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!

Preventing a Vitamin L Deficiency

Have you ever heard of Vitamin L?

Vitamin L is the best-kept secret. It is not something you want to leave out of your diet. It is a necessary vitamin, and if you have a deficiency in it, you may be missing out on a higher well-being, satisfaction, and happiness level.

What is Vitamin L and where can I get it?

Vitamin L is short for Vitamin Love and refers to not only what you choose to eat but with what kind of loving practices and environment you choose to eat it in.

The Scoop on Cheat Meals...

Before we discuss what a cheat meal is, let’s clarify what it is not…

Cheat meals are not cheat days or entire weekends of diet debauchery. They are not an all-out eat-till-you-can’t-move, want-to-puke-fest. And if you’re not cutting calories and increasing your training, and have cheat meals multiple times a week, it’s not a cheat meal—you probably just have a crappy diet. Cheat meals require planning and self-control. A really big component is the planning part. When done right, ordering a really enjoyable meal that is off of your “typical” meal plan can not only feel totally guilt-free but also make you more successful in accomplishing your fat loss goal.

“Cheat meal” implies that you are cheating on your diet, which is actually not the case. A “cheat meal” is a planned, built-in component. You are not cheating on anything. For this reason, you may seem it also referred to as a “refeed meal,” which is definitely more appropriate.

4 Quick and Sweaty interval training circuits

Body Weight Tabata Circuit (~20 Minutes)

Tabata is a very specific interval style workout. One circuit lasts only 4 minutes—but boy is it a long 4 minutes! You’ll feel both your muscles and your lungs burning. A tabata circuit involves a 20-second hard work period followed by a 10-second rest period. This is then repeated for 8 rounds, for a total of 4 minutes.

I highly recommend downloaded a free tabata timer on your phone. There are quite a few available in the app store. This allows you to focus on the exercise at hand, rather than the timer. For a challenging workout, try these 4 body weight exercises and complete a tabata round of each exercise. Complete all 4 minutes of one exercise before moving on to the next exercise. 

Five Machines Worth Using!

Five Machines Worth Using!

A great way to assess trends in the fitness industry is to look at how gym layouts are changing and what types of equipment are taking up the budget.

Today, free space in gyms is a hot commodity and box-style, open-warehouse gyms are all the rage. Facilities boast about having green turf, and functional training, kettlebells, medicine balls, Crossfit, and even powerlifting are some of the hottest buzzwords in fitness right now.

Weighted exercise machines (those that are plate-loaded or have a weight stack and pin) have somewhat taken a back seat, and may even be looked down upon, by the more functional folk.

Top Five Ways to Support Your Spouse’s Weight Loss Goals

An estimated 45 million Americans are on a diet each year. Chances are, your spouse is one of them. Recently, my wife decided that she wanted to lose 20lbs. Although I think she is perfect, I know that losing weight will make her feel more confident and comfortable in her own skin.

So, I sat down and seriously asked myself… Am I hurting or helping the cause?

In my opinion, if you’re not onboard, you’re part of the problem.

The fact is that having a positive support system at home has been proven to help with achieving and maintaining healthy behaviors. So, why not support your spouse in being the best version of themselves? After being married for only 18 months, I can testify that a happy wife is most definitely a happy life.

Top 5 Ways to Eliminate Evening Snacking

When it comes to weight loss, an Achilles heel for many is evening snacking. To clarify, we are not talking about having a late dinner. Regardless of the time, if you are due for a meal, you should eat. What we are addressing here is reaching for the pretzels, chips and ice cream, post-dinner.

Eliminating this habit can and will do great things for your waistline.

Four Simple Tips for Weight Loss

By Mike Occhipinti

 

One of the most frequently asked questions are “what do you eat” or “what should I eat if I want to lose some weight?” If you are one of those people who find yourself asking or wondering these questions, you might find this article as a good stepping stone to get you on your way. Now let me state I am not a nutritionist or dietician, but I can share with you some tools I have seen personally work for me and my clients. Lets talk about four simple ways to get the ball rolling.