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Please Note: I am not a doctor.
Please consult a physician
prior to attempting any of
the example workout routines
showcased in this blog.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Shoulder Rehabilitation/Conditioning Exercises

The shoulder is a truly impressive joint in the body. The shoulder is the only joint in the body that can rotate 360 degrees forwards and backwards. Being the most mobile joint in the body, this can create a lack of stability within the joint. Think of it like this: If a metal rod is able to move and rotate in so many different directions, how securely can that metal rod be secured to its stand. In order to be able to attain that level of mobility, the foundation stability is sacrificed. This is why the shoulder is more susceptible to dislocations and subluxations.

For those of you who have been very lucky and have never had severe shoulder issues, congratulations. However, it is wise to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints to ensure future stability and optimum joint health.

For those of you with rotator cuff issues, shoulder surgery or any stiffness in the joint, rehabilitation and conditioning exercises will definitely help in joint healing and joint strength progression.

3 Effective Shoulder Conditioning/Rehab Exercises:

1. Wall Roll-Ups

2. Wall Circles

3. Circles in the Sand

Tuesday, April 27, 2010



Yes, it's in all capital letters for a reason. Overtraining is one of those things that even the fittest individuals can fall victim to. According to, overtraining (staleness) is characterized by premature fatigue, decline in performance, mood changes, emotional instability and decreased motivation. Basically the individual's body is in a chronic state of insufficient recovery time as a result of prolonged or intense exercise activity.

I recently fell victim to overtraining. It is the perfect example for this blog. I had been running low on sleep for several days prior. I decided since I was feeling sluggish, I should go for a run on the treadmill even though I would've much rather taken a nap. I still felt the need to do a little something before I could go home and rest. I attempted my run for 45 minutes and finished it off. I didn't feel too great afterwards so I decided to add another 15 minutes on the elliptical. After that, I still didn't feel the normal rush of endorphins after 60 minutes of cardio. I went home and finished my day. The next day, I woke up and weighed myself. I actually gained 5 pounds. I am not saying the weight gain is directly related, but my diet is consistently healthy and I didn't eat anything out of the ordinary. I also still felt physically, emotionally and mentally drained.

I couldn't help but laugh to myself as I had been talking with renowned Professional/Olympic athlete trainer, Randy Hadley ( regarding my feeling and situation. He suggested I skip the workout altogether to go home and rest. Me being stubborn, I chose not to follow his advice and still did that 60 minutes of cardio. Not only did I not listen, I did a workout that I didn't feel 100% for and didn't feel as though I even really was able to accomplish anything. There I was 5 pounds heavier, even more tired and knowing Randy was right. I now realized how important it is to obviously listen and follow such an accomplished professional's advice but also to know when my body needs rest and time to recover.

This is classic for those of us who are regular gym goers. Sometimes we don't feel up to the workout, but we force ourself to go thinking even if I go and I give 65%, at least I did something. THIS IS WONG!! It is actually more productive to go home rest, stretch and a light walk if absolutely necessary prior to forcing yourself to go to the gym when you aren't feeling up to it. Taking the time to rest one day will help you recover better and faster so that the next time you have a workout you are feeling 100% up for anything.

Recognize Overtraining:
- Feeling Fatigued
- Mild Leg/Muscle Soreness
- Headaches
- Increased Susceptibility to Injury
- Increased Resting Heart Rate
- Mood Changes
- Unusual Weight Loss/Gain
- Restlessness/Irregular Sleep Pattern

Prevent Overtraining:
- Know Your Limits
- Get Plenty of Rest
- Know That it IS okay to take time off
--> Even the Olympic athletes recover by taking at least 1 week where they do no athletic activity
- Realize When You Have Exercised Excessively
- Use Variety in Workouts to Avoid Staleness/Plateaus

Know When Your Body Needs a Rest!
Keep Up the Good Work!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Plyometrics: Box Jumps

Plyometrics: Also referred to as 'Jump Training'

A very good plyometric move to focus on speed and explosive power is the Box Jump. These exercises are great for using bodyweight and gravity when training. Typical box jump training is done with boxes at different heights. The typical measurements are 12" (typically used for Step-Ups), 18" and 24". The advanced athletes (professional football and basketball players) typically used the 30", 36" or 42" box.

Example of Box Jumps Using 28 Inch Box:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sample Stretching Routine

Let's go through some of the static stretches that can be done AFTER a workout as both a cool-down and to lengthen those muscles that were just worked.

















Thursday, April 15, 2010

Stretching 101

Before creating your stretching program, it is important to differentiate between the type of stretching. Here are the four basic categories defining the types of stretching to perform:

1.Ballistic Stretching
Ballistic stretching is one of the more 'retro' style of stretching. It is performed by bouncing repeatedly. *Please Note: This is NOT recommended due to the safety concerns with ballistic stretching* It is only mentioned to be thorough in this explanation.

