More “Cardio” is not the answer

It seems to me that “cardio” has become the Penicillin of Fitness.

High blood presure? More Cardio.  Carrying a few extra pounds? More Cardio.  Feeling tired and low on energy? More Cardio.  Gain muscle, get faster, become a millionaire…… all through more cardio.

As I’m sure you’ve guessed by my sarcastic tone cardio will not fix all your problems, infact there a many that average American face that increased cardio will actually make worse.

Cardio is so “over perscribed” simply becasue it’s easy.  It’s easy advice to give and easy to take action on therefor it gets over used.

We should know by now the easy fix is not ususally the best or most effective one.  The changes that lead to long term sustainable results are often more complex and can be difficult to implement.  I’m not try to be a downer just a realist, change is tough.  It is more difficult to take an objective look at lifestyle choices as the cause and fix of any issues we might be having. How much sleep am I getting?  What am I doing to manage daily stress levels?  What is my daily processed food intake?  How much activity am I getting?  How much time do I spend outdoors?  What foods work best with my body (just because someone else calls it “healthy” does not mean it agrees with you)?

In the end more cardio becomes the over simplistic answer to a more complex question.  For the average American (you and me) more cardio can actually be a huge problem.  Most of us are sleep deprived, under nourished and over stimulated; never forget that exercise (as good as it is) is still stress.  What happens when you take someone who is not getting enough sleep, eating food they can’t obtain nourishment from and constatnly at a 11 level freak out at home and work because the big report deadline is on the same day as little Johnny’s soccer game and add more stress to their week?  The math on this one is not hard to do.

The take away her is two-fold;

First, think balance.  When we look at the big picture adding more cardio doesn’t’ fit but to see that we have to zoom out and try to see the whole picture.

Second; Sometimes things are complicated.  We love simple, easy and actionable but life is not always that way and that’s ok.  It’s ok to seek answers and search for truth and it’s ok to get help along the way.  My experience is if a piece of advice can fit into a Twitter post there is probably more to the story and deserves some more diving into.

Yoga Pose Breakdown: Savasana/Corpse Pose

Savasana/Corpse Pose
 
1. Lay down onto your back. Keep neck long and chin tucked. Create space for your underarms to breathe.
2. Let your body feel heavy here. Feet rest towards the corners of your mat and can fall open in opposite directions.
3. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Stay here for 5-10 minutes.
4. To come out roll to your side and curl into a little ball. Don’t rush coming up, take your time.
 
Pose Benefits: Savasana naturally boosts the immune system and restores and relaxes the body’s energy by calming the nervous system. This pose also calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression. Corpse pose also can reduce headaches, fatigue, insomnia, and reduces blood pressure.
 

Deepen your practice at Performance Locker. Our teachers combined bring over 10 years of experience to our studio. Sign up for class online at performancelocker.com/yoga

Sam Samson RYT 200

What is your Criteria for a “Good” Workout?

How do you judge a “good” workout?

What do you look for after the experience to determine if your training was valuable?

Sweaty?

Tired?

Sore?

If that is the case why don’t you come over to my house; the roof of my garage needs to be leveled, my lawn needs to be cut and I need some post holes dug for a fence I want to put in.  I guarantee you will leave sweaty, tired and sore and it will only cost you $75 per hour.

Metrics are important, we want to have the ability to measure the effectiveness of an experience in the gym but choosing the wrong metrics can only give you incorrect info.  Choosing the correct metrics will give you reliable data and feedback while choosing the wrong ones can devalue even the best experiences.

So if sweaty, tired and sore are not effective metrics for judging a fitness experience what are?  In a functional training environment where we are working toward improved movement capabilities how sweaty someone gets simply does not work for us for a number or reasons.  Ability level plays a huge factor, the more advanced my movement skills are the more intensity I can create within an exercise.  For someone who is just learning (or relearning) how to squat or deadlift it does not make sense to push that level of intensity since they are trying to learn the pattern.  How do you even measure “sweat”? Seriously? I sweat when brushing my teeth so it’s guaranteed I’m going to drip buckets every time I step onto the training floor.  My wife not so much, so does that mean that all of my workouts are “better” then hers because I sweat more?

