Tag Archives: strength training

4 Ways to Steer Clear of Overtraining Syndrome

Overtraining syndrome is easy to catch and hard to shake.  With new year’s resolutions, goals and dreams in full swing this season, it’s especially something to be careful to avoid.  When you’re starting a new routine there are a few things to take seriously so you can avoid being forced to take an unwanted break from working out due to to overtraining syndrome.

Overtraining syndrome occurs when the body is exercised at a frequency and intensity that exceed its recovery time.  How can you tell if you’re over training?  The results of overtraining can include exhaustion, a loss of progress in both strength and cardiovascular fitness and injury.  Feeling sluggish after a workout instead of energized and having disrupted sleep patterns are also symptoms.  If you’ve been overtraining, take enough time off to heal fully even it seems like forever.  Of course, the best way to treat overtraining is to avoid it in the first place.  Here are 4 ways to prevent it from sabotaging your plans for the new year.

1)  Food is fuel.  Make sure your diet isn’t the reason workouts aren’t going well.  Eat enough calories to give you the energy you need to get through the day and replenish post workout.   Stick with quality whole foods and remember that the what you put in is what you get out.overtraining syndrome

2)  Mix it up.  Your body needs constant change to keep adapting, getting stronger and improving.  If you start to lose motivation or get bored, throw something new into your routine.  Try a spin class or kick boxing while alternating hard and easy days to give yourself excitement and variety.

3)  Take recovery and rest days seriously.  Your next workout is only as good as your last recovery.  If you’re not foam rolling or hitting mobility drills each day your body is going to get worn out quickly.  Rest and recovery are just as important as exercise and not giving your body enough time to recover from strenuous exercise will inevitably cause fatigue, moodiness, and injury.  Take at least one day a week away from the gym or running and be serious about it.  Use the rest day(s) to replenish the things your body has burned through, like carbohydrates, proteins, fluids and sleep.

4)  Listen to your body.  Still feeling sluggish four days after a hard workout?  Are your knees or shoulders hurting more than they should?  Is soreness sticking around beyond two days?  Is your performance slipping?  These are all signals your body gives to let you know it needs a break.  An extra day or two or five off won’t ruin the gains you’ve made.  Take the time to recover your body is asking for and you’ll not only feel better, but come back to better results.

Coach Meredith

Pilates for Runners

Pilates is a wonderful addition to any training plan, especially for runners.  It builds strength, stability and power without being high impact and can also increase mental toughness.  A technique based system of moves designed to develop muscle balance, increase muscle control, improve mobility and mind body connection, practice is a must do for faster running.  Here are the biggest benefits you’ll receive when you add pilates to your program.

Create muscle balance.  Pilates focuses on every muscle in the body not just the big ones we use over and over.  Strengthening weaker muscles while maintaining stronger ones means pilatesyou’ll perform everything from daily activities to running a marathon with more ease and less risk of injury.

Lengthen to strengthen.  Pilates encourages muscles to stretch and reach.  Since running doesn’t require most muscles to move through an entire range of motion, pilates will make muscles stronger from end to end.  Strong muscles all the way through makes them able to produce more power with each contraction and that means faster running.

Low impact.  After all those miles on the road, track, trail and treadmill, it’s nice to give your body a break with a workout that keeps you off your feet.  Not only will the variety of a pilates session give your body a new challenge, your bones will appreciate the break.

Better breathing.  Pilates teaches you how to use your diaphragm and use the full capacity of your lungs for each breath.  Deeper breathing keeps your heart rate down, lowers recovery time and keeps muscles going longer.  Less cardiovascular stress when running through fuller, deeper breaths means faster finish times.

Relax.  Deep breathing combined with long, slow, full range of motion movements give you an opportunity to relax.  The concentration required to perform moves correctly also means you’ll have to clear your head of the day’s stress and pay exclusive attention to what your body is doing.

Add pilates to your routine on any day you want a good strength workout, any time you need a good recovery stretch or whenever you want to give yourself a new challenge.  Your posture, breathing, balance and running will all improve.  Click here to find a quality instructor near you!

Coach Meredth

5 Tips for Safe Strength Training

Temperatures are dropping, days are getting shorter and working out in the fresh air is loosing some of its appeal.  When the weather turns, more people turn to the gym to keep their routine going.  Everyone can benefit from lifting weights but increasing the amount of time you spend strength training can also increase your risk of injury.  Here are 4 tips to make sure you’re safe strength trainingpracticing safe strength training to stay injury free all winter long.

Find a coach.  One of the best ways to ensure safe strength training is to use a coach or trainer.  Partnering with a certified professional who will help you learn the proper way to perform movements while pushing you to try new things is the best thing you can do to protect yourself.

