Author: Tedd Falk You might think you are doing your body a favor by purchasing low fat or low calorie food items, but what do these labels really mean? Are these items really the best choice for maintaining good health? First off, don’t always assume that “light”, “low fat”, or “reduced fat” means there is going to be no fat in the food you are buying. Each one of these terms has its own definition of what they really mean. “Light” for example means the food must have 50% less fat. Ok well 50% less fat is pretty good right? Maybe, but it probably comes with an addition of sugar or salt. The truth is that fat tastes good. So when you reduce the fat, something like sugar, salt, or artificial sweetners will be added to bring back the lost taste or else nobody will eat the product. Another side effect of reducing the fat is that it makes the food become less satisfying, which may cause you to overindulge. So what’s the alternative? It’s quite simple actually, with no gimmicks involved. Think about sticking to whole foods. A “whole food” is a food in its original state without having been processed and is free from any artificial substances. Sure, these foods contain more calories and fat, so the next step is portion control. Know your body and understand how many calories you need on a weekly basis. Think about planning out your meals so you can hold yourself accountable. And, last but not least, exercise! Our bodies are designed to move! So schedule 20-30 mins out of your day and find something you enjoy doing, whether that be running on the treadmill, riding an exercise bike, or taking a fitness class. You’ll thank yourself afterwards for doing it.
Author: Tedd Falk You and your elliptical are basically best friends. You two spend 3 days of the week together for at least 30 minutes and have done so for the last 3 years. You are really good at working out on your elliptical. Maybe TOO good? Problem is, that grocery bag seemed extremely heavy when carrying it up the stairs, and when you dusted off your bike for a ride over the weekend it felt really hard. It might be time to meet some new friends. Hello Crosstraining! Look, we all want to be really good at things, but sometimes specializing isn’t always the best solution for us. This is especially true in fitness. We are unfortunately creatures of habit that get stuck in the same routines, all while our bodies crave to move in different ways. So, you don’t have to completely break up your relationship with your elliptical, but think about supplementing your elliptical workout with a different form of cardio once and a while. For example, you could make Monday your elliptical day, Wednesday your stationary bike day, and you could even add a strength training day on Friday. If you have a specific goal in mind, find multiple exercises that all work to achieve similar results. By doing this you’ll start to find that your fitness level will become much more rounded and stronger overall. Not only will you become stronger overall, but cross training can also prevent the potential for injury. Runners are always a good example of how our muscles can become imbalanced by specializing. Runners are typically very powerful and have high endurance, but constant running causes their quads to overpower their hamstrings. Let’s also not forget to mention running completely neglects the upper body. Most runners also fit the stereotype of being very inflexible. All of these factors combined make the body more vulnerable to injury, where they could be avoided by mixing up your workouts. Even in sports, coaches are beginning to encourage kids not to specialize in a sport at too young of an age. Many scouts/recruiters are reporting that they are able to pick out young athletes who have specialized due to weaknesses in overall strength and coordination. If for no other reason, cross train to cut out the monotony! Doing the same thing over and over again gets boring! Freshen up your workout and have some fun with fitness!
Author: Tedd Falk Is your regular workout on the treadmill or elliptical getting old? Try pushing that interval training button on the console of your exercise equipment for a new challenge! Interval training is a workout consisting of short, alternating bursts of high intensity activity and light intensity activity. For instance, if you enjoy walking outside, you could begin to jog every 30 seconds. By doing this you will now combine aerobic exercise with anaerobic exercise. What does that mean? Aerobic exercise can vary in intensity based off the individual, but when exercising you are sufficiently generating enough oxygen to meet energy demands and this type of exercise can be performed for longer periods of time. Anaerobic exercise is higher in intensity to the point where lactic acid will begin to form. This type of exercise would more likely be performed by an athlete such as a short distance sprinter. Well I’m no athlete so how will this help me? To start, more intense exercise will in fact burn more calories, and I think we all know why this is important. Your Aerobic capacity will also improve, so that 30 minute workout on the elliptical can turn into 45 minutes. Or, you will be able to perform that 30 min workout at a quicker pace, which again will increase your calorie burn. Lastly, it will keep you from getting stuck in the same old routine. Anyway we can motivate ourselves to get back on our exercise equipment and challenge ourselves to become a healthier person is a good thing. The Octane Fitness 30:30 workout is a great example of an intense interval training workout:
Author: Tedd Falk It’s time to get a piece of in-home fitness equipment and you’ve narrowed it down to an exercise bike. But now you went to the store and you learned that there are 3 different kinds! Here we make the case for all 3 so you can choose the right machine for the right reasons: 1. Recumbent Bike: The La-Z-Boy of exercise equipment. Recumbent bikes have a back rest to lean against for a little bit more comfort and support. This can be a plus for certain medical conditions and for the right person, the added comfort can be a motivational tool as some machines can become uncomfortable which can deter you from using it. Working out is hard enough as it is! Recumbent bikes can also be a bit easier to access as they are lower to the ground and have the option to have what’s called a “walk through” design. Therefore, you won’t have to step up, or step over anything to get on the bike. Recumbent bikes can have simple or more complex workout features, but almost all will have the option to choose a program that will guide you through a workout. It will be up to you to decide whether these programs will help you better achieve your specific goals. 2. Upright bike: As the name suggests, you are seated upright with no back rest when riding this bike. Where the recumbent bike can cause the perception that you are not working as hard because you are leaning back, the upright will not, and this can keep some riders more engaged in their workout. The majority of upright bikes have a large cushioned seat as opposed to what you would find on an outdoor bike, which most people find to be ideal to maximize comfort. This type of bike is best for the rider that likes to stay seated throughout the workout as most of these bikes are not built for standing sprints from a feel or durability standpoint. Like the recumbent style, the upright can come with simple or more complex workout programs that can guide you through a workout. 3. Spin Bike: Spin bikes are for the true bike riders out there and they do a better job of replicating outdoor road biking. If you are the more aggressive racing type rider, this might be the right bike for you. While some seats can be replaced, spin bikes typically come with your standard outdoor bike seat which may not be comfortable enough for some riders. You will also have the ability to ride while standing and this will feel more natural as opposed to if you were to do this on a standard upright bike. While upright and recumbent bikes will include a computer console to guide you through a workout, everything will be up to you on the spin bike. Most spinners only include a resistance knob that you can turn to either increase or decrease resistance and the option to add a computer to track RPMs, calories, distance, time etc. No matter which one you choose, they can all help you achieve your goals! Good luck!
