Wednesday, June 30, 2010

High Intensity Cardio Strategy

Cardio must be done, but done correctly.  By that I mean only for a short period of time, but with great intensity.  Banish the 30-45 minute sessions and replace them with 15-20 minutes.  Do HIIT CARDIO (High Intensity Interval Training). This involves alternating periods of all out intense effort with a much slower pace. 

Base your intensity on a verbal conversation sliding scale of 1-10.  (Not Maximum heart rate!)
Number 1 being a slow walk with minimal effort and exertion.
Number 5 being a power walk where you can carry on a conversation without heavy breathing and feeling like your lungs will explode.
Number 10 being an all out sprint/run at 100% maximum effort. 

Example: A 15-minute session would be 1:30 seconds at pace #5 and a .30 second sprint one at level 10 and then repeat this cycle for 15 minutes.  GREAT WORKOUT.  No warm-up necessary because you should be performing cardio work after weight training.

So when is the best time for cardio and how should I do it?   The answer is any time! The most important thing is that you just do it. If you want to get the maximum benefits possible from every minute you invest in your workouts, and then you should consider getting up early and doing cardio before you eat your first meal - even if you're not a "morning person." Early morning aerobic exercise on an empty stomach has three major advantages over exercising later in the day:

The primary benefit you'll get from early morning cardio sessions is what I call the "afterburn" effect. When you do a cardio session in the morning, you not only burn fat during the session, but you also continue to burn fat at an accelerated rate after the workout. Why? Because an intense session of interval style cardiovascular exercise can keep your metabolism elevated up to 24 hours after the session is over.

 If you do cardio at night, you will still burn fat during the session, so you definitely benefit from it. However, nighttime cardio fails to take advantage of the "afterburn" effect because your metabolism drops like a ton of bricks as soon as you go to sleep. While you sleep, your metabolic rate is slower than any other time of the day. 

Perry Nickelston, DC, SFMA
Move Smarter...Move Better...Perform Great!  

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Top 10 Devices to Build Muscle and Burn Fat

There are tons of gizmos out there claiming to help you get into great shape. If I tried to review all of them I would be here all day...and that ain't happening. I have been working out since I was 14, and the fitness industry was really in its infancy. Yes, I am that old! Damn, 43 comes fast. I can tell you because of the following list I am in the best shape of my life at 43 and can move great for a 245 pounds guy. Ok, are you ready? Then let's we go.

1.   Your own bodyweight
Ask the average person to do a push up or chin-up and the results will be frightening. Run away when you see that quality of movement. When we start lifting weights and using machines we tend to forget about basic bodyweight movements and this is a shame because if done correctly in a routine it can build your body quick. Try mixing in chins, push ups, burpees, power jumps, etc into a superset workout with your weights. Say hello heart rate. Example: Do a set of benches and then go right to push ups no rest until exhaustion.

TRX Suspension Trainer
This blends perfectly into bodyweight training because it helps your body move in so many directions (called vector training: see my latest YouTube video on this topic) Click here: Vetor Video
I love my TRX, we are very close! Relax now, not that close. TRX allows you to do bodyweight exercise virtually anywhere, hence their business name ‘Fitness Anywhere’. Check it out here:

Renegade by PurMotion
Now this device is the ‘mack daddy’ of training with an Olympic bar. Talk about movement with resistance. Put this device inside a few 25lb plates and then insert your  Olympic bar (45 or 35 pounders) into the Renegade and start twisting, turning, pressing, pulling, rotating and kicking your own ass. I use this every single workout in conjunction with my TRX…try super setting these and oh my will you feel some serious burning. Click here to learn more:Renegade

Say what? How can playing with ropes get me tone? I love rope training. This movement really builds stability and activates your core like there is no tomorrow.  Superset it with resistance training for a deep muscle activation burn and now you are talking fun stuff. As you can tell, I really like super setting and fast paced momentum between sets.  Get that heart rate moving to burn more calories in less time.. Your arms will be on fire.

Unless you have been living in a cave you know what a kettlebell is and you better be training with one too. If not, get off your ass and get some. This is old school movement training that is fun and challenging. The Turkish Getup is probably my number one favorite exercise and is damn near close to be a perfect movement. Master all the steps and really feel a difference in your body. Here is an idea, superset it with ropes. Imagine that?

