Leg Day 2.0

I had a sad, random thought today as I finished my second heavy squatting session of the week:


Obviously, I hope those of you that lift regularly are currently working on your lower body more than once a week. But, what I don’t think people realize is how it’s totally OKAY to perform the squat and deadlift twice a week.  If you feel like you are recovering nicely after these core lifts, you should definitely explore the idea. Your numbers will rise like they never have before.

BUT, with more work in the gym comes more work in the kitchen. Don’t neglect the fact that you will need to feed the beast! Eat more meals, more often. You shouldn’t be hungry. Always be thinking and strategizing of how you are going to get the beast’s next meal. Nutrition is far too often overlooked by people who have fitness goals. Workout as much as you want, but you aren’t getting very far without working hard in the kitchen.

Back to the legs…

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having 4 leg days throughout the week. Hell, squat AND deadlift in the same session! You will be surprised at how good you feel. If I am gone for the weekend, that is the approach I will have during the week to make sure I get my 2 squat and deadlift sessions in. I always squat first, as it is much more tasking on the central nervous system than the deadlift. The squat is obviously a more compromising movement, as well, so you don’t want to fudge around with trying to deadlift beforehand.

Through a 7-day lifting schedule, an ideal leg day spread would be:

Sunday: Squat

Tues: Deadlift

Saturday: Squat and Deadlift

In this case, your lower body days are going to be switched up each week. I, personally, don’t mind that at all. But, I know how some of you meatheads out there are OCD and you get your jocks in a bundle if your schedule if mixed up. If that’s you, you will have to figure out how to spread it evenly. You probably won’t be able to efficiently get 4 lower body days in, but that’s your problem!

One more thought:

Don’t worry so much about assistance exercises, especially with the lower body. I LOVE the glut-ham raise machine, and I spend a lot of time on it, but don’t go overkill. Assistance exercises are just that! Once a week for all of your favorites should suffice, especially if you’re squatting and deadlifting multiple times.

Lastly, switch it up every 6-8 weeks. Don’t go heavy for 6 months, or you will wreck yourself. Switch up assistance exercises, too. Keep the redundancy at a minimum!

Kill it.


Move to the beat of your own drum. 


Punishing Your Body, Part 1: Running

Ah running… the most widely practiced physical activity in the world with nearly two billion people jiggling their way to a body only a mother could love. From those staggering numbers it’s confirmed that we, as an industry, are not even close to where we need to be in terms of strength training frequency.

Let’s be honest, in 2015, it’s pretty damn hard to make CrossFit look like the less shitty alternative to an unsafe and ineffective form of training. Running wins this battle due to the punishment it delivers to your body with each successive step. Each leg pounds into the ground with the force of 4 times your body weight!

I don’t know about your country, but the American infrastructure wasn’t designed to withstand this kind of punishment. The streets deserve better.

Now, I read “Born to Run,” and still to this day it is one of my favorite books of all time. Loved it! It makes perfect sense. Our bodies were made to MOVE. Here is the problem: I don’t know one person that runs with form as good as the Tarahumara tribe, and when Americans aren’t running…they SIT. That’s the reality. That’s our working world, today.

I’ll be the first to admit I love hybrid endurance events and the challenge that they provide for myself. A sense of accomplishment engulfs me after every event. However, I’m not talking about marathons and half-marathons, here. I’m talking these new-found hybrid events such as Tough Mudders, combining strength, endurance, and pure grit. These events bring out the best in people, and it’s awesome to watch. I would never want people to stop participating in those because of injury. The problem lies within the training days leading up to the event.

It is not uncommon for me to have a new client come in and tell me that they are completely at a loss as to why their physical health is so horrible, and their body is just so weak. “Well, ‘Judy,’ what are you doing right now for activities?” — “I run almost every day, that’s why I don’t understand!” Hmmm….

Spinal stenosis, constant SI joint pain, hip pain, limited ankle mobility, stress fractures of the tibia…these are just a few of the issues that are common with “lifelong runners.” The biggest problems we run into with these people are with their spine. The amount of time people spend running with their subpar form causes problems in the SI joint and lower back. Pain in the sciatic nerve will erupt with vengeance if you run for many years with bad form.

In an attempt to save our roadways and orthopedic health, let’s take a deeper look into how running has continued to do absolutely nothing to eradicate the American obesity epidemic while adding to the ever-rising orthopedic dysfunction and injury rates plaguing our questionable medical system.

Running has single-handedly made the presence of pain the norm in an American society that’s struggling to be active. Up to 80% of runners are in pain on any given run, no matter the distance, intensity, or course. If you accept this statistic as “part of the game,” you’re just as much to blame as Phil Knight and the injury rainmakers over at Nike. Time to question your own beliefs and help evolve our poorly educated society, one runner at a time.