2.Dynamic Stretching
Dynamic stretching is more of an active warm-up involving movements that are similar to that of the activity about to be performed. These stretches may be exaggerated yet controlled when performed.

3.Static Stretching
Static stretching may be most commonly thought of regarding the topic of stretching. This technique involves stretching a muscle to the point of slight discomfort for an extended period of time. The length is usually 10-60 seconds.

4.PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) Stretching
PNF Stretching is usually done for athletic training that involves a partner (usually the trainer/coach) stretching the athlete. The stretch involves a contraction of the muscle being stretched as well as a relaxation of that muscle. The most commonly used PNF technique is the stretch hold, contract, relax. There is usually 10 seconds of pushing, and then 10 seconds of relaxing the muscle. This helps to improve flexibility quicker, though is not as effective when done alone.


Let's talk about flexibility.

Flexibility is one of the most important factors to incorporate into a fitness program. The definition of flexibility is the range of motion around a specific joint. The great thing about flexibility is the more it is done, the better the range of motion, thus increasing the ease of movement for activities of daily living.

Flexibility is important for all individuals regardless of their current fitness levels. Better flexibility can improve blood circulation, contribute to injury prevention, correct muscular imbalances as well as increasing muscle pliability and muscle lengthening.

If there is one single activity you can commit to every day for your fitness regime, it should be a solid stretching program.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Body Fat 101

The word FAT tends to be overused and incorrectly described for some individuals. Let's explore the word FAT.

In medical terms, the word fat is used to describe adipose tissue. This adipose tissue is stored for future use or over extended periods of time. The location of where this tissue is stored is not going to be the same for every individual. The deposit locations of adipose tissue depend on several different factors. These factors include genetics, areas of the body not readily accompanied with muscle or other body parts that aren't heavily engaged in activities of daily living. For example, for someone who is a web designer and spends 8-14hrs/day sitting in front of a computer may tend to have larger deposits of adipose tissue in their thighs and glutes than an individual who works on an assembly line at a factory.

So how do we know what is really fat vs. muscle?

This is where Fitness Assements come into play. These assessments help to analyze an individual's body fat percentage and gauge the appropriate protocol for attaining the ideal healthy weight. Too many people focus on the number of pounds they should 'lose'. Look at the percentage of body fat you have. *This can only be accurate if you have a professional take your body fat percentage for you*

Your body fat percentage should then be compared against a chart that serves as a guide for approximated healthy body fat percentage ranges.

Here's ACE's Body Fat Percentage Chart:

Here's a visual:
5 Pounds of Fat vs. 5 Pounds of Muscle

Note how much space the 5 pounds of fat takes up compared to 5 pounds of muscle.

Interpretting Your Body Fat Percentage:
Once a professional performs your fitness assessment, you can find out your body fat percentage. Once you have your percentage, how do you interpret how much you need to lose/gain to attain your ideal healthy weight?

Sample Fitness Assessment:
Let's say you are a 30 year old female weighing 130 pounds with 23% body fat.

Initial body fat: 130pounds x 0.23 fat = 30 pounds of body fat

Lean body mass: 130 pounds total - 30 pounds fat = 100 pounds lean body mass (bones, organs, muscle, essential adipose tissue etc.)

Instead of having a goal of losing x number of pounds, it would be better for this woman to have a goal of reducing her body fat percentage from 23% to 18%.

130 pounds x 0.18 = 23 pounds of body fat

100 pounds lean body mass + 23 pounds = 123 pounds Goal Weight

The more individualized and specific your fitness goals are, the more likely you are to achieve them. A general weight loss goal is good for initial fitness but taking a fitness assessment will help determine solid numbers for tracking your fitness progress. Be sure to ask for a fitness assessment from your local certified professionals to jumpstart your fitness goals.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Running Concerns

A very good friend of mine recently approached me regarding her current running routine. She asked me to take a look at her routine and tweak it a little bit. If you are in a similar situation take a look at some of the tips I give to Kirstyn as they may apply to you as well. Also, if other fellow runners have any suggestions, by all means add your two cents!

Kirstyn's Routine:
1. Stretch

2. Run:
5 miles pace 9:45 (this is my general run)
7.5 miles pace 10:00 (I do this once a week)
10 miles pace 11:00 (I do this every other week, occasionally back to back weeks)

3. After Run:
1/4 mile walk

4. Every Other Day:
3 sets of 20 - Lunges
3 sets of 10 - Push-ups
3 sets of 10 - Leg Raises(lower ab)
3 sets of 35 - Sit-ups
3 sets of 35 - Calf Raises

Issue #1:
While running during mile 2-4 I get pain in my top to ab muscles. It feels like side stitch but in the center. How do I prevent/treat this?

Issue #2:
Also I noticed on my 10 milers I stop sweating from miles 6-8 and then I start sweating again. What is that?