Author: Tedd Falk 1. Motivation! : Usually working out with a partner helps us push a little harder, but having someone who truly wants to help you achieve your goals can be extremely encouraging. It also takes away the ability to make excuses as you’re ultimately paying for the service so you don’t want to be throwing money out of the window. 2. Personalized workout plans and goals: Not everyone knows exactly what they should be doing at the gym or on their piece of in home fitness equipment so a personal trainer can help you come up with a more efficient way to reach your goals. You may also have specific needs as far as past or current injuries or medical conditions and a trainer can help you work around these issues. 3. Nutritional advice: Whether you are looking to lose weight or put on muscle, nutrition is going to be half the battle and a trainer can give you advice on when and what you should be eating. 4. Better utilize your equipment: If you have a home fitness gym or are utilizing a health club, there’s always the possibility that you may not be using all the features your fitness equipment has to offer. Chances are your trainer does and can help you get the most out of your equipment. 5. A helping hand: I’ve always found that stretching can sometimes be best performed by two people. Whether it’s that tight hamstring or back muscle, an extra hand to apply a little bit more pressure or better alignment can make all the difference in increasing your flexibility.
Author: Tedd Falk Did you know that the classic thinking of static stretching before your workout is actually making you weaker? We used to think that if we are warming up for a run on the treadmill we should hold a static hamstring stretch to “loosen up”. This idea is starting to lose traction as studies are showing that a dynamic warm up is the best way to prepare before any intense physical activity. Dynamic movements work to put the muscle and joint through a series of challenging repetitive motions. The goal of these movements is to truly “warm up” the muscles and get them ready to fire for peak performance. Static stretching works the other way in that holding a specific stretch for 30-60 seconds will lengthen and relax the joint and muscle but will not prepare it for physical activity and this can lead to weakness or potential injury. While both are important, dynamic movements should be performed prior to a workout and static stretching should be performed post workout. So what kind of dynamic exercises should you do? Walking Lunges w/ Twist: Take a deep step forward and turn away from the back leg to get a good stretch in the hip then repeat with the other leg. Inchworm: Start in the pushup position and with straight legs slowly step your feet forward until you reach your hands. Then move back into the pushup position and repeat Explosive Skipping: Skip with one leg exploding as high into the air as you can and repeat with the other leg Explosive Push Up: With your hands on the floor or a bench push up as high as you can so that your hands come off the surface and repeat
Author: Tedd Falk Let’s first begin with the fact that all lumbar disc injuries are different and can create many different symptoms. Always consult your physician before you start any rehabilitation. That being said, any careful exercise that can safely be performed will be extremely beneficial to the healing process of that disc. Personally, I was a collegiate hockey player who ended up with two bulged discs and DJD (Degenerative Joint Disease) at the L-4, L-5 and L-5, S-1 sections of the spine. 3 months and 2 epidural shots later, I was lying in bed thinking my life was over. Unbearable sciatic nerve pain, muscle spasms, and the inability to bend over to even brush my teeth, I did not see any light at the end of the tunnel. Luckily, I am back to the point where I can play the sport I love pain free again. Here are a few exercise related tips that I believe can help you too: 1. Move, move, and move some more. Whatever movements, stretches, exercises you can do, do them! Being a couch potato is one of the worst things you can do with a disc injury but it is unfortunately, sometimes the only thing we feel we can do. Our muscles eventually get used to that lack of movement, which will in effect tighten them up and make us less flexible. And tight muscles (hamstrings, quads, back, etc…) mean more pressure on our joints and disc! 2. So what can I start doing? Typically, walking on a treadmill, riding the exercise bike, or maybe even using the standing or seated elliptical is a good place to start. You will probably find one to be more comfortable or enjoyable than the others, but this low impact exercise should not agitate your symptoms any more than they already are. You will probably find that when you are done, the increase in blood flow, and heat in the muscles will decrease your symptoms. The increased blood flow will also hydrate your discs with the necessary nutrients to aid in healing. 3. Now that I am starting to feel a little better, how can I continue to progress? Core strengthening is very important when it comes to the healing process. A strong core will help protect the area around the spine, so when you do bend over to pick up that heavy box on the ground those core muscles will kick in and make sure you don’t get injured again. Grab an exercise ball, medicine ball, or Bosu ball to really work those small stabilizer muscles around the spine. I recommend the static plank as a great core exercise to work on and eventually master. 4. I’ve lost some flexibility since my injury, how can I get it back? A stretching regimen can work and your physician will most likely recommend a plan for you, but one thing I found to be totally lifesaving is YOGA. Yoga is all about the lengthening of your muscles and spine and this will ultimately take pressure off of your back. Yoga can seem a little intimidating at first, but every instructor I have ever met is always willing to help you through a practice if you ask. Just make sure to start slow and avoid any painful forward bending. 5. I sit all day at work and it is the worst! What can I do to make work more tolerable? I recommend sitting on an exercise ball to help keep the core engaged and to work on good posture. Also, I would strongly consider the LifeSpan treadmill desk so you can walk and work at the same time.