Tag Archives: strength training

Strong Feet are Stable Feet

Your feet do lots of work every time you take a step.  Strong feet provide a strong base for every landing and takeoff your leg will need when you walk, jog, run, sprint or skip.  The 33 joints, more than 100 ligaments and 26 bones in each foot help you balance, engage your core and maintain strong feetproper posture.  But strong feet aren’t everything.  They’re not much good if the ankles they’re attached to aren’t strong, too.  Increasing the strength and stability in your feet and ankles will make you a better athlete regardless of your chose sport.  Here are three ways you can start working towards strong feet and ankles today.

Take your shoes off and practice standing on one foot.  Work until you can get to at least a minute without a wobble then try it with your eyes closed.  Practice keeping your big toe flat and foot long to exercise the foot’s muscles.  This will help develop balance and the strength of the tendons and ligaments that support your ankle as well.  You might be surprised how hard this is on your first try but it can quickly improve with a little work.

Spend as much time as possible barefoot and in flat shoes.  This will not only help you earn strong feet but improve balance and running efficiency.  Wearing a thick sole between the foot and the strong feetground prevents you from feeling what’s going on beneath your step.  This ends up making us all very visually dominant for feedback on what’s happening on the ground and that is a very slow process.  By not wearing shoes to earn strong feet you can increase your foot’s ability to respond to the ground it touches, even with a shoe on, making balance better and helping protect you from potential injuries.

Strong feet need to be taken care of, too.  Rolling the muscles of your feet on a golf ball, lacrosse ball, Trigger Point set or softball can keep them soft, flexible and relaxed.  After a hard foot workout of barefoot jump roping, sand running or balance work, massage allows blood and oxygen to start helping muscles get stronger by healing.  Remember that each step you take starts at your foot and rolls up through the rest of your body.  Taking good care of your feet can help keep all of your other muscles happy, too.

Start trying to stand on one foot while you brush your teeth and the other while you brush your hair, work on not wearing shoes at home and give them a little extra care each night to have strong feet that can carry you anywhere.

Coach Meredith

4 Must Do Strength Moves for Runners

As most experienced runners know, there’s more to running than just running.  Strength training plays a big role in injury prevention and performance.  Strong muscles support the body better, protecting it from getting hurt, burn more calories than fat and make you more powerful with each stride.  Here are four strength moves for runners that will help improve form, increase endurance and hit that next PR sooner.

Push-ups:  Push-ups can tell you lots about the way you run.  A push-up with a weak core, sagging hips and an arched lower back makes us unstable and will transfer over into overextended running.  Performing a proper elbow in, vertical forearm push-up means better shoulder stability and a larger range of motion.  These two things combine to give you an improved arm swing with good elbow drive in a north-south direction.  An elbow out, angled forearm push-up creates an strength moves for runnersinternally rotated shoulder position and an inefficient running arm swing.

Planks:  A plank is little more than a stationary push-up and has many of the same benefits.  Planks will help you strengthen your core, improve posture and build endurance.  There are a wide variety of planks, each making your shoulders, wrists, trunk more stable while helping you relax and take a deep breath (or five).  For more reasons to plank every day, check out this post and these videos.

Bodyweight Squats:  One of the best strength moves for runners, squats strengthen running specific muscles and increase the range of motion around the hip joint.  More power through a bigger range of motion not only means better running, it means safer running.  Stronger quads, glutes and hamstrings, which stabilize the knee and hip, will reduce your risk srength moves for runnersof injury.  Be sure to push the hips back until your knees is at a 90 degree angle and drive the knees out to get the most benefit from every squat you complete.

Single Leg Deadlifts:  This strength move is perfect for preventing hamstring injuries, strengthening the hips, improving balance and building muscle in the glutes.  Hold a free weight in front of your body while slightly bending one knee then hinge at the waist and lift the opposite leg behind you until the weight reaches the middle of your shin.  Be sure to keep your back flat, engage your core and not let your shoulder get round as you return to the standing position.

Use these strength moves for runners and you’re sure to see the benefit.

Have questions?  Ask us!  Email Info@FitNicePT.com or fill out the form below.

5 Tips for Faster Recovery

Recovery is an important part of working out.  If you aren’t recovering from today’s workout, how are you going to be ready to perform tomorrow?  The right answer is you won’t be.  Your body needs certain things pre-, post and hours after a good sweat session to get back in working order.  Here are five tips from Team FitNice that will help you feel great after today’s workout and fresh for tomorrow’s.

Eat right away.  Workouts burn through energy reserves and if you want your body to build those stores back up, you have to feed it.  Proper refueling will help your tissues recoveryrepair, muscles get stronger and be ready for the next day.  Post workout fueling should include complex carbohydrates and quality protein and occur within 30 minutes of a session.

