Categorized as: How To

Do I need a fitness tracker?

 

           Fitness tracking is not new!  ‘Back in the day’ there were books you could buy that supplied programs (for running, weightlifting, cycling, etc) and gave you charts to track your progress… with a pen!!!  But as we moved out of the era of the chisel and stone and into the 2010+ years, fitness everything can be tracked with the touch of a button, or even by just walking with a watch on your wrist.  What do you actually need to follow, or track, when it comes to personal exercise? Why is it important… or not?

           Consistency is the key to your exercise program.  Good days, bad days and in-between days are all important for you to show up and do something!  Tracking your activity/intensity level is another way to keep that consistency going. This just isn’t for fat loss but also for strength training.   

           Some people just track ‘steps’, and if they workout in a gym that day it usually helps increase their step number.  This is your base level of tracking but should not be discounted; hit your numbers every day and see results! Remember this will give you results for your aerobic exercise.  

DO MORE THAN JUST RECORD YOUR STEPS:

 

           But those ‘steps’ are just one piece of the puzzle… how hard did you workout that day?  A heart rate monitor combined with a step, or kms, tracker will also show you how many calories you are ripping through when you are doing a heavy sweat.  The HARDER you work, or the longer the duration, the more you burn fat! So, whether it is steady state, intensity intervals or even group fitness, the heart rate monitor will reflect what you are burning.  This calorie count, along with your step count will give you some very satisfying numbers to add to your daily life.  Blazing through 750 calories and 8,000 steps is a solid justification for that glass of wine!  (life is about balance people!)

          Working with a certified personal trainer is the ultimate fitness tracker!!!  This is a person who goes through all your peaks and valleys with you and they see the progress.  Your fitness coach will know your initial struggles and the victories that you have had along the way.  There should be a fitness assessment and record of your initial fitness values. Whether is range of motion, cardio, or strength you will know ‘where you came from’ when it comes to working in the fitness centre.  If you are in Vancouver and looking for personal training please stop by our fitness facility if you want your progress charted!

         Fitness tracking is here to stay!  There is not a bike ride I go on without tracking my km’s, my average speed, and even the wattage I am pushing into the pedals.  There is not a workout that my personal trainers haven’t designed for my needs and goals. I’m addicted to the numbers and if you are into fitness you should be too!  It will keep you honest and give you the consistency you need to keep progressing. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Getting better!

How To: Ring Muscle Up

Curious what the proper form looks like during a Ring Muscle Up? Jamiel shows us his technique! Now that is impressive… #FocusFriday #FlexFriday

How To: Increase Pull Up Strength

If you’re like trainer Krista, and looking to increase your pull-up strength, try focusing on the slow eccentric (negative) portion of the movement. Avoiding swinging or bouncing during the exercise helps prevent injury and strengthen the connective tissue around the joints involved in the movement. #FocusFriday #FlexFriday

How To: Lunge W/ Single Leg Deadlift

Krista from Rep1 recommends this combination of a lunge, right into a single leg deadlift to fire up the backside and challenge your balance! 10-15 reps, then switch legs. #FocusFriday

How To: Ab Wheel Rollout

An Ab Wheel Rollout perfectly executed by #Rep1 Trainer, Jamiel! Work those abs and keep your core strong with this exercise! #FocusFriday

Foam Rolling

If you are a gym rat and have been for the past decade, you’ve noticed a change in the gym. People have been starting to use this weird roller and grimacing while sitting on it. You are probably aware of the name of this practice: foam rolling or self myo-fascial release (SMR). But why are people doing it if it hurts so much?

WHAT IS FOAM ROLLING?

  • Foam rolling, or SMR, is a fancy term for self massage to release muscle tightness or trigger points. It can be performed with rollers, Theracane, trigger point balls or even your bare hands.
  • Trigger points are “knots” (a bunch of overactive muscle fibres) that can be found in the muscle. It is very easy to find them: they hurt under pressure. A common example is the tenderness you feel when you put pressure on some specific area of your IT band (side of your thigh).