Take it slow.  If you choose not to work with a coach, resist the urge to dive in head first.  Take a little bit of time to educate yourself on what each muscle group does and what exercises are the best to work on making it stronger.  Get comfortable with movements before increasing weight, making sure you’re performing each one properly for every repetition.

Take it seriously.  Just because your passion is running and not lifting weights doesn’t mean hitting the gym should be taken lightly.  Warming up and cooling down are important parts of any workout, especially when you’re pushing muscles to do something new or hard.  Safe strength training means showing those days respect and putting in the time to treat your body well.

Mix it up.  A big part of safe strength training is trying new things regularly.  When you give your body a new challenge, it’s forced to constantly respond, burning calories and getting stronger every workout.  Changing up your routine also prevents overuse injuries that come from performing an exercise to excess without a break.

Recover.  Foam roll, stretch and mobilize after each workout.  Safe strength training includes being ready for the next day’s workout.  Listen to your body and take a day off or try something new when you need to.

Use these five tips for safe strength training to keep your gains on track without risk of being derailed by an injury this winter.

Coach Meredith

Everybody Needs a Foam Roller

It’s true.  Every athlete, especially runners, should have at least one foam roller in their workout arsenal.  They might look like misplace pool toys but the ultimate self massage tool is more than just a big foam cylinder.  Here are the basic reasons you’ll want to add one to your workout routine.

First thing first, what exactly does a foam roller get used for?  Foam rolling, of course.  Foam rolling is a form of self massage also know as myofasical release.  The soft tissues that support and protect muscles are called fascia.  During a hard workout these fibers can become inflamed and their ability to function restricted.  That inflammation leads to sticky spots knows as foam rolleradhesions between the muscle fiber and the fascia.  Those adhesions result in decreased blood flow, tight muscles, soreness and pain.  Hitting these inflamed areas with a foam roller, or rolling them, presses on and stretches the fascia, helping to release the adhesions and ease pain.

Using your favorite foam roller after a workout is one of the best ways you can prevent soreness and stiffness while aiding in quicker muscle recovery.  You can also use your it before a workout.  Foam rolling during your warm-up will increase blood flow to muscle groups that are going to work while breaking up any leftover adhesions from the previous day or days.

Not only will 15 minutes with your foam roller get your body back on track for your next workout, it’s one of the best ways to prevent IT Band Syndrome and can improve mobility and lower your risk of injury at the same time.  You can foam roll all of the major muscle groups, being sure to avoid the lower back and any injured areas and hit smaller muscle groups with different tools like Trigger Point Balls and Supernovas.  There are lots of options out there, so play around and find the one that works best for your body and the intensity of your training program.  Any way you decide to hit your hard working muscles, you’ll be saving yourself lost training time and money spent dealing with injuries.

For help getting started with your newest fitness toy, check out our Foam Rolling 101 video and help those tired muscles feel better today!

Coach Meredith

 

Overcoming Bad Workouts

Everybody has bad workouts.  Hopefully they don’t happen often and aren’t so bad they cause an injury.  Either way, they can still put a crinkle in your day.  Having a rough day in the gym or at the track can be the result of lots of factors, some of which you just can’t control.  Maybe you were running late, missed the group class you love and went at it alone.  Maybe you’re injured or feeling sick.  Figuring out what went wrong is the best way to prevent it from happening again.  Make sure you can bounce back from bad workouts quickly with these tips.

Get enough sleep.  Sleep allows your body time to heal from the last gym session or just daily life.  Having a bad night, or a night without enough sleep, can wreak havoc on your body and suck out tons of the energy you plan on using in the gym.  One great thing about sleep is the human body’s ability to catch up on it.  While this shouldn’t be a regular practice, and seven to eight hours a night are recommended for most people, it’s good to know there’s a reason you want, and are allowed, to sleep in on Sunday morning.

Eat right.  Giving your body the right type of fuel for the workout you have planned is just as, if not more, important than getting enough sleep.  Whole grains and less sugar will aid in preventing the exhaustion many people face an hour or two after lunch.  If you’re going to burn a few hundred calories in the gym, make sure you replace those with quality food items.  Stay properly hydrated before, during and after your session and be careful of caffeine, which can wake your body up for a workout or push it over the limit and cause nausea and shakiness.

Have good goals.  Set a good goal (check out our goal setting series on YouTube).  Write it down.  Look at it every single day.  Get together with a fitness professional and discuss both your goal and a path to reach it.  This keeps you focused and on track, prevents boredom, provides a support system in the gym and gives you accountability.  All of those positives can help turn a few bad workouts into a learning experience that stops them from occurring in the future.