Drink up.  Drinking fluids is important while you workout, especially for endurance athletes, but it’s likely you’ll need a even more when you’re finished.  Luckily, good old fashioned water is all most people need to help their muscles start the repair process.  Water helps the body get started with recovery by supporting all metabolic functions, most importantly flushing out the things that build up while you exercise and allowing much needed blood and oxygen back into torn up muscles.

Keep moving.  Gentle movement, like walking, stretching or light yoga, is known as active recovery.  Staying in motion promotes circulation, moving nutrients into needy muscles and waste from your workout out.  More nutrients and less waste lead to faster repair, less recoverysoreness and a better next session.

Relax.  Foam roll, stretch, maybe an ice bath if you’re really in need or if you’re lucky, a massage.  Like performing active recovery, massaging muscles promotes circulation and tissue repair.  An additional bonus:  you can do this while you eat that high quality post workout food!

Go to bed.  Sleep is the best time to recover.  When you’re snoozing, the body is producing essential Growth Hormone to repair and build muscles.  Getting plenty of quality sleep can lead to stronger muscles, better performance and more endurance while sleep deprivation has been shown to lead to decreases in performance and increases in recovery times.

Use these tips for faster recovery to feel better after each workout and before your next one!  Have questions?  Email us at Info@FitNicePT.com or fill out the form below.

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!

Strength Training Injuries

Strength training can hurt.  Not only can it leave you sore and stiff, you can seriously injure bones, joints, ligaments and tendons if you’re over using, or incorrectly using, heavy weights.  Being familiar with your body and having proper training supervision are some of the best ways to prevent strength training injuries.  Other ways to avoid becoming injured, such as using a spotter, knowing when to stop or properly pacing your workout, are also great prevention.

If you do become injured, you face the real challenge of recovering from that injury.  The first thing you want to do when you get hurt is determine how serious your injury is and whether or not you need medical attention.  Most strength training injuries are fairly minor overuse issues.  If there is swelling associated with your injury, use the R.I.C.E method to control it.  Rest, ice, compression and elevation all work together to jump start the healing process.  Be careful of taking pain medication, as often these result in a slowing of the healing process, rather than helping it along.  Consider getting a massage to help worn out muscles recover, and plan on getting one regularly as part of your injury prevention plan.  When your recovery has you ready to get back in the gym, there are a few things you want to modify for a while before returning to your normal routine.

The benefits of training through an injury are that the muscles don’t have a chance to atrophy, joints stay lubricated and by maintaining strength you lower the risk of making it worse.  There are several ways your routine need to be modified so you can train through the injury without more damage.  By modifying exercises with lighter weight your muscle will maintain strength without being strain on the injured area.  After decreasing the weight you use, determine your pain free range of motion and stay within it.  You can slowly increase the range of motion as your body heals, but going immediately back to full range movement increases risk of reinjuring yourself.

Being completely recovered before heading back to the gym isn’t always necessary, and without a physician’s guidance, full recovery can be a tough thing to judge.  Be cautious when training through an injury, and consider seeking the guidance of a fitness professional to help you safely recover.  Protect yourself from future injury by using sport massages, stretching after every workout, and using proper form and get back in the weight room!

Injured?  Need advice on recovering?  We’re here to help!  Email us at Info@FitNicePT.com

Racing with Obstacles

Obstacle races are getting bigger by the minute.  Spartan Run, Savage Race, Tough Mudder, Metro Dash, GoRuck, the list can go on and on.  No matter how long the list gets, these ‘races’ all have something special in common.  Each event involves a lot more than simply running as fast as you can from point A to point B and often creates the need for you and your fellow participants to work together, rather than compete against one another.

You can train to run faster by running harder, longer, or both.  You can train to get stronger by lifting weights.  To be successful in an obstacle race, you need stamina, strength, coordination and maybe even a little strategy.  You need to maintain your strength for the given distance so you can be sure to make it over the massive cargo net or belly crawl through the mud.

To get ready for your event, look at the types of obstacles you might face.  Most races announce what you’ll be jumping over, running through, and sliding under, giving you the opportunity to be prepared the best you can after the start, and knowing you have the ability to complete each obstacle and a plan to cross the finish line are integral to success.

See a big wall you’ll have to climb on the map?  Practice pull-ups and hanging, find a jungle gym and use it!  Going to have to get on your belly and pass under barbed wire?  Get on the floor and start crawling.  Carrying something, or someone, with you?  Grab two heavy objects and walk around holding them.  If there are going to be jumps, hurdles or walls to scale, jump around.  Adding power exercises to your workout will help you clear these things without as much strain, and even though no one loves burpees, they’ll help you get ready.  These courses are meant to be unpredictable and are never the same twice, so have fun getting ready and don’t worry about a strict exercise schedule, you’ll want to keep your workouts mixed up.