WHY SHOULD YOU SPEND TIME ON THE ROLLER?

There are many reasons why, here are the most common:

  • foam rolling can assist in releasing trigger points and breaking up adhesions and scar tissue.
  • foam rolling increases the blood flow in the muscle.
  • foam rolling forces the muscle to relax. It stops the overactive muscle from starting the movement and allowing the under-firing muscle to work properly. This gives you a short window of time where you can teach your body a proper movement pattern. As you probably guessed, this is my favourite reason.  An example would be the client that performs push-ups with a shoulder shrug: chances are the upper trapezius are overactive, and start before the rhomboids can kick in, releasing the upper traps with SMR and stretching allow you to perform a proper push up (article coming soon).

  • I like to use rolling as a compliment to stretching. Imagine an elastic band with a knot in the middle, if you pull on it, the elastic stretches but the knot doesn’t. Foam rolling allows you to “untie” the knot before stretching, making your stretching session more efficient.

HOW NOT TO DO IT

  1. do not simply roll back and forth. It takes longer to get the relaxation that you are going for
  2. Make sure not to roll the same body part every day: you will be rolling your muscle/tendon to a pulp, creating dysfunction, and increasing the chances of injury.

HOW TO DO IT

There are two techniques that I like to use:

  1. find a tender spot and hold for a while (usually 30 seconds). You want to hold the tender spot until the pain disappears. I don’t like to give a number because it adds tension/stress to a practice that is designed to actually relax you. I like to tell my clients to breathe deeply while rolling, inhale through the nose, and exhaling completely through the mouth. This helps with the relaxation. The more relaxed you are, the quicker the pain will go.
  2. find a tender spot, and then stretch/contract the muscle. This is a more “aggressive” technique. Yes, it is my pick! One example of this method is rolling your quads (front of the thigh), then curling the leg as you would do in a hamstring curl 3 times.

A few muscles that could typically use some SMR love:

  • Calves
  • Quads
  • Hip external rotators
  • Lats
  • Rhomboids
  • Pecs

Let’s recap:

  • make sure you spend some time rolling before or after your work out, it can really help you stay injury free
  • roll out different muscle groups, and make sure you don’t always do the same spot.
  • do some stretching after to make sure the knot is completely released

How To Do Chin Ups

The Why and How of Proper Chin Ups

There is nothing more impressive in a gym than a person who can rip off perfect chin ups and make it look easy. If you have spent time in a fitness facility it is something we have all struggled with at one point. The jealousy of someone who can have great form and do over 10 chin ups is something we have all known. How did that guy, or girl, make doing chin ups look so easy?? How do I do that myself? Why should I do that? Well, here’s your explanation and here’s your plan. Stick to this program and not only see your strength go up but your waistline go down!

Why you should do them:

-Chin ups are a compound exercise: more than one joint is moving and therefore it uses lots of muscles… which equals more bang for your buck! This exercise targets the latissimus dorsi muscles of your back, but also involves a number of muscles in your arms, shoulders and chest, including your posterior deltoids, triceps, biceps and lower and middle trapezius.

-They are extremely convenient and are one of the most simple (but hard) exercises to do. You also reach your max very quickly, meaning they can be used in a superset and allow you to save time.

-Fat loss: Lots of muscles involved does mean that you will burn more calories in a shorter amount of time: they increase your basal metabolic rate (you burn even more fat even when you are sleeping).

-They are one the best core exercises around as your abs are fighting the pull of your lats to keep your rib cage from flying off your chest. It is not rare to have sore abs for days after a chin up work out

Technique:

Grab a straight bar, get your feet off the floor, and lift yourself up. Don’t over think it, just do it!

