Wednesday, October 12, 2016

How to Lose That First 10 Pounds When You're Too Busy to Exercise

Guest Post by Ridwan Mao

If you’re someone who doesn’t have time to lose weight because of work, family time, and other priorities, I’m going to show you how those things don’t have to hold you back. My goal in this article is to teach you a step-by-step system to reverse your weight gain. The best part is that you can starting using it today to lose that first 10 pounds.

No pharmaceutical conspiracies or ancient fat-burning chia seed cooking secrets here, just sensible strategy and a systematic process. My two favourite things.

Meet Kevin

Before we jump into that, I need to introduce you to my friend Kevin (he’s a great guy, trust me). Not too long ago, he was feeling stuck.

Meet Kevin. In real life, he has more limbs and less hair.

Kevin had been waiting for "next Monday" to start his fitness program for months. He felt like he was the biggest he’d ever been, but if the topic of fitness ever came up he would just sort of mumble, “I’ll get back into the gym when my schedule clears up…”

“When my schedule clears up” is right around “next Monday” in terms of time, for those curious.

Kevin reached the tipping point when he realized 10 minutes into running around his backyard with his daughters that his knees and back hurt and he was completely winded. Due to his weight gain, he felt like he couldn’t keep up with them anymore.

But then, without committing hours every week to the gym, he figured out how to start losing weight in a way that fit his lifestyle. I told you he was a great guy.

We’re going to check back in with Kevin at the end of this article, because every good story needs a little suspense.

So Where Do We Start?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Three Dirtiest Words in Fitness

The three dirtiest words in fitness these days are "Functional," "Movement," and "Screen" -- especially when used in that order [1].

For anyone who's unfamiliar, the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) is a series of seven functional movements (e.g. squat, push-up, lunge) designed to screen (i.e. check for) for pain, movement quality, and injury risk.

By providing objective criteria for scoring the various movements (‘0’ for ouch, ‘1’ for shitty, ‘2’ for passable, and ‘3’ for perfection -- all my words, not theirs) the FMS enables practitioners to establish a movement "baseline," as well as to identify mobility/stability deficits and side-to-side asymmetries, which can then help guide program design.

The actual FMS scoring system

Sounds like a great idea, eh? In theory, yes. But it’s created a whole crap-ton of controversy.

Some trainers are diehard proponents of the FMS [2], using it on all of their clients at intake and follow-up assessments for comparison to baseline. Others think it's complete garbage, citing studies that have found the FMS’s injury prediction capabilities to be moderate at best.

It’s true: in many of the populations that have been tested, the FMS doesn’t do a very good job of separating people who are at risk for injury from people who aren’t. Potentially due to having too few data points (7 screens × 3 points = 21 total points possible), it fails to do what it was designed to do. Yikes!

Why not just change the scoring criteria to better differentiate between performance on each test, one might wonder? Instead of scoring from 0 to 3, why not make it, say, 0 to 5?

It turns out that by increasing that number, you actually decrease the reliability of each score. This is because when there are 5 possible points it’s much harder to come to a consensus about what a ‘1’ is versus a ‘2’ or what a ‘3’ is compared to a ‘4.’

Even the most skilled testers may not give a particular movement the exact same score on a scale from 0 to 5. At that point, chaos would ensue, and the results of the screen would have even less meaning than they do now. No bueno.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Secret to Maximizing Strength and Muscle

Shannan Maciejewski was one of the first fitness people I connected with on social media many moons ago. Lucky for me, he’s also one of the good guys. Despite residing a million miles away (in Australia), his genuine, caring personality easily bridges the great divide.

Over the years, I’ve learned a hell of a lot from Shannan. Today, I’m honored to share an original guest post he wrote for my site. His “tension-volume knob” analogy is worth the price of admission alone (which is free since it’s my blog!). Enjoy! -TP

The Secret to Maximizing Strength and Muscle
Guest Post by Shannan Maciejewski

Have you ever experienced that moment in training when something just clicks?

It’s like an ‘aha’ moment where everything falls into place. From then on, it seems as if all the puzzling conversations, all the lead up work, and all the cues that once didn’t make sense, now for some reason do.

Understanding the importance of tension in training to maximize performance can be one of those times (especially specific to certain exercises).

As coaches, we often communicate the importance of certain focus points in relation to improved exercise execution with cues like
  • “Get tight.”
  • “Bend the bar.”
  • “Get the lats on.”
  • “Crush the bar.”
  • “Shoulders back.”

Oftentimes we find ourselves hammering these cues until the cows come home with little to no effect. It’s our job -- the art of coaching, if you will -- to figure out why our cueing is ineffective, and then devise a plan of attack.

It could be that they just don’t get what you’re putting out. In this case, it may be time for another cue, another demo, or a brand new approach to achieve the desired outcome.

That’s where today’s post comes in.