The best way to prepare for success is to plan on going out to have fun.  You won’t be racing for a prize purse, so grab you friends and make memories.  Bringing a buddy or 10 with you will help you power through a tough course with a little laughter and lots of support, no matter where you are in your training.

Questions?  Want tips on preparing for your specific event?  Ask away at Info@FitNicePT.com!

The Importance of Functional Strength Training

Walking into a gym can be very intimidating.  You might see big confusing machines, a rack of free weights, or nothing more than pull-up bars and weight plates, and have no idea what you just walked in on.  While each of these environments can be help you reach your fitness goals, your best bet is to steer clear of those machines and focus on functional training, or functional exercises.

The benefits of functional fitness include better joint mobility, balance, endurance, flexibility and body composition.  When you do functional exercises correctly, you are increasing the range of motion in your joints, making them more stable and more efficient.  Functional exercises also allow your joints, bones and muscles to move in more than one plane, while machines lock you in one position and only allow for motion in one direction.  Moving in only one plane is very unrealistic and something we don’t frequently do in our daily lives.

Since we are almost always moving in more than one plane, there’s not a whole lot of reason to practice it.  Functional exercises mirror things we do every day, and those big machines don’t even come close.  While you can push, pull, and lift on a machine, you are working only one muscle group at a time, one plane.  Different types of functional movement and exercises are based on regular activities, like twisting, jogging, lifting, pushing, pulling, climbing, and jumping.  If you are sitting in a chair with a bar over your legs, only your biceps are going to work to curl the weights up, but if you’re standing with a pair of dumbbells in your hands, your legs are working to keep you standing, your core is working to maintain your balance and your shoulders are stabilizing your arms in the proper position so you can focus on the bicep curl you want to do.  This makes is easy to see how practicing these movements in the gym will not only make your targeted muscle group stronger and more powerful, but will improve coordination between your muscles and nervous system.

The best types of functional training include the use of free weights, like barbells, dumbbells and kettle bells, as well as cable systems, resistance bands, sand bags, balance disks and medicine balls.  Using any of these fitness tools, you can use functional strength training to improve your overall fitness as well as use it to help improve your sport specific skills.

Want a functional training routine?  Have questions about the equipment in the gym you use?  Ask us, we’re here to help you reach all of your fitness goals!  Info@FitNicePT.com

Strength Training Basics

The key to any strength training program is knowing what your goals are.  Strength training uses a variety of resistance techniques to achieve any number of goals, and your routine will vary greatly based on what your goals happen to be.  Weight training is a great way to burn fat and gain muscle no matter what your age, but it becomes especially important as we get older.

Muscles burn twice as many calories as fats do, so building muscle is a great way to enhance your metabolism and burn more calories every day.  When setting out to gain muscle and lose fat, it’s important to have a basic idea of what kind of routine you need to use to reach your specific goals.  There are lots of options for strength training equipment available, and you might be surprised how much you can do with just your own body weight.  Resistance bands, machines, free weights, and medicine balls are all other good choices for building muscles.  Picking a method for your training regimen has to be based on what your ultimate goal is.

If your goal is to ‘tone up’, you want to decrease body fat while simultaneously increasing muscle definition without busting out of your t-shirt.  In contract, those who want to buy bigger t-shirts for their biceps are trying to ‘bulk up’.  The average person is not interested in bulking up, lifting very heavy weights for a few reps every day, coupled with the strict diet required for reaching body building goals can really get in the way of day to day life.  That being said, everyone should lift heavy weights.

That may sound like a contradiction, but what you and I think of as heavy is a walk in the park to someone who body builds, just check out the Olympic records!  When your muscle becomes fatigued, it tears a little bit.  The body’s effort to repair these tears is what makes you sore and helps those muscle burn calories that take those unwanted pounds off.  Lifting light weights will get you results, if you have the time to do enough repetitions to fatigue your muscle.  You might have to do 100 reps with a 5lb weight to feel a little burn, but only 12 with a fifteen pound dumbbell.  Our time is valuable, so cutting down the reps by increasing the weight you lift will keep your workout moving along.

Whether we like it or not, muscle mass decreases with age.  It’s important to replace that muscle as we age regardless of what type of weight you’re lifting or how much time you spend doing it, as long as the muscles get tired.  Strength training of any type is also going to help keep bones dense, making them less likely to break and aiding in the prevention of osteoporosis.  Building muscle can also help with balance, making dangerous falls less likely to occur.

Now you have an idea of what you’re getting with a strength training routine, so go get started!  Have questions?  Want help?  Ask us!  Info@FitNicePT.com.