So how do you measure a good workout?  I don’t know if you can honestly.

An effective training program is making improvements over time, it’s not focused on a single workout but each workout exists as a step along the journey.  Along that journey some workouts will be more challenging some more restorative and others more “skill practice”.  We feel a standardized movement assessment that can be easily repeated is the only way to truly measure over time if your workouts (as a whole) are being “effective”.

So instead of looking at each workout and checking the tired, sweaty and sore boxes think more long term and look for experiences that leave you challenged yet not beat up and hungry to return to apply the lessons you learned towards your next experience.

Why Should You Try Boxing?

Boxing Is Fun

Enjoying something is probably the number one reason why anybody ever got good at anything. The one thing boxing has over many traditional fitness exercises is the added element of good old plain FUN! If you ever plan to be successful at anything, it helps if you find the experience enjoyable. Otherwise, it becomes work, becomes a chore, and you’ll quit before you ever get a routine going. This is the problem with many traditional workout routines.

Literally EVERYONE we’ve seen that puts on a pair of gloves for the first time has fun. Hitting the focus mitts becomes a game and they enjoy the challenge. There are so many pieces of equipment in the studio and so many skills to master that boxing never becomes boring. Even after the boxing session ends, clients feel inspired to go home and watch videos online to become inspired by other boxers. There are very few exercises that leave this lasting impression. Can you imagine someone going home and fantasizing about burpees? Give boxing a try and you’ll see what we’re talking about.

Boxing Is Challenging & Great For Your Health 
Many people understand that boxing is challenging but have the perception that boxing is going to war, and they imagine themselves having to throw and absorb punches like Rocky. Let me give it to you straight: that’s not the case at Performance Locker. Our classes are for people who do not want to get hit in the face! You will be physically challenged learning how to move efficiently and effectively, all while hitting real targets (not the air). All of our classes are designed for any ability level and everyone is welcome to try! Boxing improves your cardiovascular system, bone density, and helps to reduce stress.
Boxing Improves Confidence
Boxing is a great confidence booster. The sport molds fighters out of average people.

Boxing is challenging but when you overcome those challenges you will feel so confident in yourself that you can do anything that you set your mind to!

Performance Locker offers boxing on Tuesday’s at 6:30pm – Thursday’s at 12pm –
and Saturday’s at 7am. Boxing gloves provided or you can buy your own on-site.

 
Sign Up for Boxing Right Now  » Click Here to Register! 

*Supporting researched provided via an Article by Johnny N from Expert Boxing

What Does it Mean to be “Functional”?

Functional Training; a phrase that often used in fitness but rarely understood.

What does it mean to be functional?  What seperates a true functional workout from one that adopts this monicker yet fails to live up to it’s promises?

Functional training/exercises or workouts have a direct tie in to basic human movements.

The workouts or exercises strengthen primal movement patterns.  At the advanced level functional training seeks to create efficiency in those primal movement patterns.

We define primal movement patterns as the basic ways that humans explore and experience their environment; crawling/climbing, running/walking and swimming. If something does not “strengthen” one of these patterns it is not a “functional” exercise.  Wait a minute, what about squatting, deadlifting, pulling and pushing?  Don’t worry they are all there. Those are the foundational patterns that allow us to walk, run, climb, etc.

The most effective functional training practices look a lot like sport training; where movement skill are substituted for the sport specific skill.  For example, good tennis players consistently work on the fundamentals.  They seek to master the “simple” aspects of a forehand shot then repeat, repeat, repeat until it becomes automatic.  This way when they are on the court there brain is available for higher level processes such as strategy since it is not being dragged down by the step by step instructions of how to hit the ball.

When we deadlift we are teaching the body to stabilize the lumbar spine and maintain a neutral position before actively flexing and extending the hip.  This one relatively simple joint action is one of the primary building blocks for walking and running, even though the exercise does not look like the end product it still has a direct correlation.  In short it is more often than not that when someone has a fault in their deadlift pattern they also showcase a movement compensation in their walking or running gait.