There are few rules though:

1: if you are kipping, it is not a chin up

2: if you are not fully extending your arms, it is not a chin up (except if you have an injury, but then, maybe chin ups are not for you)

3: if your clavicle doesn’t touch the bar, it is not a chin up

4: if you move your legs, it is not a chin up either (you can bend your knee at the starting point, but the leg position should not change throughout the exercise)

Program: 10 chinups in 6 weeks

To follow this program you need to be able to do at least 3 chin ups. Here is how the program works, first you will be doing THREE chin ups, rest (or work on something else -hint, hint: superset), then go on to the next set: TWO chin ups, rest, then ONE chinup, rest and finally ONE chin up. On the following day, you are going to add one rep in the following manner:

Week 1

Day 1: 3-2-1-1

Day 2: 3-2-1-1

Day 3: 3-2-2-1

Day 4: 3-3-2-1

Day 5: 4-3-2-1

Day 6: off

Day 7: off

Week 2:

Day 1: 4-3-2-1-1

Day 2: 4-3-2-1-1

Day 3: 4-3-2-2-1

Day 4: 4-3-3-2-1

Day 5: 4-4-3-2-1

Day 6: off

Day 7: off

Week 3:

Day 1: 5-4-3-2-1

Day 2: 5-4-3-2-2

Day 3: 5-4-3-3-2

Day 4: 5-4-4-3-2

Day 5: 5-5-4-3-2

Day 6: off

Day 7: off

Week 4:

Day 1: 6-5-4-3-2

Day 2: 6-5-4-3-3

Day 3: 6-5-4-4-3

Day 4: 6-5-5-4-3

Day 5: 6-6-5-4-3

Day 6: off

Day 7: off

Week 5:

Day 1: 7-6-5-4-3

Day 2: 7-6-5-4-4

Day 3: 7-6-5-5-4

Day 4: 7-6-6-5-4

Day 5: 7-7-6-5-4

Day 6: off

Day 7: off

Week 6:

Day 1: 8-7-6-5-4

Day 2: 8-7-6-5-5

Day 3: 8-7-6-6-5

Day 4: 8-7-7-6-5

Day 5: 8-8-7-6-5

Day 6: off

Day 7: off

Test yourself at the end of the week 6, and VOILA you should now be able to do 10 chin ups.

What if you can’t do 3 chin ups?

If you are not currently able to do one pull up, here are a list of exercises you can do:

Lat pull down:

the easiest one, make sure to train the grip that you will be using for the chin up.

Do 5 sets of 5 reps with the maximum weight you can use with proper form.

Negative pull ups:

use a chair, a bench or jump to the top position, slowly lower yourself, the descent should take 10seconds, then repeat 5 times

ISO hold:

use a chair, a bench or jump to the top position, hold for 10 seconds, rest for 90 seconds then repeat 5 times. I personally like this exercise better than the negative pull ups.

Band: use a pull up band to assist you in doing pull ups. You can use the same program described in this article with the band

So you can do 10 chin ups, now what?

Side to side pull ups:

if you are able to do 10 chin ups, try the side to side chin ups:

pull yourself up, then pull yourself to one side and switch. Do 3-5 sets of 5-8 reps

Weighted chin ups:

simply hold a weight with your feet or a dip belt and do 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps

One arm braced on the side:

progression toward the single arm chin. Hold the bar with one hand, and use the other hand to stabilize yourself in the door frame or the squat rack

Single hand chin-up:

grab the bar with one hand and lift yourself up 🙂

21 Chins:

Lift yourself up, then lower yourself halfway down, and repeat 7 times. After the 7th rep, lower yourself all the way down and lift yourself halfway up, repeat 7 times. When you finish the seventh rep, you do 7 full range-of-motion chins. I don’t think there is anything special about the number 7, it is probably just gym tradition, but it burns so it must be good!

Challenge:

Who will be the first person doing a set of 21 and sending us a video as proof? The first person to do so will get a high 5 from me, and a huge amount of respect from the Rep1 team!