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Exercise Without Assumptions: Train for Power


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We rarely enjoy it when individuals make assumptions about us based on our beliefs, how we look or our age. When it comes to moving better and exercise don’t let assumptions about your potential hinder you. Regardless of your age, you should be training for a physical experience – life.  The benefits allow you to move muscle more quickly. Read more about the research behind power training for older adults here.

Power

Not many of us are powerlifters…but all of us do power moves in our daily lives. We don’t move as explosively or straining under enormous amounts of weight – but not every move we do is a fluid or slow movement.

Consider opening up a refrigerator whose magnet is not budging much. A slow and easy pull may not do the job. Instead of tightening your grip, contracting those muscles and giving a forceful pull allows you to open that door.

Other examples of when we use power – climbing stairs, rising from a seated position or lifting objects.

Yes, there is strength involved – but speed is involved when it comes to power. For instance, if you slowly rose from a seated position you may fall back if you didn’t go fast enough. With the ability to stand up firmly without using your hands (or rocking forward) takes power.

We all trip over things – it is the catching that is important. Being able to move quickly and shift your foot so you don’t fall takes not only the ability to move the foot but to firmly plant it. Being able to reach out your hand quick enough to react and grasp something or catch your fall is very important.

Consider adding short bouts of moving with weight and moving as fast as possible to your regime. Of course, consult your physician before starting an exercise program especially if you are getting yourself back on track to train for life!

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What It Means to Listen to Your Body


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You may have heard this many times or read it…

listen to your body.

However there is often very little explaining of what it means and what you should be doing. It really is not that cryptic or ambiguous of a phrase. This is important, so let’s pull down the curtain.

Let’s keep it simple…

Scenario #1

You are walking barefoot on the sidewalk to get the morning paper and didn’t see a shard of glass. Pain happens, possibly some cursing – but it hurt. You stop walking and investigate if you can pull it out or hobble back to the front door & get some tweezers.

You felt pain, stopped and investigated.

Scenario #2

You and a good friend went out for some dinner. On the drive home on the highway you were behind the wheel and your stomach started turning…really turning. There are ten miles to go until your exit but there is a rest stop coming up before then.

You pull off the highway & take that rest stop exit because your stomach was doing somersaults… so make a b-line for the bathroom.

Yes, these scenarios are fairly straightforward – you felt or noticed something going on in your body and you were attentive to what was going on. You did not ignore the pain or uncomfortableness. Instead you were vigilant and decided to do something about it.

Now enter two other scenarios…

Scenario #3

You have been putting down a respectable running regime the last month on the trails. There was no pain or any issues. You are now up to 10 miles twice a week. This week you decide to switch things up and do the same amount of mileage on the pavement instead at the same pace. You find after the second round that halfway through you feel some pain below your knees. The following week instead of the 10 you decide to decrease the road runs to a respectable 6 and then work your way up over time. Also, you sprinkle in some more stretching. Over time that pain subsided and eventually went away.

You backed off on the mileage on the roads and worked your way back up. You also increased the time stretching after runs to target any tight muscles.

Scenario #4

A bagel and a coffee has been your go-to breakfast for a while now. However, you find that by 10:30 a.m. you start dragging and have to grab another coffee to keep on point the rest of the day.  Today you wake up and decide that you are tired of the never-ending battle to stay alert. You begin trying out different things to eat for breakfast and seeing what your energy level is. Soon you found your go-to breakfast that did not leave you wondering why you were always so tired.

You decided to change up your breakfast after you found that crashing before midday was a pattern. After noticing the pattern, you edited & kept on editing you breakfast until you found what would not send you back for another cup of coffee.

You know what it means…now listen!

Honestly if in any of the scenarios someone just ignored what was happening and kept on going – the outcome would not be good. The argument is made often that you can just push through it especially if it is pain related to exercise. I would counter that eventually that pain will come back & will not go away. The solution can be as simple as taking a look at what has changed to make your body react that way. It is one thing if you are uncomforable because of a challenging workout that is targeting those leg muscles during lunges. It is another if you are feeling a sharp pain.