A true functional training program seeks to break the body down into key joints and look at their ability to perform their preferred tasks.  Certain joints are responsible for mobility and are where “movement” come from while others should be “stable” resisting change in position (or movement) to maintain the bodies structure.  In a functional training program we identify each of these areas and make sure they are doing their jobs and their jobs only.  If they are not we look to “correct” the issue buy selecting exercises or techniques that will help mobilize stuck joints or create improved stability in others.

The final and most important piece of the puzzle is that functional training has to per personalized.  There is no blanket approach here (believe me I’ve been looking).  We are only able to offer someone a truly “functional” program when we are able to address the personal dysfunctions they may have.  Without that personalized data it is impossible to correctly design a program or workout for that (or any) individual.

So where do you go from here?  Come on in to Performance Locker where we can take you through the FMS movement screen and identify what your personalized “functional training” goals are 🙂

Yoga Pose Breakdown: Upward Table Top

Upward Table Top

1. Start in a seated position, bend both knees with soles of the feet firmly planted on the mat. Feet hip distance apart.
2. Place hands behind you, fingers pointed towards your toes, and spread the fingers out. Let both shoulders melt back and lift your heart forward. Stay right there if you are already feeling the stretch.
3. If you wish to deepen the pose inhale engage the core and lift the gluts off the floor until your shoulders, hips, and knees are level like a table top. Stay there for 5 full breaths.
4. Exhale to slowly lower back down onto the mat.
5. Hug your knees into your chest and wrap yourself in a big hug.
6. (Optional) You can lay back and take a few moments for Savasana or Corpse Pose to help your body relax and restore.

Pose Benefits: Upward table top pose stretches the shoulders, chest, and ankles. This pose strengthens the arms, wrists, back, and core.

Common Mistakes: Turning the hands outward. Pushing the ears into the shoulders (do your best to keep the neck long). Sink the hips down in the full version. Caving into the chest.

Deepen your practice follow the link below to register for class:
www.performancelocker.com/yoga/

 Sam Samson RYT 200

Yoga Pose Breakdown: Seated Forward Fold

Seated Forward Fold

  1. Begin seated with legs straight out in front of you and flex through the feet like you’re trying to push your foot flat into a wall.
  2. Inhale lengthen the spine and sweep arms overhead. Reach out through the fingertips and exhale to relax the shoulders.
  3. Inhale to prepare and exhale hinge from the hips as you fold forward. Hands soften to chins, ankles, or around the feet if available. Only go as far as you can keep the spine flat/straight. If the spine curls or rounds back off in the stretch.
  4. Take 5 breaths here and focus on the integrity of your spine. Use inhales to lengthen the back and exhales to melt further into the fold.
  5. To come out safely reach the arms out in front and come back to a tall seated position, hands rest at the heart.

Pose Benefits: Forward bends stretch the hamstrings, spine, and shoulders. This pose can help relieve headaches and stress!

Common Mistakes: Rounding the spine in order to reach the hands closer to the feet. Keeping the feet relaxed when they should be flexed to help stretch the back of the legs & feet.

Like what you see? Click Here to join us for class!

Sam Samson RYT 200

Small Tribe Tid Bits

At PL We Don’t Exercise.. We Train. We Practice. We Move.

Our friends over at StrongFirst did an excellent job describing the difference between exercising and training, “Exercise: Requires motivation, and the willingness to endure something boring. Training: Requires selecting a skill, and the willingness to practice it. Exercise that doesn’t mentally engage you is difficult to stay consistent with. Losing interest is not your fault… You need details to focus on and to continually improve. You need a skill to practice…” In Small Tribe Training that is exactly what we do; we practice skills and learn
how to move functionally. Check out these Small Tribe Tid-Bits to get more out of your next session.

Agility is not just for athletes. The ability to change direction at a high rate of speed is a necessary skill for all humans who wish to live an active lifestyle. The trick to good speed and agility training is to go as fast as you can, not as fast as you can’t. Each individual needs to move at the speed that allows them to maintain the standards of the movements we work on every day.

Learning how to efficiently rotate and generate rotary force is a lesson in linking movements and unity in the body. Too often, workout programs are full of overly simplistic movements that never teach the body how to move as one unit. Unfortunately, it is simply not possible to build functionality by just focusing on one piece at a time.

Are you ready to break the mold? Are you ready to build a life without limits? Know someone who would benefit from secrets your have learned at PL?

