Monday, July 25, 2011

Bad Spotters and Horrible Form

I thought I'd share some videos to illustrate why it's important to use spotters, use good equipment, and lift with proper form when working out. I was once that embarrassed teenager who got pinned under an attempted bench press because I didn't think I needed a spotter. You can ave a lot of pain and embarrassment by using your brain when you lift weights.

Here is a sample of some textbook horrible lifting form. I don't know what you call that technique, but I had to go ice my lower back after watching this.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I was once at a friend's house and noticed that my friend's dad had a magazine entitled "Walking". My friend teased him for purchasing a periodical about such a simple activity. As easy as walking may be, it is one of the best exercises a person can do because it's an aerobic activity and is also low impact so everyone can do it.

Sometimes I drive to the gym and feel like a hypocrite as I circle the parking lot until a close spot opens up. That's very ironic, but I don't think I'm alone when it comes to being lazy. Over time as a society, we have become more sedentary due to technological advances. These advances are a blessing since they save us so much time, but they can also be a curse when they cause us to neglect our bodies.

When I think about sedentary lifestyles, I am reminded of the movie Wall-E and how everyone was dependent on machines to move themselves around and as a result they were all over weight.

If someone is looking to really improve their conditioning or burn calories faster, then high intensity workouts are a better option than just walking, but for people with injuries and those who are not yet able to handle intense workouts, walking is a step in the right direction. Running may not be as "sexy" or cool as CrossFit, TRX, or triathlons, but it is still a great exercise that you don't need a gym membership for. It's also a great way to relieve stress and enjoy the outdoors.

Look for ways to increase your physical activity by walking more. Take the stairs, park at the far side of the parking lot and go on walks with a spouse or friend.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

10 Tips For A Good Night's Sleep

I've previously addressed the importance of sleep, but I'd like to share some practical ideas on how to improve the quality of your slumber. We spend a good percentage of our lives sleeping, so we might as well make that good quality rest instead of tossing and turning. Here are some tips to help you get a better night's sleep.

10. Try to keep a regular sleep schedule. Consistency in the times you go to bed and wake up can make it easier to sleep. Find a routine that works for you.

9. Turn off TV and electronics a couple hours before retiring to bed. It can take your body an hour or two to unwind, so watching TV or typing on your laptop until your eyes sting and you are exhausted is not a good idea.

8. Take a hot bath or shower to help your muscles relax and ease tension prior to going to bed.

7. Keep distractions down. I've woken up many times from naps like an angry bear when my kids are yelling or making loud noises outside my room. Unplug phones and keep distractions to a minimum. 

6. Sleep at a cooler temperature. We all know how uncomfortable it can be when trying to sleep in hot weather. Lower your thermostat to help you sleep better.

5. Don't drink too much before going to bed. A full bladder will interrupt your sleep and can cause bad dreams.

4. Play calming music and dim your lights prior to going to bed. This can help wind down and transition to retiring to bed.

3. Exercise regularly. People who exercise often report sleeping better through the night. However, exercising to soon before going to bed can keep you up. 

2. Sleep in a dark room. I will sometimes wear something over my eyes if I'm trying to nap during the daytime. It might look silly, but it helps.

1. Invest in a good mattress. I'm not going to do a mattress commercial here, but it makes sense to have a quality mattress and pillow that meets your needs.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What's Your Body Type?

One thing I have noticed over the years is that despite all of us being members of the human race, our bodies can still be very different from each other. People come in all shapes, sizes, builds, and proportions.

The classic three body or somatotypes are listed below, but many people are not just one specific category, but rather a combination of them. I'm not a huge fan of labeling people into such simple classifications, but I don't think it hurts to acknowledge one's basic body type.

Ectomorphs- These are people with thin frames who have a hard time gaining weight. One way people determine if you fit in this category is if you can put your middle finger and thumb around your opposite writs and have them touch or overlap.

Endomorphs- They have a tendency to be heavier and stockier than most people. Their metabolisms are typically slower and they gain weight more easily.

Mesomorphs- This fortunate group is naturally more muscular and have a more athletic build than the general population.

There are also body type classifications I hear women refer to such as apple, pear, or hour glass shaped. These are determined by where you carry your weight. 

How much stock should we put into body types and shapes? It makes sense to address these differences when you are creating a fitness program. If you are a heavier person who gains weight easily then this should be addressed when you are talking about nutrition. It certainly makes sense to acknowledge your body type for how you dress and what kind of appearance you are trying to achieve. 

Your body shape can also be an important factor when it comes to addressing health risks. Apple shaped people who carry excess fat on their abdomen as opposed to their legs and butt are at a higher risk for heart disease.

Many people's perceived ideal body image comes from Hollywood, models, or athletes, but very few people in the general population fit that description or have "ideal" proportions. It's easy to be dissatisfied with the genetics and predispositions we've inherited, but all kinds of body shapes and sizes can be beautiful. Think how boring life would be if everyone looked like fitness models.

Some people can work all they want, but a large framed woman may never look petite. As an ectomorph, I could spend my entire life in the gym and I would never look like a professional bodybuilder. The key is to take good care of your body and train and develop it to your own personal potential.