Stop Using Willpower!

What are your goals? Whether you want to lose weight, pack on muscle or increase your mobility, there will certainly be some amount of structure and/or sacrifice necessary to earn the goal you have in mind.

When I ask an individual what they believe it will take for them to achieve their goal, one of the most common answers is willpower. Maybe it’s not the exact term willpower, but it’s usually a synonym such as discipline, accountability or dedication. Something along those lines.

Willpower is a sense control deliberately exerted to do something or to restrain one’s own impulses.

What I don’t understand is why we’ve been lead to believe that building healthy habits is strictly based on willpower and discipline. Americans have been relying on willpower to improve their health for decades and where has that gotten us? Nowhere. In fact, things have dramatically worsened over the years according to the data collected by Harvard University’s School of Public Health.

Excerpt below:

In 1990, obese adults made up less than 15 percent of the population in most U.S. states. By 2010, 36 states had obesity rates of 25 percent or higher, and 12 of those had obesity rates of 30 percent or higher.

Today, nationwide, roughly two out of three U.S. adults are overweight or obese (69 percent) and one out of three is obese (36 percent).

What I’m trying to say is that we CANNOT rely on willpower when it comes to creating healthy habits. Our willpower WILL fail us, you can bank on that. Trust me, for the longest time I thought willpower alone would help me meet my goals. I found out time after time that, unfortunately, that is simply not the case.

Willpower is Scottie Pippen.

Willpower is great, but will not win you championships on its own.

Willpower needs a Michael Jordan.

ENVIRONMENT is Michael Jordan.

mj-pippen

 

Your environment is the absolute most important component of creating healthier habits. Environment trumps willpower and will always be superior when the two are faced against each other. It may not be immediate, but your willpower will eventually give in to your environment. It could take seconds, minutes, days or even years but it is 100% inevitable. No one is perfect, so to think that we can live, eat, exercise, work, etc. perfectly without giving in to temptation every now and then is purely erroneous.

The key is that we must develop an environment that is preparing us to succeed towards our goals.

Our willpower is limited, unfortunately we don’t have an infinite amount. Think of your willpower as your smartphone. If you’re on your phone talking, texting and playing on apps all day that’s going to drain your battery faster. Eventually, your battery is going to die and you’ll be forced to charge it. If you have to use willpower to turn down unhealthy food choices multiple times a day, that’s going to drain your supply of willpower faster. Eventually your willpower will run out and you’ll be chowing down on a combo meal from McDonald’s. Not good.

One of the best scientific studies that illustrates this is the Ego Depletion study by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published in 1998. This is one of the golden standards when it comes to the topic.

Here’s a brief outline:

Students participating in the study were asked to enter a laboratory room that was set up to look like a taste perception study. The room was filled with the aroma of freshly baked Chocolate Chip cookies, which had just been baked in the room. In the room, there were two different food displays; one was bowl of red and white radishes, the other was a plate of chocolate chip cookies and chocolate candies.

The participants were told which food to eat and how much of that food they were allowed to eat. After the tasting was over, the participants were asked to complete a series of geometric puzzles, however, they did not know that these puzzles were designed to be unsolvable. They were told that they would not be judged on the results of their puzzles, but on whether or not they finish the puzzle and the amount of time spent on them. Each participant was notified to ring a bell when they want to give up on the puzzle.

The results show that the participants who ate the radishes gave up on the puzzles FASTER than those who ate the chocolate/cookies (8.35 minutes vs. 18.90 minutes).

What does that mean? That means the group who was told to eat radishes depleted their supply of willpower by rejecting the delicious cookies. They exhausted their own willpower so much that they quickly gave up on the next challenge they were faced with.

Excerpt below:

Resisting temptation seems to have produced a psychic cost, in the sense that afterward participants were more inclined to give up easily in the face of frustration.

The key here is to set yourself up for success with an environment tailored towards what you’re trying to accomplish. The goal is to NOT use your willpower, because you’re not forced to use it by temptations in your environment. Instead of having your environment battle with your willpower, we need to utilize these two things in tandem, just like the Michael Jordan & Scottie Pippen analogy I used before.