My Response to Kirstyn's Questions:

1. First things first, when you say stretch are you doing static stretching prior to your run? I've been doing some reading on the scientific journals for exercise science & they've concluded static stretching actual decreases your muscular ability so static stretching should only be done at the very end of a workout whether cardio or strength training. For prior to running focus on dynamic stretching such as going through movements fluidly rather than holding stretches.
Ex: 50% effort on lunges, glute kicks, high knees etc.

Check out some good dynamic stretches here:

2. Are you running on pavement or grass or beach? Terrain will definitely have some degree of influence on how your body feels.

Also are your shoes new? What's the brand and how long have you had them? Typically I would recommend not going more than 100 miles in a pair of shoes but that gets very expensive, though worth it considering your trying to preserve your body & prevent injury.

3. For your strength training that you do:
I'm assuming your doing all of these(calf raises, lunges, push-ups etc) without added weight?
Chances are your body has adjusted to these moves.
Change them up by adding additional weight or using the following modifications to present more challenging moves for your body.

Lunges: Not knowing how you do your lunges I'm going to give you a quick rundown. Never do walking lunges. Too high a risk of injurying the knee. Stationary lunges are definitely more efficient(either stepping forward with each leg then returning to starting position or stepping backward with each leg to target the gluteus medius & maximus more efficiently)
However, for you I would recommend Split jumps. Lunge out with left leg --> This is your starting position. Jump up & switch legs in mid air so that when you land you are in lunge position with the right leg out in front. Do 30 of these nonstop (1 jump = 1 rep)

I would also challenge you to do squat jumps. Same thing as split jumps though your starting position is in a squat. As you jump up try to make this move explosive & reach above your head then land in your starting position of a squat again. I find these are easier when I do them in a doorway so I have something high up to reach for & tap.

Push-Ups: Check your form. Make sure your back is flat like a table top. Your abs should be contracted & should be working through entire movement. Depending on what you have available, play with angles. Prop your feet up on a bench/chair for a decline push up. This transfers more weight onto your upper body. Try diamond push-ups targeting the triceps. Alternate with holding 1 leg extended in the air while doing push-ups then alternate holding the other leg up in the air. *This will throw your body alignment off so be sure it doesn't compromise your form.

Sit-Ups: How are you doing these?

Calf Raises: Do these with added weight or if you do them with just your body weight, raise & hold for up to 30 seconds for each rep.

Leg Raises: How are you doing these? To effectively target the lower abdominals the hip flexors need to remain stabilized. Meaning when people tend to "work their lower abdominals" they end up basically doing hip flexion. To engage the abdominals & work them primarily, your hip angle must begin at 90 degrees and then decrease the angle from that point. If you were to sit on the end of a bench/chair. Lean back raise your legs (bent/straight) I would recommend bent legs as straight will compromise lower back & the potential to create lower back pain/injury is fairly high. Begin with legs bent & hip angle at 90 degrees. From this point exhale & bring the knees to chest. While doing so focus on engaging core muscles to contract & fold into one another similar to that of an accordian. Contract at the mid point of this movement (when your knees are to your chest) for 1 second then inhale while slowly lowering legs back down to the starting position of 90 degrees again. You should be able to work up to 30 reps to fatigue. Make sure after you do your 30 you stretch your abs out (Stand up reach above your head & lean back slightly). Also, be sure to work your back to compliment your abdominal work to ensure no muscular imbalances occur. Supermans are great for the lower back.

Issue #1:
That pain in the top of your abs is either from lack of hydration (water, water, water, water!) or lack of stretching. I would also watch your form when you run. Are you crouching over/leaning forward when you run? Form will have an influence. Try this: Jog in place in front a mirror. Do your arms swing across your body? They should be flexed 90 degrees the entire time. Roughly your hands should be fluidly moving hitting just below your chin or at chin level and then down just below your chest. It's really weird at first when getting used to re-learning how to run but it's definitely worth it. The easiest way to "trick" your body into running with proper arm form is when you run turn your thumbs out away from your body. It forces your forearms to rotate externally, thus causing your arms not to swing across your body.

Issue #2:
In regards to sweating during 10 milers, I would wonder if your pace changes between those miles. Basically your HR is increased & your body is working during miles 6-8 but then your pace may/may not change but I'm assuming that your HR decreases slightly (body has adjusted to the pace/distance) then if you pick it up after mile 8 your body sweats again because it is "working" again. Also, if your body has cooled (say with the breeze or sweat has dried off) then that may be why. Typically the body's natural AC is sweating. Your body temp increases so your AC turns on (you begin to sweat). So if your body temp levels off at a certain point, the AC turns off. I would recommend throwing in a few days of interval training. You don't necessarily need a track but play with pace & distance.
Ex: Run 1 mile 9:45 pace then for the next mile increase your pace by say 30 seconds from one telephone pole to a second one (9:15 pace). Then after the second telephone pole return to the 9:45 pace until the third telephone pole. Then repeat alternating your pace to challenge your body & HR.
*Note: I wouldn't recommend doing this until you are able to run without that 'stitch' feeling in your stomach though.

Hope this helps!!