + sugar molecules linked versus 1-2).  This makes complex carbs a slower digesting carb, resulting in longer energy and a smaller spike in insulin.  (I’m not going to get into insulin in this post, but maybe in the future.  To be brief, let’s just say that spikes in insulin are not good for you.  Can you say hello diabetes?) Conversely, simple carbs digest rapidly, give you quick but fading energy and result in a higher insulin spike.  This is why drinking soda gives you energy for about 20 minutes and then you feel like poo.

So, now for the million dollar question-So what foods fall under the carbohydrate umbrella?  And are they complex or simple?

A basic rule for what foods are carbs  is, did it grow from the ground?  If the answer is yes, then it is most likely a carb.  This includes if it’s basic ingredients came form the ground.  (An example would be jam.  It’s made mostly of fruit and sugar.  Both of which came form the ground.) Exceptions to this rule would be olives, seeds, nuts, avocados.  These are fats.  But most foods that have grown from the earth are carbs.

Complex carbs are foods that have been minimally disturbed from their original state:

-Vegetables

-Yams and sweet potatoes

-Beans, beans, the musical fruit (although these have a decent source of protein to them)

-Whole grain breads

-Brown rice

-Non-instant oatmeal

Simple carbs would be foods like:

-Fruit

-Non-whole grain breads

-White potatoes

-White Rice

-Cookies, doughnuts, candy

-Jam

-Soft drinks

Now just because fruit is in the same category as soft drinks, don’t go demonizing it.  Yes, it has a simpler structure than complex carbs, but it is has a very different effect on the body than other simple carbs.  (I told you it was a bit more involved than just complex and simple carbs.)

There is much more to carbs then I’ve written about here.  Like when should you eat certain carbs?  Are all complex carbs good for you? Etc.  I’m not going to go into any of that today, but if you want, you can buy me a cup of coffee and I’ll tell you all about it!

I’m just joking.

(But seriously, who wants to buy me coffee and make me feel like I have friends?)

MG makes a guest appearance on EliteFTS.com

OK, so the title is a bit misleading.  Let me explain.  EliteFTS.com is a website I read regularly.  They have tons of articles, equipment, etc. and they are, in my opinion, one of the very best sites for information on strength and conditioning.  They have nothing but the best minds in the field on their staff and to say they’re a big deal is a HUGE understatement.

Yesterday, I was reading a few articles between sessions.  One was titled “13 Tips For Anyone Who Wants To Improve Performance and Look Better Naked Part 1”.

Click this link and scroll to tip #3.

Who is that handsome devil in the second video?

Yup, that’s me.  Right in between videos of Eric Cressey and Nick Tumminello.  And yes, they’re big names.

While I realize that I did nothing of note to get included in this article, (except that the author chose to use my youtube video), and that my excitement over it is a bit silly, it was pretty cool, and surprising, to see myself.

Now, I just need to keep honing my righting skilz so I can get on that site un-accidentally.