Beware of over training.  Bad workouts can be a sign of over training or injury.  Use a variety of equipment and styles so your body doesn’t get overloaded.  Try alternating weight lifting days with cardio days and always leave at least one day per week for complete rest and recovery.  If you start feeling worn down, unusually sore and grouchy or dreading the gym, it might be time for a few extra days off.  Listen to what your body tells you and take what it’s saying seriously.

Throw in the towel.  There are days when you get out of bed and know you don’t have it.  That’s OK.  Avoiding back workouts is a good way to make sure one doesn’t ruin your day.  Taking an extra day off to let your body recover won’t wreck all the work you’ve already done and it pays to listen up when your body says ‘no’.  If you’re already in the thick of things, quit while you’re ahead.  Rack your weights, cool down and evaluate what went wrong.

Coach Meredith

5 Tips to Rock Your Fall Fitness Goal

Fall is a great time to aim for a new fitness goal.  Whether it’s a half marathon PR, a new one rep max deadlift, shedding those last few unwanted pounds or making it through an entire yoga class without losing your balance once, fall is the perfect time to work for it.  Schedules are settling down after busy, fun and hot summers, the weather is a little bit more workout friendly and you can find an event any weekend you choose.

Once you’ve picked out your new fitness goal working towards it can seem daunting.  Here are 5 tips, the S.M.A.R.T method, to guide you to success on your fall fitness goal journey.

Have a specific goal.  A desire to ‘get faster’ or ‘lose weight’ is vague.  How much faster?  How much weight?  It’s important to develop a road map for dropping those unwanted pounds or reaching your new PR.  Work towards your fall fitness goal by working on a specific thing such as losing 5 pounds, running a distance of 5 miles or a certain time in which you’ll finish your next 5, 8 or 10k.  Picking a numeric weight, distance or time goal will help you focus.

Make sure your goal is measureable.  Setting a specific goal, keeping a journal, potentially getting a coach and using a scale or stop watch to measure progress will help keep your morale up as you reach each mini fitness goal you set.

Achievable goals are a must.  A new weightlifter might have a deadlift goal of 450 pounds, which is both specific and measureable, but is also unattainable in the short term.  Setting challenging but not impossible goals like increasing weight lifting maximums by five pounds at a time or losing two pounds per week make progress easy and keeps motivation high.fitness goal

Be results based.  Hitting each step on your way to a bigger fitness goal is important.  If you aren’t reaching small short term goals, it might be time to rethink your training method or the bigger goal you set.  Being aware of your results helps direct future training and will make working towards any fitness goal easier.

Time oriented.  Have a desired amount of time or end date for reaching your fitness goal.  Pick your next 5k as the deadline for increasing per mile race pace.  Decide to lose two pounds per week for the six weeks leading up to your family vacation, then write each weigh in on a calendar.

Most importantly make sure you find an activity you enjoy.  Going out for training sessions will be more fun, especially if you have a training buddy.  Be sure to allow for life’s ups and downs as you use these five tips to steadily and safely work towards your fall fitness goal.

Coach Meredith

Mobility and Flexibility: What’s the Difference

Many athletes confuse the terms mobility and flexibility by believing they’re interchangeable.  They aren’t.  Mobility is not flexibility.  Flexibility is a building block for good mobility but not its only element.  It’s possible to have very flexible hamstrings or quadriceps but lack quality hip mobility.  How?  Flexibility refers to structures in the body that have tension on them (think muscles, tendons and ligaments).  Mobility references the ability of a joint to move through a range of motion properly.

Knowing the difference between these two often confused words is a must for anyone who wants to improve performance and recover from each day’s workout.  Why?  Because if your muscles are filled with adhesions and your joints are impinged (lacking the ability to bend properly), you’ll be putting yourself at risk for injury while also compromising some or all of your efficiency and power.

One of the biggest keys to earning and maintaining proper mobility is to work on it every day.  Many of us sit at desks, in chairs, for extended periods of time.  In addition to unengaged hamstrings and all of the issues associated with poor posture, all this sitting is extra hard on muscles that just completed a morning or lunch hour workout.  By being steadfast in working mobilityon your body for 5-10 minutes two or three times during the work day you’ll help prevent injury and speed healing.  If you wait until you’re suffering with a hot spot, shin splint or pulled muscle, you’ll have a much harder time getting back to the gym than if you had never encountered these problems to begin with.

Want to improve your ability to move safely and fully through the range of motion your fitness routine requires?  Start today!  Check out mobility guru Kelly Starrett’s MobilityWOD site here and pick up some mobility tools.  Great options for improving your mobility include lacrosse balls, stretching bands and foam rollers.  With each of these in your arsenal you can work to alleviate hot spots, keep muscles sliding smoothly over each other and, after putting in some solid effort, you’ll quickly see the difference it can make on the track, field or court.

