30-Second Plank Rule

When it comes core/abdominal training, the plank is usually the go to choice for gym-goers and trainers. However, it is one of the most poorly performed exercises and most people don’t realize they are doing it incorrectly. However, There is a lot of really great ways to do planks and great ways to program them into your workouts.

The key to progressing your plank (and increasing your core/low back strength) is not to always to increase the time of your plank, but to increase the level of difficultly of your plank variation. Hence the 30-second plank rule! If you can hold a proper plank for 30-seconds (key work being proper), then it’s time to move on to more challenging variations.

How Ultra-Processed is Your Diet?

Every once in awhile, I’ll read a new nutrition study and think to myself, “Yea...no duh.” While this most recent study falls into that category, it serves as a great reminder that our nutritional choices do, in fact, become our biology. With increasingly evolving food technology, food choices and food categories have expanded, making it harder to make good choices. Not only do we have processed and unprocessed foods, but we now have the emergence of an entirely new category of “ultra-processed” foods.

365 Days Of Dining Out

Meet Mark! Mark is the owner and CEO of Nutrabio Labs, which is a supplement manufacturer of everything from protein powder to vitamins and minerals, and a plethora of other products for people who lead a healthy and active lifestyle. Being a good friend of The Body Shop Studio, Mark and I have shared plenty of meals dining out together. A few months ago Mark told me that he has eaten every single meal out at a restaurant for the last 365 days. No meals prepared at home. Moral of the story is that he still manages to look like this...

5 Ways To Train Better for Back Health

When it comes to factors that can limit your fitness routine, chronic back pain is high on the list for many. First and foremost, we highly recommend a doctor’s visit to address your back pain and immediately ditching the training motto, “no pain, no gain.” Trying to work through back pain without figuring out what the cause is and how to properly address it, can end in huge setbacks.

However, how and what you are doing in the gym can either be helping or hurting your cause. After years of working with clients during and after physical therapy or chiropractic treatments, we’ve learned that chronic back pain can be linked to any combination of the following: weak core, inactive glutes, anterior pelvic tilting and tight hip flexors. While all parts of the body work together, or synergisticly, let’s look at three important players:

Exercise Order: Are You Doing It Right?

When it comes to organizing your workout, there is a method to the madness. Here are some basic principles:

1. Always Start with a Warm Up

Jumping into your workout right from the car is never a good idea. The goal of your warm-up is just what it sounds like, to warm up the muscle. Increasing the temperature of your tissue allows you to increase your range of motion and prevent injury. Your warm up should fit your workout. For example, if you are training legs, your warm-up

10 New Year's Resolutions Worth Making

It would be wrong of us to completely ignore the marriage between fitness and New Year’s Resolutions by not mentioning the topic in a Facebook post, blog or instagram story. So here it is...our obligatory New Year’s Resolution post!

Years ago we would have written about ways to build “S.M.A.R.T” fitness goals, ways to smash your weight loss goals, or strategies on how to adhere to them. However, this year we sat down at our usual Sunday family dinner and came up with a list of our top 10 New Year’s Resolutions that have actually nothing to do with fitness or nutrition.

The Key To Longevity

The key is not just to live longer, the key is to live longer, while maintaining your quality of life. The more and more research that is done, the more clear it becomes that the key to successful longevity is movement. Movement is the key to maintaining activities that you love and our ability to care for yourself. Our bodies are not meant for stagnation. Think about what we were naturally designed to do (hunt, gather) and then think about what we actually do on a day-to-day basis (not so much).

Most people have jobs that require long bouts of sitting in between long hours of commuting. Our bodies being as wonderful as they are, are great at adapting to our circumstances. A body that is sitting all day will (unfortunately) adapt to sitting all day. Yes, you will become a better sitter and in becoming a better sitter, you will become worse at moving.

