Friday, August 19, 2011

Climbing mountains....

First day of my mini vacation and I'm up before the sun...getting in a workout and then headed up to the Adirondacks for a long weekend! Looking forward to getting away and enjoying the fresh mountain air, spend some time slowing down a bit, as we all know, living a fit and healthy lifestyle requires a lot of go, go, go! Hope to enjoy sleeping a bit later....'til 6 am?  :) As much as I miss my gym workouts, the body could probably use a break and honestly spending a long weekend in the mountains is the only way I will miss a workout...I've looked for a gym nearby, no real gym for miles. Certainly don't plan on getting lazy, sure I can find some heavy rock and logs to lift, mountains to climb and lakes to swim! We'll call it active rest. Lots of time with my boys, raiding the beloved 'game closet' full of the classic board games from my childhood, fishing, hiking, water skiing and splashing in the lake!
Some challenge presents with sticking tight to the clean eating meal plan, making good progress this week and certainly don't want to undo the hard work, blowing it by eating too many s'mores (luckily not my favorite but have been guilty of sneaking a few chocolate squares from the supplies, only dark chocolate of course) Packing up a lot of my regular menu items, extras to share, hoping to show others how good some of "my food" can be. Just have to be strong in resisting the 'vacation' snacks. Vacation is a required component of a healthy lifestyle (mental health!) but the nutrition and activity plan need not be treated as a vacation.  Re-entry to the real world mid week and then it's time to submit final pictures and stats for the completion of the Summer Transformation Challenge!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Critical importance of Training the Weakest Link

Human nature leads us to travel the path of least resistance. This holds true in so many aspects of life. Consider how you tackle your day, your training, your job...always looking for the easy way, the short cut, avoiding those things less enjoyable. Face it, eventually things end up out of balance! Time to work on strengthening the weakest link.
Consider your training program... bragging rights as well as the intense desire to continue to break PRs encourages us to continue to add load to lifts. But we should not forget the importance of training the weakest link. Unless we pay attention to the detail in the mechanics of the movement the body will rely on the strongest muscles, and sometimes not the intended, if you continue to load the movement pattern. The result: further strengthening the stronger muscular structures and reinforcing compensated movement patterns only encouraging the weaker to become weaker and increasing risk for injury. Those mirrors on the gym wall? Not just for flexing and posing but for watching form and technique to assist you in assuring proper movement patterns!
Imbalances/weak links can occur/exist in any joint or movement pattern but several come to the front of my mind based on both personal experiences with training tendencies as well as experiences with treating patients...
Core stability plays a huge roll in all training programs or should.... while everyone attacks core training for the highly enviable six-pack (which, by the way, is revealed when you clean up the diet), they tend to go about training the core with weights before really grasping the concept of proper abdominal activation. Weakness in the core or simply lack of core activation can result in injury. All too many training to get big and strong forget about the the fact that the core is the central base that all the extremities work from, lose function and stability here all can suffer. Let's look as legs training... pushing heavier and heavier weights on machines such as the leg press certainly will strengthen your legs but be sure to balance this strength and protect your back but doing an equal amount to train the core and also consider/include training in a more functional position and do squats. Is it really greater functional strength you gain by pushing heavier weights on the leg press or just bragging rights? Consider if this is worth the potential for injury or consider changing/expanding your training program.
Scapular and back strengthening is also often forgotten or more often not performed correctly leading to imbalance in the upper back and shoulder girdle. So many benefits to training the weaker link here, scapular stability will protect you from shoulder injury as well as improved posture and improved aesthetics. Look around the gym ,those big guys flexing their pecs in the mirror most likely are lacking strength/size in the scapular musculature as they can't impress themselves by flexing those :)  Enter, poor posture, shoulder injury and general meatheadedness!
Training programs should not be about how much we can lift, push or pull but how well we do it.

There is also critical importance to strengthening the weak links in other areas of life as well. Consider how you tackle everyday life, your relationships, your nutrition, your to-do list. Take a look at your about overall use of time, be efficient and tackle those things you have been avoiding that ultimately just continue to wear away at you. Have those uncomfortable conversations and get the air cleared, strengthen relationships. Be honest about why your body composition/physique goals aren't being met...put down the cookie! Take an honest look at what your day requires to get things done and get started!
Are you living life to the fullest? How can you better yourself, create a better balance? Stop ignoring or avoiding your weak links, face them head on and strengthen them!
So...what did you figure out? What are your weak links? How are you going to strengthen them?