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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

Rest and Recovery for the Fitness Addict

STOP WORKING OUT!! Yes you! You over-caffeinated, push-yourself-to-the-limit, closet A-type personality, fitness disaster-in-waiting. Stop it!

Is this a weird thing for a personal trainer to say? Not really, and here’s why…

We all love to push ourselves to the limit, in life, in fitness and in the gym. But we seem to forget about the body maintenance that goes along with the thrill of pushing it to the edge and chasing fitness goals.  Pushing your exercise limit every day without upkeep is going to lead to injury. Period. Maybe not tomorrow, the next day, or even a year from now… but that major, or nagging, injury will come to haunt you. Unless you are one of those freak individuals (you’re not) who never seems to get injured, you can be left with a nagging injury.

The best ways avoid injury (and keep progressing) when it comes to your fitness: 

  • Have a solid fitness plan with rest periods
  • Yoga or stretch 2-4 days a week
  • Massage
  • Foam Rolling
  • FST (Fascial Stretch Therapy)
  • Cross Training
  • Sleep and recovery

Let’s break down all these points below…

Periodized Training (Have a plan and chart your plan)

  1. Progress things harder every week… gradually.  Whether you are a cardio sweat master or a weight lifting fiend, progression is the key!
  2. Have an ‘off week’ every four-five weeks. This off week is goal dependent, of course, and does not mean you do nothing. It just means you dial it back a notch. After this down week is over you progress through another 4 hard weeks again — just slightly more intense this time.
  3. Have recovery days as well as hard training days put into your plan every week. I have put some suggestions below (yoga, massage and foam rolling) in regards to what I mean by a recovery day.  These are days where the heart rate stays low!
  4. Getting personal training is a great way to have a strict plan with hard weeks and easier weeks… it is their job to know your limits and have a plan in place for you! (If you are in Vancouver stop by Rep1 Fitness, we can take care of this for you!)

Yoga: Plan these days as part of your periodization. Can yoga be a training day? Why not?? If you are so OCD that you can’t take a rest day, then go to a yoga class. This might actually get you to breathe and slow down for an hour.

Massage:  Let your local RMT find those trigger points or dig into those large muscles.  There is nothing quite like being wrung out by a professional after several weeks of hard training… so go get one! I give you permission. You need it and deserve it!  OR…

Foam Rolling: The poor man’s massage. Buy a foam roller and read this Foam Rolling article to know what to do with. Use it pre-workout or post. It’ll hurt but you’ll love it after! (note to you A-types… you have to relax into it and be gentle applying pressure)

FST (Fascial Stretch Therapy): This is the new wave for fitness recovery! The session is designed to re-balance your body as a whole, and decompress your joints before applying a long lasting stretch. It will help you recover between those hard fat-burning or weight-lifting sessions, and get you ready for your next workout.  At Rep1, in Kitsilano, you can chat to Gui about getting a great stretch session or read his blog article where he describes all the reasons for this type of recovery session.

Cross-training:  Cycle,cycle, cycle; run, run, run; and lift, lift, lift. We do what we like and we keep doing what we like. Your body needs change. Not only to keep from over-training (a very nasty word, this one) but to shock the body and progress. It also gives those overused, beat-down muscle groups a chance to rally because you are using them in a different way. After several months of doing your favorite sport/training, switch to something new for a short period. Cycling season is over and you still have the cardio itch? Go hit the Grouse Grind… that’ll scratch that itch for you!

Sleep and recover: There is a reason that major sports teams chart all their players’ sleep patterns: the studies on recovery and performance have been backed up a million times. So you’ve done three awesome workouts this week but you are getting less than six hours sleep a night? Well, we all know that isn’t enough. Your results will not progress and quite possibly will regress if you don’t sleep. Your ride time up Cypress isn’t improving but you’re training hills like a mountain goat? Check your recovery and sleep times.  Also, if you want to really dive into the affect sleep has on performance and on athletes (everyone is an athlete!), there is a great article by Fatigue Science:

5 areas sleep has the greatest impact on athletic performance

At the end of day it comes down to balancing the fine line of fitness and living the rest of your life without injury. If you choose to be the manic fitness person and just ignore the preservation of your body it will catch up with you. Honestly, this is the hardest advice to follow. It seems tough to do but personally I stretch at least 3 days a week and I get a massage at least once a month.  Schedule the time and stick to it… your body will thank you with results.

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!

Hockey, Football, Mountain biking, Etc…

OK….September is here!  We are all back to our busy schedules and fitness routines, hopefully we have kept up our training, or, at the very least stayed active on our summer holidays.  Thankfully I have kept up with my “in gym” training sessions, my shoulder is feeling great and I’m back playing hockey and football while continuing to mountain bike.  Now, there is nothing like on field and on ice training, but my “still” 41 year old body has managed to make it through a weekend of all three activities, which, in part, I credit to my work in the gym.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still sore, but at least I’m not broken and was able to get out and enjoy this incredible view!

Comparison Photo!

We have some walls ripped down around the Rep1 expansion side.  New ones are going in soon.  Here is a comparison photo!  How’s it gonna look when it’s finished??

The First Wall Is Down!

You can see all the way to the back now that the first wall is down… it looks a little rough but the space is big and will be cleaned up soon!

Wedding Plans… Laura Odegaard

Laura had tons of things on her plate leading up to her wedding… including getting her masters!  But she did a strong push in her workouts leading up the big day and the results paid off; as you can see by the photos.  Laura rocks her workouts Monday nights with her sister Brooke (in one of the photos) and both are usually entertaining the whole gym with their humor.  Laura remembered her posture for the photos (so proud)!!!  Excellent!!  The Rep1 crew is happy for you Mrs. Odegaard!

Laura_WeddingLaura_Wedding_3

Future Cat1 Racer

This has been an amazing summer for my kids, not only has the weather been fantastic for them to be outside all day but my daughter has learned to ride her bike. My daughter, “Kitty” watches her brother, “Jackson”, get on his bike everyday and rip around. She is so envious of him. I tried to teach her to ride but it usually ended in some form of an argument. We decided to put her in bike camp to teach her how to ride properly. After her first day at camp, I went to pick her up all I could see what this huge smile across her face. She was so excited that she could ride her bike and could keep up with her brother!!

Everyday I get home from work now we are out riding!! How awesome is that… Look out here comes the future in bike racing.

Click on the link below to see Kitty riding her bike.