Three Hour Transformation

Although this is not your typical gym before and after photo, it serves as a huge reminder for us about the importance of maintaining adequate hydration. The first photo is our studio plant after three days of no water (oops!) and the second is the transformation it made in just three hours after watering! The truth is that an estimated 75% of us are walking around in a constant state of dehydration. So, let’s face it, we all can relate to this plant at some point during the year. While proper fitness and nutrition can seem overly complicated, you can improve your wellness with something so simple as being conscious of your water intake.

Consider this a gentle nudge to fill up your water bottle today and continue to fill it through out the day.

The Most “Functional” Muscle Group You’re Not Training

When it comes to functionality, there is arguably no muscle group more important than your grip. The  word “functional” is often overused in fitness, but in this case it is necessary. If your grip is weak, you’ll need help doing everyday tasks like opening a jar or carrying groceries to and from the car. It is the first thing people notice getting weaker as they age as well as the first thing to give out on most exercises where it is involved. We take grip strength very seriously and so should you! Here’s why…

Stop Cheating Yourself. Squat Deeper.

What constitutes as proper squat depth is highly debated and most often opinions depend on your lifting background (crossfit, powerlifting, bodybuidling etc.). However, for many of us who are not lifting competitively or keeping score, what matters most should be squatting safely, effectively and getting the most out of the exercise.

The benefits of a squatting to parallel or close to it is that it will help you

5 Steps to Boost Consistency

5 Steps to Boost Consistency


In my experience, there seems to be one behavior characteristic that our most successful clients have in common. It’s one that is not talked about enough, probably because it can’t be marketed and sold. However, if you can nail this one down, you can almost bet on success. The behavior is the ability to remain consistent.


Consistency is defined as a “steadfast adherence to the same principles; persistency.” When it comes to diet and nutrition, there are going to be days when you don’t really feel like making healthy food choices and other days where you feel empowered to do so. When it comes to your workouts, there will be days where you would do anything to avoid going to the gym and and others where you feel so good in the gym that you could take over the world. Hopefully, more of the latter. Regardless, there are always obstacles in your way but I’ve found that staying consistent will help keep the train on its tracks, which is the ultimate goal.

Is the weight room safe for kids?

The short answer is “Yes!” It is both safe and effective for kids (we are referring to adolescence as young as 7) to embark on a strength training program.

Although some people may have a preconceived idea that strength training is unsafe for children, when reviewing current research there is a relatively low risk of injury in children and adolescents who follow age-appropriate resistance training guidelines, which include supervision and instruction.

Which exercise movement is better...?

“Which exercise is better?” is one of the most common questions I am asked as a coach/trainer. People want to know if a dumbbell bench press is better than barbell bench press? Is the back squat better than the front squat? Want to know the answer to all of those questions? You ready?

3 ways to improve your success in the gym in the new year...

Now these may or may not apply to everyone but if you are new to the gym or never really had much success there, here are 3 Ways to be more successful in the new year. 

1. Don't over commit. As the old saying goes, "Rome wasn't built in a day." This could not be more true when it comes to hitting your fitness goals. You are much better off starting moderately with 3 to 4 days in the gym as opposed to over-committing to 6 to 7 days. Overdoing it in your first two weeks can make you feel burnt out or discouraged if you can not keep up the aggressive schedule. Plan your workout schedule at the beginning of the week and choose the days you will work out and stick to them. I find people tend to be more successful if they actually schedule their workouts into their days as opposed to just trying to wing it. Start with 3 to 4 days and schedule them out as appointments with yourself.

Get Pull-Up Strong Part 2

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If you're still not convinced that you should be doing some sort of pull-up variation in your program, consider it as one of those biggest-bang-for-your-buck exercises. They essentially work everything above the belt, including:

  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Shoulder - Teres Major, Infraspinatus and Teres Minor
  • Long Head of the Triceps
  • Biceps
  • Forearm/ grip strength
  • Core (External Obliques)

Let's talk about grip...