Contact us now to schedule your FMS (Functional Movement Screen-Test) from there we will help you find the Membership/Classes that best fit your needs and schedule.

Call 989.884.1702, or Stop-in During Open Tour Hours Wed 11-4, Thurs 1-6, and Fri 12-5 or e-mail sam@performancelocker.com to get started!

Learn More About Training at PL » Click Here

Yoga Pose Breakdown

This Yoga pose breakdown is brought to you by our very own Sam Samson RYT 200hr!

Seated Supine Twist/Lord of the Fishes

1. Begin with both legs out in front of you.
2. Bend right knee and place foot on the inside of the left knee. If you wish to experience a deeper sensation place the foot on the outside of the right knee.
3. Inhale lengthen the spine and wrap the left arm around the right knee opposite hand plants behind you for support.
4. Inhale to lengthen the spine, exhale to deepen the twist. Look over your back shoulder. Take 5 full long breaths here.
5. As you prepare to come out inhale, engage the core and bring torso back to the center. Repeat on the right side of the body.

Pose Benefits: This pose stretches hips, thighs, shoulders, and hamstrings. Twisting postures give the internal organs a much deserved massage. And it feels great after a long day!

Common Mistakes: Slouching/rounding the back once in the twist and crowding the shoulders into the ears. Also, the leg that is extended long on the mat tends to relax when your focused on the twist; instead it should be active to stretch the hamstrings and to stabilize the pose.

Like What You See? » Click Here to Join Us for Class!

Looking at Heart Health from Another Angle

February is national heart health month, a campaign designed to bring awareness to the habits and behaviors necessary to foster and maintain cardiovascular wellness. You have probably seen a number of post or articles this month from various sources telling you to make sure to get 20 minutes of exercises at least 3 times a week (“exercise” defined as activities that increase heart rate for a period of time) or detailing the benefits of strength/resistance training on heart health. All of these things are true and the intention of this information to to provide simple and actionable information to increase your longevity.

The problem with simple approaches is they sometimes leave things out. The simple path can often omit large pieces of the puzzle and leave us with an incomplete understanding of the bigger picture.

When discussing Heart Health one thing that is almost always left off the table is mental well-being. Sure we talk about “stress” and lowing stress is good for your heart but the actions steps toward this endeavor tend to be less actionable and more ambiguous.
In short your mental state has a massive effect on your physical being. We find ourselves in a wold filled with constant stimulation which has been shown time and time again in various studies to stimulate with is called the Sympathetic Nervous System. This none more simply is our “flight or fight response”.

Imagine you are in a room and the fire alarm goes off, this is in essence what it feels like with your sympathetic nervous system kicks in. That rush of adrenaline and extreme focus scanning your environment for danger and assessing the situation. Once the fire alarm goes off everything returns to normal and you begin to feel more relaxed and at ease, this is called your parasympathetic response (the switch that gets your mind and body back into the rest and digest state). What if the fire alarm never goes off? Have you every been in a room with an alarm was going off for far too long, what did that feel like. Notice how you were extremely stressed, agitated and angry?

Our constant stimulation through artificial lights and electronic devices has show to not allow our body to switch out of the sympathetic response, keeping our minds in a steady state of low grade emergency mode. What do you thinks this is doing to your heart?
Hearts like all muscles need to rest, when it is living at the red alert state is never gets to, like any machine parts that don’t get to rest burn out.

So if you are a hard working individual, goal driven professional, athlete, weekend warrior or simply have a stressful job day maybe adding more stress through exercise is not what your heart needs to be healthy. Maybe it’s time to pump the breaks a bit and gets some recovery but flipping the rest and digest switch. How do we do that?

Yoga, foam rolling, massage, increased sleep, less screen time, reading, meditation are some of my favorite methods. All are readily available and a few are free or very low cost. If this is a foreign subject to you it’s ok to get help. I took me a long time working with some really great Yoga teachers for me to finally learn to let go and teach me how to implement some of the yoga principles into my daily life.

Remember the pendulum always has to swing both ways, if you find yourself stuck on one side perhaps its time to find a plan and some guidance to bring things back toward the middle (it can be a really nice place to live 😉