If you are consistently living with a healthy environment, you won’t need to use your willpower. That way when things get shaken up and you call on your willpower for help, you actually have the strength to keep your eyes on the prize.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” So let’s prep our lives to be healthy.

  • Prepare your meals in advance.
  • Keep only healthy items in your refrigerator and pantry.
  • Hang out with friends who also value their health.
  • Be positive and friendly to everyone that you meet.
  • Work your hardest in everything that you do.

These are easy ways to create the environment you need to meet your goals.

Don’t rely on willpower anymore. You’re stronger than that.

SOURCES:

1) “An Epidemic of Obesity: U.S. Obesity Trends.” The Nutrition Source. Harvard University: School of Public Health. Web. 2 Apr. 2015. <http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/an-epidemic-of-obesity/>.

2) Baumeister, Roy, Ellen Bratslavsky, Mark Muraven, and Dianne Tice. “Ego Depletion: Is the Active Self a Limited Resource?” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Web. 2 Apr. 2015. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/files/attachments/584/baumeisteretal1998.pdf>.

What Is Your Body Type?

When it comes to starting a new exercise program and/or nutrition plan, it’s not a one size fits all process. For me, as a trainer, many specific factors go into consideration when I create the programs that I present to clients. For you, as a fitness enthusiast, the selection process should be just as precise.

You need to follow a program that is right for YOU. Nine times out of ten, what works for one individual will not work as effectively for the next.

Although we all have very different genetics and body types, the human body can be classified by these three basic body types.

  • Ectomorph
  • Mesomorph
  • Endomorph

Check out the illustrations below from Bodybuilding.com for a general overview of what each body type looks like!

ECTOMORPH

  • Narrow hips and clavicles
  • Small joints (wrist/ ankles)
  • Thin build
  • Stringy muscle bellies
  • Long limbs
MESOMORPH

  • Wide clavicles
  • Narrow waist
  • Thinner joints
  • Long and round muscle bellies
ENDOMORPH

  • Blocky
  • Thick rib cage
  • Wide/thicker joints
  • Hips as wide (or wider)
    than clavicles
  • Shorter limbs

Bodybuilding.com‘s Paul Becker has recently launched a body type test that you can take and find out which body type you are. By finding out whether you’re an ecto, meso or endomorph, you can better understand your body and what it needs to function optimally. Head over to their site and take the quiz by clicking the button below!

Photos and sources: Paul Becker, Bodybuilding.com

7 Common Exercise Mistakes

Exercise can be fairly intimidating to those starting an exercise routine and to those who have been trying to meet their goals for a while.  Exercise and fitness is at its tallest height of popularity, which is good and bad.  Its great that we are realizing the importance and benefit of physical exertion and activity and research backs up these claims page by page.  Its bad because, there are a lot of “experts” out there that aren’t qualified as experts, just self proclaimed because they have biceps.

Through social media you are able to view many people in great shape, that are throwing out advice for the masses on how to workout, what to do, and what supplements to take.  This can be a very dangerous road for the new exerciser because of the information overload. Information overload can lead to confusion and exercise mistakes.  Just because Joe Liftalot has a 6 pack doesn’t mean he “knows” the right exercises to do for you and your body.  A picture says a 1000 words but there is 10,000 other words that cant be expressed in a photo alone.

Dr. Mercola is a well respected health expert and has been pumping out good infuriation to the public, from a holistic approach, for years.  Anything from water and hydration to pollution in your environment, Dr. Mercola has an extensive knowledge of health & wellness.   He is a trusted resource by me as well as thousands of other fitness professionals, he’s also backed up by powerful research and delivery.  He just recently published an article on his website Mercola.com called “7 Common Workout Mistakes Beginners Make” which I believe is a great and important read!