Although people usually refer to everything as a "pull-up," there is a different between a “pull-up” and a “chin-up” and that is the type of grip you take on the bar. Chin-ups (palms facing you variety), has been shown to work the biceps and the chest muscles a little bit more than the other hand positions. The wide grip pull-up activates your lats and your lower traps a little bit more. Chin-ups are known to be a little bit "easier" and would therefore be a great option for beginners.  Honestly, unless you are training for something specific, it doesn’t matter. You will be getting strong regardless of which grip you are working with.

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Here are two challenging progressions from those posted in Get Pull-Up Strong Part 1:

1) Band-Assisted Pull-up

This variation is great for teaching core engagement involved in stabilizing yourself during a pull-up; the more your core is engaged the less your body will swing when loaded in the band.

**The thicker the band = the more of your body weight that is supported = the easier the movement

PROGRESSION -- Add reps every week and eventually use a thinner band.

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How to:

  • Loop band around pull-up bar (long “monster band” – band thickness can vary from 2 inch to ¼ inch)
  • Use box or step to help loop foot in band
  • Begin pull-ups –slow and controlled – engage core to limit swing
  • Be careful on dismount, stepping out of the band one foot at a time back on the box.

2) Negative (Eccentric) Pull-Ups

This is probably one of the BEST and most challenging ways to get closer to doing a real pull-up because it is the most similar variation.

At the end of the day, the best way to get better at pull-ups is to strengthen the muscles involved in the movement by doing pull-up-like-movements multiple times a week. Smart and consistent training is key.

 

 

 

 

 

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Get Pull-Up Strong Part 1

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Maybe you read this title and thought…no way, not me. I’ll never be able to do pull-ups.  

The truth is, both men and women struggle with pull-ups…so regardless of your gender, keep reading. We are going to cover a variety of different pull-up regressions, (slightly easier modifications), like training wheels, that will help get you to the promise land – even if you cannot do a pull-up YET.

What makes pull-ups both a wonderful and a challenging exercise is that your success relies on a lot of different muscles to be strong enough to support your own body weight—a true measure of your health and fitness level.  In other words, to be successful at pull-ups, you typically need to have a healthy body weight.

There are two common issues that prevent people from excelling at pull-ups:

1.     An imbalance when it comes to the strength of their push muscles (chest) compared to the strength of their pull muscles (back) -- push muscles tend to get more attention and become stronger than our pull muscles. This can create unhealthy posture and poor shoulder health.

2.     Tendency to avoid pull-ups or pull-up related exercises because we write them off as being too hard for us and...we would all rather do exercises we are good at.

Let’s get working on our weaknesses. Strengthening your Pull-up muscles will do a couple things for you:

·      Increase healthy posture (by strengthening upper back)

·      Increase your grip strength

·      Improve functional strength (activities of daily life)

·      Create attractive upper body muscles

·      Improve trunk/ core stability

·      Make your squat and your deadlift stronger

·      Make you feel like a total bad ass

Remember Rome was not built in a day, so depending on your starting point you may take longer to progress to the more challenging variations. Enjoy the process of feeling and watching your upper body muscle grow and increase in strength.

Here are two great exercises to start with...

1) Horizontal TRX Rows

TRX Straps are great for teaching the basics of the pull-up because this position trains a very similar pattern to the pull-up from starting point to lock out.

 Here are some cues to make sure your rows are perfect:

  • “Shoulders back and down” – we do not want them creeping up toward your ears.
  • “Maintain a plank position” – we want to maintain a neutral spine and not lead with the hips or let the butt sag.

The PROGRESSION  = Walk feet toward where the TRX is anchored, creating more inversion.

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2) Static Holds (Chin Above The Bar)

These really help build the foundational strength for a pull-up. The isometric (static) hold helps you discover which muscles you should be using every time you do a pull-up—your upper back, core, biceps should be LIT UP.

How to:

  • Get your chin above the bar—bar across your chest
  • Actively retract your shoulders—squeezing them hard back and down

Start with 5 seconds and see how you do—find a length of time that you can do for 3 sets without totally losing your form. Every week add 1 or 2 seconds each set. Work up to a 20 to 30 second hold.

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Stay tuned for Part 2 of Get Pull-Up Strong!