Prowler Sled
This device I call the ‘Hurler’ because it makes me throw up all the time. Nice! Now why in the world would you want to do that? If you workout hard, you know the answer to that one. I should not have to explain. This device builds everything and there is no way to make it easy. You want hardcore…this is it. Do a few rounds of this and you will have a heart rate through the roof and quads that are screaming. Hello fun times.

 A blender
Yes, a real food blender. Why? Cause burning fat and increasing lean muscle comes down to nutrition and diet. You gotta be adding additional supplementation to your body via meal replacement and protein drinks. When you train hard, you gotta eat hard! Meaning you have to make sacrifices and choose between the things you want and the things your body needs. You will not get beyond a certain point in appearance and training without supplementation.  So go to the store and invest in a blender. Make shakes not margaritas.

Your refrigerator
Eat with purpose!! You must be strategic in giving your body the necessary nutrients to heal and grow. If you eat like crap, you look like crap! Pretty simple actually. And listen up!! Eating healthy is not the same as eating for fitness. Read that again! Lots of people eat healthy and still look like crap. Why? Fitness nutrition is totally different than plain healthy eating. It’s about nutrient timing, meal combinations, changing hormone levels based on activity and fitness goals.  A great book on hormones and fitness nutrition is Ultimate You by Joe Dowdell and Brooke Kalanick. Check it out here: Ultimate You

Body Bar
These bars are awesome. You can swing them in all directions and be so creative with lower body exercises to isolate the glutes and hips. Rotational training gets an added bonus when you put some resistance on it. Try doing a reverse lunge with a twist holding a Body Bar, or lumberjack chops. Guys, don’t’ think this is girly training either. Give me 5 minutes teaching you a core circuit I will have you panting for air and screaming for rest. Click here to see more details and sample routines: Body Bar

Resistance bands
Variable resistance is the key to muscle activation. Variable resistance means the tension changes based on distance from equipment and you must fight the eccentric load. Men are guilty of not using these. They think these are girly things. Well listen up guys, bands and tubing can take your body to an entirely new level.  

Perry Nickelston, DC, SFMA

Monday, June 14, 2010

Foam Rolling Bashing?

Ok, so there seems to be some bashing going on around about foam rolling. Some say it's not really effective and that it can hurt ya, and it's better to do all these other techniques. Well, let me tell ya from my perspective from being in the real world trenches everyday with clients needing help...foam rolling is crucial. Most people never do anything for their facial system and few have ever used the foam roll.

In our fitness world it may seem different because we see people use it all the time, but for the average person, it ain't happening. Being in the healthcare field I understand human nature of dealing with pain. If nothing hurts, people think they are healthy...and if it does hurt, ignore it until it goes away...when it comes back again, then seek help and want to get fixed in one visit. Hello reality!!

 Foam rolling is an art form and you can get hurt if you do it wrong or are not a candidate for it. It is up to you, the professional to teach people the correct techniques for rolling. I will have another post coming that talks about techniques and when to not do foam rolling.

I can change  persons life with a foam roller, tennis ball, rope and a mini-band. Addressing soft tissue in any format is always a positive. So, don't be so quick to be hard on the foam my opinion it is one the most effective form of self treatment therapies available to the public.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Your Ass is Your Foot

Say what Doc? Have you finally lost your mind? Well sort of...What do I mean by this statement? As a society WE SIT ALL DAY, so instead of being on our feet all day we are on our ass all day! We were designed to move and stand on our feet...not sit. In essence with this much sitting, we have a cascade of dysfunctional movement and muscle symmetry.

The body typically ends up with quad dominance, tight hip flexors, anterior weight shift, decreased hip extension and glute activation, weak hamstrings, restricted ankle mobility and hyper-kyphotic thoracic spine. Now imagine trying to go workout and train hardstyle with this movement pattern. This is what the average person does...They go to the gym and ask their trainer to 'kick their ass' or go to crazy bootcamps and crossfit workouts where the body cannot tolerate the movements. What happens...injury usually...BUT you also have decreased movement and lack of muscle control meaning your performance suffers. Don't even get me started on a lack of durability.

One thing most people do when they train is they come to the gym after sitting on their ass all day, sitting in their car to get to the gym and then sit down on equipment to train even more with resistance. HELLO!! See anything wrong here?