The Huffington Post and Mens Health recently featured some of these common mistakes as well:

  1. You skip the warm-up

  2. You avoid strength training

  3. You don’t do flexibility training

  4. You miss out on the advice of a fitness trainer

  5. You overdo it

  6. You think you’re too old

  7. You think running is the only form of cardio

 

Number 6 & 7 are my favorites, and by favorite I mean those are the ones that annoy me the most.  I’ve heard some form of these issues at least 500 times a piece.=, but I believe it simply comes down to “training smarter and not harder.” Have you made any of these mistakes on the list? If so, come by the gym and ask me or any of our trainers how you can correct the issue moving forward! That is why we’re here!

Respect your body in 2015.  You are worth it.

-Mike L.

The Importance of Hip Strength

A few weeks ago I highlighted the importance of mobility in the hips and the importance of maintaining this mobility as you age. This week I want to shift the focus to hip strength, particularly with regard to the abductors and external rotators.

Last week, I touched on the importance of having strong abductors and external rotators in the hip with a particular focus on how it effects knee stability. Valgus collapse is the combination of hip adduction and internal rotation of the hip. It can be easily recognized when performing a squat. Stand facing a mirror and perform a bodyweight squat. If you feel and see your knees collapsing inward (toward the midline) then you are probably experiencing valgus collapse. Why is this important to catch and correct?

Photo Credit: www.bostonphysicaltherapy.com

Photo Credit: www.bostonphysicaltherapy.com

The Danger of Valgus

Knee valgus is dangerous because of the excessive pressure placed on the MCL and ACL during this motion. It can be particularly dangerous in athletes playing sports that require a great deal of jumping. More specifically, the heavy eccentric load that comes with landing puts a great deal of stress on the knee joint. If valgus collapse is a common occurrence during this motion, the stress is focused a great deal on the medial aspect of the knee joint and also on the ACL inside the joint. Bottom line: You want to preserve the health of your ligaments and joints!

Women are more prone to these injuries due to their naturally wider hips. This is why there has been a big focus on preventative medicine with regard to women in sports such as basketball and volleyball. There are no exercises to fully prevent an ACL tear, but there are exercises and routines you can follow to drastically decrease the chances.

The Solution to Valgus

When looking to correct this issue, I always start at the hips. Proper strength and firing of the gluteal muscles and major external rotators helps minimize the valgus collapse because it forces the knees out laterally. One things I like to do with clients to demonstrate this is to have them stand on hardwood (or some other slightly slick surface) with socks on. They place their feet all the way together with toes facing directly forward when relaxed. I then have them forcefully squeeze their glutes together and have them observe what their feet do. The heels stay together, but the toes move away from each other due to the external rotation at the hip.

If we look at this from a functional standpoint and refer back to the jumping athlete; strong external rotators and glutes also helps to resist the internal rotation that contributes to the collapse. We are not only looking to strengthen these muscles, but train them to fire appropriately. This training comes with repetition with exercises such as lateral hops and depth jumps.

There are other contributing factors to valgus collapse as well such as limited flexibility in the ankles in dorsiflexion and weak quadriceps muscles. However, today, I want to keep most of the focus on the hips. Here are a few light exercises to start with to begin strengthening and teaching those glutes and rotators to fire to increase stability in the knee. Enjoy!

  1. Lateral band walks with straight legs

  2. Lateral band walks with bent knees

  3. Glute bridges

  4. Clamshells

  5. Lunges (Good ol’ lunges!)

Also, for athletes, check out Alan Stein and Stronger Team for a couple videos demonstrating some good exercises to help reduce the risk of having an ACL tear or other related injuries.

Thanks!

Ben

—–

SOURCES:
  1. http://bretcontreras.com/knee-valgus-valgus-collapse-glute-medius-strengthening-band-hip-abduction-exercises-and-ankle-dorsiflexion-drills/
  2. bostonphysicaltherapy.com
  3. http://www.strongerteam.com/2014/08/05/what-you-kneed-to-know/

The Importance of Hip Mobility

Last week, I highlighted mobility, and why I believe it is so important to your health. If you missed out on that, you can read it here. This week,  want to focus a bit deeper on the mobility in your hips! Let’s get started!