Of course, there may be many things in the mix like stress, muscular imbalances or running form that can be a wild card. Just fight the urge to be stubborn and think that it will just go away (like never addressing tight calves -yes runners I am talking to you!). When it comes to what you put in your body, of course that can be complicated. But again, if you ignore what you are feeling and it is not changing – why not see what you can do about it?

Above all, if you listen and can’t figure out what is going on then talk to a qualified professional that can be your guide. She or he can use their experience, knowledge & objective view of what is going on to assist you. 

Empower yourself to take charge of what is going on with your body. You have a choice – be proactive! You don’t have to do it alone.

 

 

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6 Important Things To Do In A Group Fitness Class


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Some individuals decide to go all in on group fitness classes as their choice of exercise. Others use a group workout as a way to mix things up in between their personal training sessions or their own workouts. However you decide to use group fitness classes to up your exercise game there are some tips on what not to do when you first start…or even if you are a veteran.

 

#1. Show up early.

Especially if this is your first class – get there early to meet the instructor and see what type of equipment that you will be using. Even if you are not able to go into the room because there is a class in session – you can get an idea about the class format, the flow of the class, music and energy level. Also, use this early time to meet the instructor and they will be happy to let you know what is on the menu for that day and show you equipment that you may have not used before. It could be a Silver Sneakers gym or another big setup. Either way you should still get acclimated.  Lastly, getting there early allows you to sign any paperwork that has to be done before your first class.

 

#2.  Let the coach know of any injuries or restrictions that you have.

Before class starts – always let the coach know that you have a sore knee, shoulder issues, some injury or for instance have broken something in the past. This gives the coach an opportunity before the class starts for a quick one-on-one chat about any exercises that you should avoid and what you can do instead.  If you are pregnant let the instructor know and what you can do. Often pregnant women know how to do alternative exercises, even so just let the coach know!

#3. Challenge yourself & give 100% effort.

One of the motivating aspects of a group class is the infectious energy that is in the room. This one of the reasons people love group classes because of a community that keeps each other going. Motivation is great. However comparing yourself to someone else and trying to do what they are doing could end you up injured. Allow them to motivate you to give your 100% effort. Use that!!  If your 100% effort is not matching their effort who cares? The instructor can introduce 1-ups to an exercise to make it more challenging for them. If you can’t do it yet – then use that as your motivation to come back next class and get better.

#4.  Pay attention as the coach demos the exercises.

The class has started and you are ready to kill it and get moving. There will be times during the class where she goes over what you are doing.  This is important. You may know how to do a squat or some other movement but pay attention to how the coach does it. He may have something he is specifically asking the class to do or is giving options that are useful especially if you are finding it challenging – or not challenging enough.

#5.  Ask questions before the class gets started.

If during the demo the coach does or says something that you don’t understand – ask her. If during the workout you want to know how to challenge yourself more without adding weight – ask her during a break. Of course, this is not a personal training session.  The coaches focus will be on the entire group & there are a lot of moving parts for her to juggle. Even with that in mind, questions to clarify how to do an exercise or a progression should be asked!

#5. If you know you will  – or do sweat a lot – bring your towel.

Sweating is a good thing. Sweating on equipment that a person in the class with you uses 30 seconds after you – is not. Don’t expect that the facility that you are checking out has towels. Be proactive!

Untitled design#6. Give out high-fives & fist bumps like they are going out of style.

Get some of that good energy flowing! Many friendships are started in group classes. There is a great community in group classes regardless of the type of workout or fitness level. You all may have different reasons why you are there but you came together to workout!

Blog

Take a 360 Degrees Look at Your Health


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Exercise is an important piece of the puzzle – but it is important to take a good look at how you spend the rest of your day. An awesome 45-minute workout three times a week is great. Just keep in mind that you want to compliment that good habit.  Below are some of the things to keep in mind when putting your health in perspective. Compliment that good workout with what you have in your control to change in your daily life!

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Food & Hydration

Look at what you are eating on a daily basis. What are your eating habits? How much water are you drinking a day? Also, are you fueling your body before your workout and feeding those muscles after the workout along with enough water. Keeping a food journal is a great idea – if anything you will see some patterns in how you feel that day or later after eating certain foods. Consult qualified professionals that can give you some advice about proper nutrition in regards your body in particular. General advice such as the portion control tips that is helpful, but sometimes seeking a professional can be more useful.

