4 Tips to Feel Great With Strength Training

blog-strength-training-calorie-burn-fat-loss-01

If your strength training workouts don’t make you feel great or, worse, leave you feeling achy or beat up, then you need to change things. Now. Here’s how.

Below you’ll find four tips I use with clients (and myself) who complained that lifting weights didn’t “feel good” or left them feeling achy. Whether you’re an older lifter and want to strength train as safely as possible, you have previous aches and pains you want to alleviate, or you want your workouts to make you feel better and have more energy, give these four tips a try during your next workout.

Tip 1: Slow down your reps.*

This tip is simple to practice but also very effective, especially if you’ve previously experienced discomfort or pain from strength training workouts. Give this a try during your next workout (or even test it now with a set of push-ups) to experience it for yourself.

Slow down your reps by taking approximately 2-3 seconds to perform the lowering portion of the exercise. You don’t need to count, but noticeably slow down your rep performance. Using a push-up as an example, take 2-3 seconds to lower yourself down to the ground.

Then smoothly reverse the motion; do not use momentum or “bounce” back up. Sticking with the push-up example, after you lower yourself down, smoothly reverse the motion and press back up. It may help to add a slight pause in the bottom position to ensure you don’t bounce out of the bottom.

Click here to read the rest of Nia’s tips with videos.

**This article was written by Nia Shanks, and is published on her blog “Lift Like a Girl.” Nia Shanks is a writer and coach, and leader of the Lift Like a Girl revolution. She helps women discover and reach their potential through an empowering approach to health, fitness, and life. niashanks.com

Concepts for the Refueling Day

vegan_black_bean_pizza_recipe

Enjoying a hard-earned cheat meal, a.k.a refuel meal, is always good on the physique, and the mind too. But using cheat meals the right way can make or break your physique.

Strangely enough, with the growing numbers of orthorexics (aka “diet Nazis”) in the field of health and fitness, some might not be cheating often enough, or eating too little extra calories to make a difference in their metabolic rate. Of course, at the other end of the spectrum we have those who think it’s perfectly normal to have a large pizza and a dozen donuts because they’re exhausted after walking an extra block with their dog.

This is why most diets or physique transformation boot camps last for 12-weeks, by the way. It’s sufficient time to see results and take pictures, while the client can maintain discipline. But after this, most return to their usual habits and binge as a way to compensate for eating boiled chicken and broccoli for 3 months, often gaining back the fat they lost with a little extra. This is why I’m against coaches who never allow their clients to deviate from their diets. Not only does it stress the client out, but a well-placed cheat will in fact help their physique composition goal. It’s my experience that most client will lose fat faster, and stick to their meal plan longer, if they are allowed to have a cheat meal every 4 to 6 days. But it has to be a cheat meal, not a cheat day.

Click here to find out how I have my clients cheat to optimize their fat loss

*This article is written by Charles R. Poliquin
Charles R Poliquin is recognized as one of the World’s most accomplished strength coaches who attributes his success to the quest for the “magical training program”. Now as Strength Sensei he shares his acquired knowledge and wisdom with the emerging leaders in the strength and conditioning field. Now after decades of disciplined research and training he has refined his craft so he can educate the dedicated few who want to maximize their learning so they can bring their results back to their athletes. Charles now dedicates his time to educate strength coaches from around the world so they can produce world class athletes.

5 Health and Fitness Principles That Don’t Suck

wellness

There’s no shortage of nonsensical information in the world of health and fitness. When’s the last time you exclaimed, “Oh goody! Another 3 Foods to Avoid at All Costs if You Want to Get Lean and Toned and Finally Like How You Look in a Swimsuit article?

Like the world needs another one of those.

Sometimes I can laugh at the utterly ridiculous crap that floats around social media. But other times it upsets me because much of it adds to the false notion that health and fitness is complicated.

There’s infinite amounts of rubbish swirling around regarding health and fitness, and you’re tired of it, right? You want simple, proven principles that actually work so you don’t have to waste time or be unnecessarily stressed.

The following five (no nonsense) principles do just that.

5 Health and Fitness Principles (That Don’t Suck)

1) Eat mostly real, minimally processed foods. Put an emphasis on consuming plenty of plant-based foods (e.g., fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains). Other great foods include dairy, eggs, poultry, meat, and seafood. (For additional information see The Diet That Has No Name.)

2) Strength train 2-4 days per week. This is according to your preferences and time availability. Whether you want to lift heavy barbells at the local gym two or three days per week or work out at home with bodyweight exercises; do what works for you. Use primarily large, compound exercises and improve your performance a little each time you repeat a workout.

Click here to read the rest of Nia’s article

**This article was written by Nia Shanks, and is published on her blog “Lift Like a Girl.” Nia Shanks is a writer and coach, and leader of the Lift Like a Girl revolution. She helps women discover and reach their potential through an empowering approach to health, fitness, and life. niashanks.com

Working Out Shouldn’t Hurt & Your Diet Shouldn’t be Miserable

pain_exercise_image

How you eat and move your body should make you feel good about yourself and make your life better. Fitness should not cause pain, and your diet shouldn’t rule your life.

Seriously, what the hell is going on?

It seems like more than ever I hear people talk about how “brutally sore they are” and how “everything hurts.”