The hip girdle has a complex assortment of muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia and bony articulations all working together to provide advanced mobility and movement. It is a fascinating region of the human body that can provide great ease to movement if all parts are working together correctly. Achieving and maintaining great hip mobility takes time, but it is crucial to your health and physical well-being and becomes increasingly important as you age. Having full range-of-motion (ROM) at the acetabulum can increase performance and increase explosive movements that originate at the hip.

When mobility is impeded at the hip there are many injuries that could occur both superior and inferior to the joint. Take the squat, for instance. When mobility is limited the chance for a lower back injury drastically increases. Individuals will compensate (with bad form) by recruiting lower back muscles to lift the weight. Similarly, tightness in the hip abductors (primarily the tensor fascia latte and the gluteus medius) can cause the IT band to serve as more of a static stabilizer on the lateral aspect of the knee when the stability we really want at the knee joint is anything but static. (However, this become more of a strength issue in the TFL and the Glute Med (and other secondary abductors) as well as the external rotators of hip which we will discuss next week!)

So getting back to mobility – we really do not tend to think about or work on it until it is too late and an injury has occurred. At this point it becomes a long process of finding the problem area(s) and correcting the movement. This is not a short process, particularly after an injury. There are very few individuals who have great hip flexibility and mobility; so we all have room for improvement. Having your (natural) functional movement patterns examined prior to starting any workout plan is the key to success when it comes to hip mobility. After all, the key is to build strength around the joints. However, we want to strengthen the correct movement patterns, not further solidify and strengthen incorrect movements as this will only make it more difficult to correct.

For me, it all begins and ends with the hips. “Bad” hips can cause issues throughout the entire body. Many of the problems in the lower extremities as well as the torso originate and stem from mobility, flexibility, and strength issues in the hip region. The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) can reveal some underlying issues throughout all of the major joints in the body and can help your trainer build a program for you based on weak areas and areas of limited mobility or flexibility.

We, as humans, were made to move efficiently and effectively. It is through activities such as driving, typing, texting, and SITTING (the list goes on) for extended amounts of time that we train our bodies to move ineffectively and inefficiently. Sadly, activity levels are continuously dropping in the US due to the technology that enables us to accomplish nearly any task without having to move 2 feet in any direction. Advances in technology are great, but let’s not let it inhibit what we were made to do…MOVE!

Have a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year!

Ben

The Importance of Exercise Form

Exercise form is extremely important, but why is it one of the first things we sacrifice just to “get it done?”

This is one question that I’ve been trying wrap my head around for a long time now.  Before we created 1 & Only Fitness I would go into gyms on a consistent basis and see fellow gym goers exercising, looking like they are violently possessed and seconds away from cracking a vertebrae. That is not my idea of an effective workout. To me, it looks like the risk definitely outweighed the reward. My opinion on this matter is solely based upon these fellow gym goers’ lack of results or just never seeing them workout again!

Exercise form is a crucial part of safety and body development for avid exercisers.  Understanding how your body is supposed to move rather than forcing movement to “get it done” will guarantee the results you want. Actually, you’ll probably see your results in half the time when using precise technique. You’ll aslo greatly decrease setbacks such as injury.

Let’s look at this scenario:

We’ve all been at the gym when there is a dude bench pressing, right? When he’s finished trying to lift more weight than he should be lifting, he places his hand on his shoulder, moving his arm in a seemingly painful windmill type motion. C’mon, like that’s going to help with the injury you feel from your bad form!

All of this can be avoided by learning, implementing and practicing proper form rather than stroking your ego in the gym just to “get it done.”  A great testing tool to help you achieve and maintain proper form is a mobility test called The Functional Movement Screen (FMS).  We use this tool to assess our clients and members from an anatomical standpoint.

fms-about-banner

The test lets us know of any mobility issues, muscular imbalances, flexibility restrictions or lack of stability.  99% of injuries occurring in gyms is from the lack of proper form.  Bad form one time will not (in most cases) cause injury, but that repeating that improper from time after time will eventually catch up with you. When it does, this can cause setbacks.