 

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Stress

We all know how stress can affect our body and our lives on a daily basis. Between our jobs, life stress and the real struggle to step away from it at the end of the day – it can snowball and affect all aspects of our daily life…including our sleep. It can be easier said than done to lead a less stressful life. One of the tricks is to find what works for you to ease the stress in a healthy way. Yes, exercise can help relieve some of that tension or mind/body techniques like yoga.

A new baby is like thebeginning of all things-hope, a dream of possibilities.

Your Parents

Genetics is something that we really don’t have considerable control over (yet). We have diseases or traits that are in our family tree. Some argue that “genetics load the gun & our environment pulls the trigger.” In other words, the argument is that a small percentage of a disease is caused by genetics and a larger is influenced by lifestyle choices and environment.  Even stepping outside of the genetic argument – what habits (good or bad) have you learned from your parents? Sometimes the bad habits need to be broken.

 

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Environment

Our environment is just as it sounds, where we live, work and play. Living in a place where you are able to walk more than you need to drive can affect your daily health. We have all seen the numerous articles about the bad effects of sitting down every day – so jobs, where we are at a desk all day or are able to walk around often, can make a difference. Further, not everyone is able to benefit from living situations that are free of things in and surrounding their homes that can affect their health.

 

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Use Your Body – Move It, Test It


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Only if we actually test ourselves or apply something we know do we find out our true capabilities. This rings true when it comes to our own physical fitness. You can run 4 miles with ease, you are good at climbing over things or you ride 10 miles on your bicycle a day. It is obvious to you that you can do it. However, the best way to assess and challenge your fitness level is to seek out a way to put it to the test. Sure there are aesthetic benefits to this, but instead of that you are more focused on what is even more important – results!! Below are some ideas on how to do this.

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Photo Credit – Westend61/Creative RF/Getty

Map a course, plan your own “event” & get a timer

One of the easiest options is to do set out the route, mileage or goal to accomplish. Then set some prescribed goal and go for it! Even if this is the same route that you always do, this time it is different with the timer running. It can be very motivating when something is under timed conditions when usually the goal was just to do it.

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Track your progress

Building upon the 1st idea…Create a simple excel document to make a tracking document. All you really need is the name of activity, date and time. You can add extra columns for notes that you can add after that day like how you were feeling, what you ate before etc. Now you have a bar set after day one of recording your time. Having this on the wall will not only motivate you but you will also soon see patterns in your performance. Perhaps you didn’t sleep well the night before, stretched out the night before or had one too many cocktails the night before. All of those factors and more can affect how you do. Now you can understand more about your own body and learn how to make your weaknesses strengths.

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Competitor Gear Run Guide gives some options

Use the technology & the gadgets

There is technology that allows you can tap into an online community to test yourself. Posting your times on a website will give you the satisfaction, motivate others and make you feel part of the larger community. Wearing gadgets that automatically posts times of your results is another way to enter into fun competitions of one’s physical fitness. The options are quite varied and more come out every day so there are many ways to use technology with yourself or as part of a community.

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Signed up, check, crushed it – check! 🙂

Sign up for a race, train and crush it on race day

Now unplugging from the online community you could show up on race day! Now you have shifted fully into training mode. Now you have your sights set on a particular day. It is time to truly channel that inner athlete and train. Avoid doing that specific movement every session. It is time to challenge the body in ways that can build the foundation around completing the event well. Do your homework on the event – terrain, what the course includes or gear that would make it easier is very relevant to your training.

 

 

 

 

Blog

Six Ways To Weave Exercise Back Into Your Life


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If it has been a while since you have seriously started exercising again it can be tempting to hit the ground running. Figuring out a plan of attack is a better way to set up yourself up for sustainable success. Below are 6 ways to weave exercise back into your life.

