Monthly Archives: August 2013

Common Workout Mistakes

To get the best possible results in the gym, you need to get the best possible workout every time you try.  Of course you’ll have good days and bad days, but there are lots of ways to make sure you give yourself the best opportunity to succeed.  Even if you work with a trainer or take group exercises classes, there are times when you’re sure to be on your own.  Avoiding these common workout pitfalls will help you reach your goals without injury.

Not resting.  Your body needs time to recover from all the extra work you’re asking it to do.  Give it what it needs.  Taking at least one day off each week will allow your muscles and bones to recover from the strain you’ve recently exerted on them.

Wearing weights.  Not the heavy kind you lift, but the ones you strap to your body.  Ankle weights, wrist weights and weight vests can inhibit natural movement and prevent you from getting all the benefits of an exercise.  They can also change the way your skeletal system works and put excess stress on sensitive areas like joint, tendons and ligaments.  Weight vests are great if you’re preparing for deployment, otherwise, you probably shouldn’t wear one.

Not warming up.  Warming up is incredibly important.  It preps your muscles and heart to do harder work and will help prevent injuries.  Loosening up muscles and increasing blood flow helps joints move properly, and a good warm up also means a better workout overall because your body will be ready for the overload.

Exercise at an inappropriate level.  Too easy and you won’t do any good.  Too hard and you’ll get injured or be too sore to go back anytime soon.  Find your target zone by wearing a heart rate monitor and use perceived rate of exertion (RPE) to determine how hard you’re working, never rely on what a machine tells you.

Always doing the same thing.  If you do the same exact things each time you hit the gym, your body will stop responding to the stimulus.  By giving your muscles something new to do all the time, you continually challenge your muscles to work in new ways.  A wide variety of exercises leads to well-rounded and powerful muscles that can work strongly through a full range of motion.

Follow these tips to make sure you get the most out of your trips to the gym.  Want help planning your workouts or deciding how to warm up?  Ask us!  Email Info@FitNicePT.com for answers today!

Gotta Have Breakfast

Everyone has heard the rumor that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Well, it’s true.  Not only are breakfast foods delicious, making the right breakfast choices can get your day going with a healthy and happy start, but the benefits don’t end there.  Eating within half an hour of waking up can increase resting metabolic rate, improve short-term memory and help control weight.

Skipping breakfast means your body hasn’t been fed in up to 15 hours and isn’t producing the enzymes needed to metabolize fat.  If you wait for lunchtime to eat, your body doesn’t start working, and burning calories, until you’re five hours into your day.  By eating breakfast you give your system something to work on all morning, causing it to produce those enzymes and use more energy from stored fat.  In fact, eating a healthy breakfast has been shown to increase resting metabolism by up to 10% for the remainder of your day.

Breakfast will also give you a burst of energy, increasing your ability to concentrate and your strength.  Numerous studies of kids who eat breakfast have shown that they perform better in school than those who don’t eat a morning meal, and a study of teens in the Journal of Adolescent Health found high-energy foods for breakfast improved short-term memory, proving that kids need healthy morning foods just as much as adults.

Missing breakfast doesn’t slow down your metabolism, but does delay turning it on.  The biggest issue with people who skip breakfast, and tend to weigh more than those who don’t, is that missing breakfast often leads to overeating later in the day.  Overcompensating for a missed meal by grabbing whatever is handy can lead to high calorie food intake, overeating and bad choices.  Another downside to this kind of eating is that lots of easy to eat foods contain fast burning refined carbs and sugars, the reason for those tired feelings after lunch.

The most important part of your morning meal is its content.  Doughnuts, sugary cereals or highly processed toaster snacks will negate most of breakfast’s benefits.  Be sure to pick healthy foods like whole grain cereal and bread products, eggs without yolks, fresh fruits, low-fat yogurt and other lean proteins.  High energy foods, like bagels, have lots of calories and they add up quickly.  Fiber rich foods like oatmeal, berries and walnuts allow you to eat more without all the calories.