So how do you see how bad your movement is? Get an FMS Functional Movement Screen. And if you have pain get the SFMA. Get evaluated before you start moving. Movement Screen

Friday, June 4, 2010

Top 5 Functional Movement List for Crossfit Workouts

Yes, Crossfit is a workout with many raving fans and yes it can kick your ass pretty good. And yes, you can get hurt doing it if you do not take the time to assess proper movement in 5 essential areas. Crossfit has some very cool and unique training programs that are rooted in some base foundational exercises which stress all the vectors of human movement. Theses 5 vectors are:

  1. Pushing
  2. Pulling
  3. Rotation
  4. Level Changes
  5. Locomotion
Now most people who begin an exercise program or want to step it up and train even harder, do not have adequate mobility (movement) in their joints and even less stability (controlling movement). We are a very sedentary culture sitting on our butts all day, so in essence our butt becomes our feet. This leads to tightness, restrictions and compensations. Because of this fact compensations and quality of movement suffer in order to reach a quantity of movement (reps/sets/tempo). This applies to all forms of intense exercise, not just Crossfit. I talk about Crossfit because I like the program and people really move during a workout and that's a good thing. But I want to make sure they can keep working out without injury, and also increased performance. If you move smarter...then you move better...then you perform great.

Ok so what are the Top 5 Movements?
  1. Proper ankle Mobility---Now this is a big one. If the ankle is restricted in movement there will be massive compensations up the chain of joints and muscles. Try doing massive squat reps with a locked down ankle and your knee and back will pay the price. The knee should go 4 inches out over the toe if the ankle moves well when assessing movement. Click here to do my favorite Ankle Mobility Drill. Mobility Drill
  2. Hip Mobility---Locked down hips are a huge problem for most people. Locked down means stuck. Th hip is supposed to be very mobile. If it locks down the knee and back become less stable and get injured. But you never feel pain in the hip. Internal rotation is the vector that is lost the most.  Every person who works out must have hip motion assessed. i see high end athletes who look awesome and they cannot move their hips. Can you say compensations. Click here to see my favorite hip mobility stretch: Hip Stretch
  3. Thoracic Spine Mobility---Lack of rotation and extension in the thoracic spine can kill a shoulder. It is actually one of the top reasons for chronic shoulder pain because of the lack of stability in the shoulder blade from faulty mechanics of the T-spine. One of the most powerful things you can do to help with upper body power and motion is the tennis ball technique which I will show you. Think about how many overhead presses, cleans, snatches and shoulder moves you to with a workout. If your T-spine is locked down....kiss that shoulder and neck goodbye soon. Tennis Ball Secret
  4. Upper Cervical Fascia---The soft tissue connective tissue in your body called fascia can cause many chronic pains if it is too tight or restricted. One very common place for this is at the back of the skull. Rub behind your neck right now and I bet it will be pretty tender. This tightness or pulling affects your line of site since it pulls the head back, this causes a compensation of rounded shoulders and mid-back humping. It is very important to have adequate movement in the neck. Ty this test. Keep your mouth closed and teeth together. Can you touch your chin to chest? Look up to the ceiling, is your face within 10 degrees of being parallel to the ceiling? Can you touch your chin to each collar bone without raising your shoulders? DO any of these moves hurt? If you have pain or cannot get full motion in these areas, you have dysfunctional movement. An injury may be headed your way. 
  5. Plantar Fascia: ---The bottom of your foot (plantar) is full of soft tissue fascia. If it is tight or restricted you will be tight all the way up the back of your leg into the back and even neck. This is one of the most powerful areas to look at for movement. The foot is the foundation of everything. Try this: Roll a golf ball on the bottom of both feet. Is it tender? You should roll a golf ball on your feet daily for several minutes regardless of tenderness. It only makes you better.
Ok, there ya have it. These are just a few of the things I teach in my upcoming book on Recovery, Regeneration and Performance Enhancement. Little things make a big difference. learn to move better and I guarantee you will look better too. Feel free to contact me anytime via my website or facebook Fanpage page. Both key worded as 'Stop Chasing Pain.' have fun moving!!! Now go Crossfit with proper movement.

Perry Nickelston, DC, SFMA