  1. Don’t restrict yourself to the stereotypical ways to exercise. Of course – going to the gym, getting a membership, attending fitness group classes etc. are all awesome ways to improve your health and move towards your goals. However, joining an intramural sports group, hiking group, biking to work or getting your hands dirty tending to your garden are all good ideas also. What works for someone else may not work for you, so explore the options in and out of a gym setting.
  1. Look at your week – find the time to schedule your activity. Hold yourself accountable to the times you set aside to exercise. If you are still paying that gym membership and have not gone for months – consider ending it. Use that money in another way that will move you towards your fitness goals. Also – work with the time that you have, then revisit your schedule in a month or so to see how you can make more time.
  1. Find a community. If you don’t already have a buddy or friends that can help welcome you back into the fray…seek some out. If you enjoy posting your workouts online and having others hold your accountable, then give it a shot. Start your own fitness blog & give updates. You will be surprised about how supportive others are & are inspired by your efforts. Offline or online find some sort of community, individual or fitness professional that will cheer you on and hold you accountable at the same time. You are not alone.
  1. Avoid defining yourself by being out of shape etc. Focus on your future of making exercise more a part of your life! You are taking ownership of your health and making an important recognition of its importance. Start making the right choices now. Be patient with your progress, exercise is not one size fits all!
  1. Recognize that exercise is an important piece of the puzzle. Exercise is a substantial move towards a fitter you. At the same time recognize other things that contribute to it like: stress, sleep, what you are eating on a constant basis. As you start getting into your exercise groove start try tracking what you are eating for a week, how much you are getting sleep and what your energy levels were. Turn to qualified individuals if you need guidance on those areas so you can see more gains.
  1. Stop Making Excuses. Until someone comes up with an invention for someone else to exercise and you receive the health benefits…you have to do it yourself! You know yourself better than anybody. If you know you don’t have the energy to workout when you get home after work – then do it in the morning. If you don’t like exercising outside – then get a gym membership and use it. If you work better under pressure – sign up for a race 4 or so months from now. You can do this. Be a fitter version of yourself.

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You got this! Welcome back!

 

-Damien

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Writing A Blog Post Instead of Working On My Business Plan – Events on My Horizon In 2017


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So the last couple of weeks I have been working on my Business Plan when I am not doing anything else. It is a process. Let us not talk about that.

 

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Insert caption regarding working on a Business Plan yourself. Try to keep eyebrows raised & head cocked.

Instead I am going to daydream about events I am either planning to do that I am considering in 2017.

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Great group – the Goruck event I did earlier this year.
  1. Goruck Tough Challenge. This one is a given. I do it every year now. It is the first event I do of the year to get things kicked off right. I won’t talk again about why I do it as I have done that before. This is probably the hardest event I usually do all year so why not start off on top & everything else is a tad bit easier. Also I always feel absolutely accomplished after it. Each one is a different experience.

 

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There they go…hills, stairs & the wilderness awaits.
  1. Dipsea Race. I was looking into some different races & came across this one. Now even if I do throw my name in the hat I won’t hold my breath if I get on the list. But come March I will do so. Number if racers is limited to 1,500…500 of that are first come first serve (via post)…then there is a lottery for 300 and there are a few other ways to get invited to the race. Why is this on my list? It is challenging, quirky and has history to it (been going since 1905!). I like that.

 

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  1. Civilian Military Combine (CMC). This one looks interesting. It has an OCR angle to it but also a strength element that will draw those who like the Workout Of The Day format for 5 minutes. It definitely will even the playing grounds from those that are good at solely lifting & those that are great on the obstacles as the 5 min strength element is done before the race.

 

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Photo Credit
  1. Tough Mudder. Now this one arguably I have to do…since I volunteered earlier this year at one & now have a much cheaper entry fee. I am not gonna lie. I am not a big fan of the bigger races trying to outdo each other with over the top obstacles. Being shocked by wires or jumping into an oversized bathub of 500lbs of ice is not on my bucket list. That is why longingly looked at my calendar at the race I was to do last weekend. That was a great race. Oh well. But I guess I will give it a shot also.

 

If I am able to do even three of these I will be happy. I like my races spaced out a bit so I don’t over train or get injured. Goruck will be in March. The rest we shall see!!