For help planning your breakfast menu or to schedule your Kitchen Makeover, email Info@FitNicePT.com today.

Start Running! Here’s How.

Want to start running?  Starting something new can be very intimidating and running is often tops on the list.  Even those who have taken a hiatus due to injury or burn out can have trouble getting started again.  With the potential for injury, getting a physician’s clearance before beginning a run/walk or running program is incredibly important.  After being cleared, here are some tips for getting your running program started.

Support.  Make sure you have the right shoes and use a specialized running store to find them.  Properly fitting and supportive shoes will prevent injury and help keep you pain free.  For women, a properly fitting and appropriately supportive sports bra is just as important as good shoes.  Don’t be afraid to try a few different options to find the one you like best.

Before and After.  Warming up is a key element to getting in a good workout, so spending five to ten minutes raising your heart rate and getting muscles ready to work will help reduce your risk of injury and aid you in achieving better results.  Just as warming up is important, cooling down after your session with five to ten minutes of stretching will ease post run soreness and tightness.

Comfort.  One element of having a successful start is staying in your comfort zone.  Don’t push yourself too hard, too fast or you risk burning out, being injured or not enjoying your new activity.  Stressing out about how fast you run when you are a beginner will have the same effect.  Concentrate on building endurance, and being proud of yourself for starting a new activity, before being concerned with how fast you run each mile.

Find a buddy to run with.  You don’t need to run with a friend every time you head out, but once a week running with a friend can be a great motivator.  There are lots of programs available on the internet you and a friend can work on together.  It’s always a great idea to find a coach or join a group of other beginner runners in your area, which is a great way to find the perfect running buddy.

Race.  You don’t have to be ready to race, but getting out and experiencing one is a great way to set goals and stay motivated.   The race shouldn’t be about winning your age group, or even running the entire way, it’s about being in an electric atmosphere where a bunch of strangers cheer for you.

Check out FitNicePT’s newest program, VB Mother Runners, and learn how we can help you get started today!  Not a mom?  Ask us about our other training options!

Strong Hips for Runners

Hip strength is a key element of any activity, and is an especially important part of running, strength training and playing golf.  Tight hip flexors and weak stabilizing muscles, like your glutes, can lead to runner’s knee, Illiotibal band syndrome (ITBS) and lower back issues.  Improving strength and mobility will save you from injury and prevent being forced to take time off.  Here are some exercises and stretches that will help prevent injury by strengthening and loosening your hard working hips.  Here are strength exercises and stretches that will get ready to go.

Side Step:  Wrap a resistance band flat around both ankles just above the ankle bone.  With your feet shoulder-width apart, drop into a squatting position.  Staying in the squat position, take 10 lateral (sideways) steps, being sure to keep hips level and go in both directions.  Do three or four sets to help strengthen hip abductors.

Clamshell:  Lie on your side with legs, ankles and knees together.  Bend your knees slightly and rest your head on an outstretched arm.  Keeping your feet together, slowly open and close your knees like a clamshell.  You can add a resistance band wrapped flat around your mid thighs to increase difficulty and do three to four sets of 10 reps on each side to strengthen your gluteus medius.

Foam Rolling:  Foam rolling has been featured in FitNicePT’s blog before (Basics of Foam Rolling) and is a great way to keep your hips loose.  To target hips with the roller, massage your quadriceps and adductors by lying perpendicular to the roller and rolling from the top of the knee to the just below your hip.  Be sure to get your IT band while you’re there by lying on your side, crossing your top leg over your bottom leg, placing your foot flat on the floor and rolling from just below the hip to right above the knee.

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch:  Kneel on your right knee with your right shin and foot against a bench, box or wall.  Keep your left knee in line with your left foot as you bring it out onto the floor in front if you.  Raise your shoulders then activate your glutes and core as you push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in your right quadriceps.  Hold for at least 30 seconds on both sides.

Have questions about making your hips stronger or stretching them out?  Ask us!  Email Info@FitNicePT.com today.