Sometimes you must sacrifice the completion of the desired 12-15 reps, to focus on proper form, which is exponentially important for avoiding setbacks and injuries.

Who likes setbacks?  I personally like accomplishments, it suits my spirit best.

You can accomplish your goals, prolong and preserve your body many years longer with proper form. Or… you can wreck your joints and spine because you chose to sacrifice good form strictly to “get it done.”

The choice is your and may the odds forever be in your favor.

Please exercise safe, smart and suitable for your goals and your body. Come in and see us anytime and we’ll develop a plan and goal system tailor-made for you. With the holidays approaching, give us the goal of joy. The joy of seeing you reach your goals!

One life, one body, one you.

Mike

Robb’s Favorite Full-Body Exercise!

When it comes to getting a full-body workout, using the Battle Ropes can really target all of your muscle groups at once. There are several ways you can achieve full-body fatigue, but one method that I use on a consistent basis on myself AND clients is the Battle Ropes. Specifically, I use the Alternating Squat to Lunge move with the ropes.

Here’s what to do:

  • Start off in a good squat position, or an athletic stance, with your chest and head up. You should be facing the anchor of the rope.
  • While rapidly whipping the rope with your left arm & right arm in an alternating fashion, take a step back into a lunge position.
  • Repeat this action for the prescribed reps or time of the exercise, alternating your legs with each lunge.

Demonstration:

Typically I will perform 3-5 sets of 45 seconds with the ropes, followed by 15 seconds of rest, in a circuit.

While the lunges target your Quadriceps, Glutes, Calves and Hamstrings, you’re also getting a great workout for your Arms, Shoulders and Upper Back. This may not seem like a core exercise, but it actually takes an abundance of core strength to keep the ropes moving. If you lack the core stability, the ropes may actually end up moving YOU.

Aside from the muscle groups that are worked by the Battle Ropes, this exercise also helps develop Cardiovascular endurance and mental toughness. This truly is a TOTAL BODY workout.

Try it out next time you’re in the gym. If you need any help, just grab me or any of the other trainers.

Enjoy!

Robb

“Mobility? Who cares… I just want to lose the weight”

I hear it all the time, “Who cares how I am moving, as long as I am moving, right? I just want to lose weight.”

At the front end of that argument, I would agree – any movement is better than no movement. On the other hand, you don’t go to work every day just to pass the time and collect a paycheck, do you? You are expected to complete tasks fully AND correctly. Your boss demands it and your job depends on it. How you choose to move is no different. Having full and healthy range-of-motion (ROM) is the key to living injury free, maximizing performance and prolonging independent living in your later years.

Joint mobility exercises involve moving a joint through its full ROM without pain. Slight discomfort is okay as this discomfort lets you know where your limitations lie. It is important to do mobility training when learning new, multi-joint exercises such as the squat or the lunge. Limitations in your mobility can keep you from proper form and further expose you to injury – delaying you from reaching your goals.

For those new to exercise, having a trainer watch your form to locate any limitation or discrepancy in mobility is important before progressing and proceeding with any routine. Mobilizing THEN strengthening around the joint is the way to go for long term health benefits. Locating these problem areas now, rather than later, will give you more time to correct the movement and get you on your way to using your body the correct way.

With mobilizing joints and correcting other problem areas, there is rarely a “quick fix.” Be prepared to work at these problem areas during your period of “correction” without getting overly frustrated about veering from your current routine. Likely these problem areas and immobility’s have developed over the course of many years so don’t expect them to be corrected in one session. Take the time to build your form, your technique and yourself the right way.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it was built to last.

Tune in the next couple of weeks to read more on mobility and flexibility and how important these two factors are to your overall health.

In Good Health,

Ben