Despite causing pain, people continue to perform workouts that hurt. Hell, some people are treating pain like it’s a badge of honor (It almost killed me and it hurts to walk, but I did it!).

I can’t believe this actually needs to be said: your workouts should not hurt. They should not cause you pain. If you’re constantly in pain from your workouts, something is wrong and needs to be addressed immediately.

I’ve had this same conversation with several men over the years (especially when I worked in a commercial gym).

“Damn my shoulder is killing me. Every time I bench press it gets worse. Any ideas what I should do?”

“Since you asked: first, you need to stop performing the barbell bench press. Second –.”

“No.”

“Excuse me?”

“No. I’m not going to stop benching.”

“Well then. There’s nothing else I can really say, other than to enjoy your future rotator cuff surgery.”

In this example, the problem is somewhat easy to solve. Replace an exercise that causes pain (bench press) with a similar movement that can be done pain-free (for many, in this example, that would be a dumbbell bench press variation or even a barbell bench press at a low incline). Combine that exercise swap with an increase in upper back work (e.g., face pulls, rows, band pull-aparts, etc) and those sore shoulders may start to feel a lot better; I’ve seen it work numerous times.

Click here to read the rest of Nia’s article.

**This article was written by Nia Shanks, and is published on her blog “Lift Like a Girl.” Nia Shanks is a writer and coach, and leader of the Lift Like a Girl revolution. She helps women discover and reach their potential through an empowering approach to health, fitness, and life. niashanks.com

Take a break, improve your nutrition

 busy-calendar-2

I’m not above putting a task on my to-do list after I’ve completed it just so I can have the satisfaction of checking it off. Or listing things I’m unlikely to forget like “shower” and “make breakfast” so I can check them off and get that little dopamine reward in my brain. Feels good to get stuff done.

But there’s a dark side to buying into our culture’s penchant for busyness. Especially if you make your self-worth contingent on how much you get done in a day, compromising your physical and mental well-being.

If you have a hard time giving yourself permission to take regular breaks, there’s a good chance it’s negatively impacting your eating habits. How? Here are a couple of different ways this can show up—and what to do about them:

1)  You find yourself making numerous trips to the kitchen–even though you’re not hungry. If you struggle with giving yourself permission to take intentional breaks, your body and mind will settle for a pseudobreak: eating. You might rationalize, “Hey, everybody’s gotta eat. At least that’s productive.” Meanwhile, the mindless autopilot eating isn’t so satisfying, and overeating convenient snack foods may lead to less energy…ironically leading to even more eating to pick up your energy (or as a response to food guilt).

Try this: When you notice the kitchen is calling your name even though you’re not hungry, take a moment to get curious and ask yourself, “What am I asking the food to do for me?” 

Maybe your body or mind needs a break, and taking a few minutes to close your eyes, surf the web, call a friend, take a mini nap, step outside, read a magazine, make some tea or stretch would be more restorative than raiding the fridge and pantry. There’s evidence that giving the mind regular breaks improves productivity and creativity.

Or maybe you’re working on a project and hit a rough spot. The inquiry, “What am I asking the food to do for me?” may help you realize you’re tempted to procrastinate on the project and a trip to the kitchen sounds like a good way to distract.

Once you’ve named what’s going on, you can then make a conscious decision on what to do next. Maybe you decide you’re going to tackle the project for just 10 more minutes and then check in to see if you’re willing to do more. Or perhaps you decide to take a 15-minute break—or wait to tackle the project tomorrow. You might even decide to enjoy a snack mindfully even though you’re not hungry—without guilt. The key is to identify what’s going on so you can make a conscious decision, rather than eating compulsively (or restricting) and not knowing why.

The comedian Louis C.K. is a surprising source of nutritional wisdom. In a Rolling Stoneinterview, he says, “Once you say that to yourself, ‘Oh, this is anxiety,’ you get to say to yourself, ‘Why am I anxious?’ because when something’s bothering you, you don’t name it, you just start eating something. I’m still going to eat the two Twinkies, but when I start opening the second package, I say to myself, ‘What’s going on, buddy?’ That will get me to two Twinkies instead of eight.”

2)  You overpack your schedule. Whenever someone asks how you’re doing, your response is usually, “Busy!” Your hectic way of moving through your day leads to missed meals and snacks and/or mindless eating. You might experience more moments of feeling “hangry,” feeling more anxious/stressed or making food decisions that don’t feel so good to your body, all thanks to low blood sugar.

Try this:  If at all possible, try scheduling fewer things in a day (but you already knew that, didn’t you?). Experiment with blocking out a little “white space” or buffer time between appointments and tasks. It’s easy to underestimate the amount of time we need to do something or get somewhere. And it can be an act of wisdom and mercy to lower your standards.

Another idea is to schedule in regular meals and snacks, just like you do your other appointments. That may not feel “intuitive” but I assure you, it’s good self-care. Besides, when your schedule is hectic or chaotic, it can make your eating chaotic. It’s harder to stay connected to your body and be able to notice signals like gentle hunger and fullness when your body’s stress response is activated and adrenalin is high.

**This article is written by Minh-Hai Alex, a registered dietitian and certified health and wellness coach from Seattle, Washington. Her specialties include Intuitive Eating, eating disorders, emotional eating, sports nutrition, IBS, PCOS, and certain other health concerns.

Visit Minh-Hai’s website, and read her blog for more information: Mindful Nutrition