 

Okay, I guess I have to get back to this other writing. More substantive posts after Turkey Day! Have a great holiday all!!

 

-Damien

 

 

Tips

Ten Ways To Spice Up Your Workout


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An easy way to become burnt out when exercising, hit a plateau or just plain bored is having it become a routine. Yes a routine of waking up to work out is great…but even calling the workout a routine is putting you to sleep right now. See! Check out the list below for some inspiration to get things back into gear.

  1.  Unilateral Exercises. For instance, make the transition from regular squats to other types that will target one leg more than the other. Ideas: staggered squats, split squats or Bulgarian squats. Instead of using both arms pressing and pulling, make the exercise more of a stability + strength. Ideas: single arm press on one knee, alternating flys on a swissball or single arm deadlift with a kettlebell.
  1. Trail Running. On the day you do run, find some uneven surfaces to run on. This will make you a stronger runner as it will strengthen those legs and force you to use those stabilizers. Don’t have trails around? Find some stairs or hills to run. Start off easy. If it is new for your body – ease into it. Depending on the terrain you may want to get some trail running shoes so your feet are protected & you have a better grip. A big plus of trail running – not having to deal with cars (and the texting drivers)!!
  1. Get On The Ground. Body-weight movements that incorporate the whole body are great to keep your body guessing. Ideas: bear crawls, inchworms or Turkish get-ups even without weight can be challenging. When they become easy there are progressions such as bear squares, inchworms for distance or Turkish get-ups with a weight.
  1. Start Timing. You like your workout or one of them and don’t want to switch it out. Understood. So instead of just busting out what you usually do, time yourself. The first time you do it, the bar is set. Even if you shave off a couple of seconds the next week you are still motivating yourself. Keep track of this so you keep yourself accountable. Maybe you will see when you are faster or slower by how you are eating or the amount of sleep you got. Also it is important to note some exercises like Turkish getup for instance are all about the steps & should not be rushed. In those instances look at how much time you are resting & see if you can shorten that.
  1. Go Old school, Get A Jump Rope. It is cheap and all you need is a hard surface to jump on. Getting some expensive item is not necessary for a good workout. If doing it for time is too daunting, just shoot for number of skips. This is a great cardio & full body workout. Famous boxers didn’t jump rope just for the photo ops. If music helps you, then put some tunes in your ear and start jumping.
  1. Go Play. Team sports are a great opportunity for comradery, having some fun & the bonus of getting some exercise in. It is a great cross-training activity to give you a break from thinking about working out to just being part of a team. Competitive levels range so depending on how focused you are on winning.
  1. Test Your Balance. I don’t mean just stand on one foot (although give it a shot & close your eyes). Instead of doing standing rows, have a staggered stance so you have a narrower footprint. Or give single-leg slams with a slam ball or medicine ball a chance. Stay on that leg for a pre-determined number of reps or for time. Single leg deadlifts will fire off the muscles in that planted leg and test your ability to hinge up and down. If you have accessibility to a TRX single leg squats or even the sprinter’s start exercise require some balance to perform correctly.
  1. Stop Doing The Same Freaking Thing. If you take anything away from this list is that diversity is key. Keep your body guessing & you have less of a chance of hitting a plateau. You will be more balanced and looking forward to the next workout. Sure you love doing whatever workout you have…that may be because you are so good at it! Switch it up to something difficult or new that you have to get good at.
  1. Go For A Hike. Often when we all think of “working out” we think of weights, gyms and reps. We all fall prey to that sometimes. So pack the sunscreen, hydration bladder and go for a hike at one of the many trails we have in San Diego or if you live close to some parks. Find a challenging hike, grab some friends and pack some rewarding snacks.
  1. Hire A Personal Trainer. I know of a great one here in San Diego! 🙂 Use me as your supplement to your own workout. We can work together to meet your goals like endurance, strength, fat loss or just to have more energy in life! Only YOU can decide when your health is a priority. When you are ready to make that investment on your health we should chat because then you are ready to Get Incremental.

 

If you have any questions for me or inquires about Incremental Fitness feel free to hit me up at [email protected] Have a great week!!