Coach Meredith

Recovery 101: Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is a must do each and every day for any athlete who’s looking to recover from a workout as quickly, efficiently and fully as possible.  In addition to the compression socks covered in the previous Recovery 101 post, foam rolling can help your body bounce back from a foam rollingtough session in many ways.

Foam rolling is a type of self myofascial release or self massage.  It works by breaking up adhesions created in the muscles during periods of hard work.  These adhesions form between muscle fibers to cause stiffness and soreness while simultaneously preventing blood, oxygen and other important nutrients from reaching the very muscles they’re needed to help repair.  Think of them like the hooks on Velcro.  When they’re smushed together nothing can move very easily.  Break them apart and everything slides around much better.

Foam rolling before a workout will help get tissues loose, improve circulation and get muscles ready to work by increasing the range of motion around a joint.  With the ability to foam roll any muscle group from your feet to your shoulders, it’s a warm-up that works for every workout you ever do.  After a workout, foam rolling can help prevent soreness and stiffness by limiting foam rollingthe formation of adhesions.  Muscle that’s repairing itself starts right away and working over it with a roller can help that new muscle lay down the right way.

No matter when you’re rocking out with the foam roller, make sure you keep it slow and work the entire length of the tissue group.  Start with a soft roller and as you get used to the activity, step up to firmer and differently shaped rollers.  One with grooves or bumps will reach deeper into muscles while ball sized rollers can fit into small pockets at the feet, hips and shoulders.

Check out this video to learn a few valuable foam rolling techniques and be sure to include them after each and every workout.

Coach Meredith

Strength Training As A Runner

Strength training as a runner is a hotly debated topic.  How much to do, when to do it, what kind to do?  No matter what your answer is, at the most basic level, strength training as a runner makes sense.  The more powerful your legs are, the more force they can put into the ground with each step.  This means you’ll be able to propel further forward at a faster rate without any increased effort.  The stronger your core is the better your running form will be.  If you’re not including muscle building activities in your training plan, you’ll miss out on all the bone density increasing, injury preventing, faster running and better form benefits it provides.

If strength training as a runner has so many benefits, what’s the problem?  Most runners aren’t sure how to add these types of workouts to already packed training schedules and end up leaving it out altogether.  This can lead to unwanted muscle imbalances, injuries and plateaus in race times.  Luckily, there are lots of ways to add strength training to your routine that won’t cramp your program and the best news is there aren’t any hard and fast rules for strength training as a runner (other than you have to do it!).  strength training as a runner

Want to try running in deep sand?  Requiring 60% more effort than running on pavement, that slippery sand works your calves, feet and ankles overtime as they try to stay stable on a moving surface.

How about Crossfit?  High intensity strength building workouts can replace easy ‘junk’ miles with lots benefits.  Increased bone density, mobility and balance will all make your more durable and prevent common overuse injuries.

Plyometrics and other body weight exercises are fantastic ways to build a better runner.  Burpees, box jumps, push-ups, pull-ups and jump rope require little space and a small strength training as a runnerinvestment in equipment.  Running hills counts, too, especially if you don’t have the beach to run on.

Mobility work and yoga is must for any runner, even if it’s just a foam roller followed by a few sequences at home.  Aiding in recovery, stretching and massaging will help muscles recover from workouts as well as eliminate imbalances that can lead to injury or poor form.

Get stronger and lower race times by using these tips for strength training as a runner to start today!

Coach Meredith

June Push-Up Challenge – 30 Days

Welcome to June and the 30 Day Push-Up Challenge!

This month Team FitNice is taking on a Challenge.  We’ll complete a designated number of push-ups each day in the month of June to get stronger this summer.

Join in on the fun by taking these simple steps:

1.  Like FitNicePT on Facebook

2.  Visit each day for your daily dose of push-ups

3.  Share pictures, comments and brags about your progress.

The challenge will introduce you to not only standard push-ups but two other varieties.  Plank push-ups and T push-ups are included to help build a strong foundation for your fitness goals.  Including push-ups in your workout routine will help build midline, core, shoulder, chest and triceps strength and stability.  This can help improve your golf swing, your running posture, your strength training power and make every day activities easier to accomplish.

A stronger, more stable upper body is an asset to any athlete and June’s 30 Day Push-Up Challenge is a great way to start building one.

If you want to get a sneak peak, check out these push-up videos on our YouTube Channel!

Push-Ups

T Push-Ups

Plank Push-Ups

push-up challenge

I can’t wait to see how far you get over the course of our 30 Day Push-Up Challenge!

Coach Meredith