An ideal running stride is as rare as the thousand-pound squat. Just because you can run doesn’t mean you should. Without the ability to achieve proper biomechanics, your running is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Would you squat if you couldn’t keep from drawing attention from you atrocious form? I think not.

If you’re truly passionate about running, and it’s the only thing that provides an emotional release for you, that’s your prerogative! Just like anything else, try and use moderation. And for goodness sake, STRENGTH TRAIN! It’s just as good for your cardiovascular system and actually provides a benefit for the rest of your body, instead of deteriorating it! Need to lose weight? Running isn’t the only answer. Hit the elliptical and put on some lean mass by moving weights! The elliptical won’t beat down your body like the treadmill, and resistance training will add lean mass that is essential for raising your metabolic rates and sustaining any weight loss that you achieve.

There are a few fitness “trends” that punish our body, but running takes the cake.

Stay tuned for Punishing Your Body, Part 2.


Move to the beat of your own drum. 

Sitting is Death

Mobility and fitness people alike have a saying: Sitting is death.  Sitting causes muscle tightness and inhibits your ability to reach peak athletic performance.  For those that spend 6-8 hours of their day sitting in a chair, some of these may look familiar: back pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, and carpel-tunnel pain after sitting on a plane, in a car, or at your desk. 

The problem is, we can’t avoid sitting. It’s become a construct of modern society. So, how do we avoid or reduce the havoc wreaked by extended periods of sitting?

It starts with how you sit. Sitting correctly is one of the most difficult things you will encounter on an everyday basis. Maintaining a rigid spine is the most important part of sitting. To do this, you need to organize yourself while standing and tighten your abs about 20% (2 on a scale of 1-10).  While sitting, keeping this 20% tension in your abs is key to maintaining that rigid spine.  

Keeping your abs engaged at 20% can be extremely taxing, especially for long periods of time. Research indicates that it’s not muscular strength, but muscular endurance, that dictates loss of spinal position.  Example: tweaking your back at the end of a run or a workout because fatigue causes your core to relax and the spine is no longer braced.  

In order for it to be possible to maintain a rigid spine while sitting all day is to stand up and restart the position every 10-15 minutes. If you don’t reorganize the spine this often while sitting, your back will round and the core will relax. It may be a pain in the ass, but if you want your body to heal itself and reach performance goals, you have to do the work. Sacrifices have to be made to be the best human being you can be.

Another tip is to not stay in the same seated position while in front of your desk all day. You can kneel down in front of the computer for a little while to open up your hips, walk while on the phone, or stretch yourself out at the desk.  

Many people will try to brace their spine while already in the sitting position because they just realized how poor their posture is…we have all done this.  Once you have taken a seat, your glutes go on vacation. This adds additional stress to the spine and makes it difficult to stabilize your pelvis in a neutral position.  So, failing to address the bracing sequence before sitting down, not keeping the belly tight, or rounding or overextending your spine once seated makes fixing your seated position very difficult. When you try and flatten your back from a seated position, you are more than likely only going from a flexed position to an overextended one.  

If you’re hanging out in a position that’s compromising your posture, you will continue to experience the same consequences. No physician, chiropractor, or holistic doctor can permanently remedy your issues that stem from this.  That said, getting an ergonomic chair or using some kind of lumbar support will definitely give your lower back a break and put you into a more conducive posture.  Keeping that core tensioned while sitting will take lots of practice, but it will soon become instinctive. Give it a go and pony up!




Move to the beat of your own drum.

What type of exercise gains are you looking for?

When people hit the gym, most will just pick a machine or a weight that feels right and do repetitions until they feel it’s enough. If you want to get where you’re going fast, then there are guidelines that you need to follow when doing resistive exercise!

So, what are you looking for?

Hypertrophy (muscle mass increase, “get ripped”): do a total of 8-10 exercises and 3-6 sets of each with 8-12 repetitions per set. Rest periods should be no longer than 120 seconds between each set. This allows for some muscle recovery, but keeps them fatigued at the same time. How many exact sets and reps you do will depend on the type of lift, how experienced you are, and what muscles you’re working. It’s a safe bet to stay in the 3-4 set range on all exercises. 

Strength (making big strides in overall muscle strength): 3-6 exercises, 5+ sets, and 1-5 repetitions. The strength cycle relies on moving HEAVY weight and doing high set numbers with low repetitions (because the weight is so heavy). Rest periods in the strength phase should be at least 3-5 minutes to allow for maximum recovery. This cycle would include maxing out in all of the large muscle groups: bench press, squat, deadlift. 

Endurance: 10-12 exercises, 1-2 sets, 12-25 reps. This phase is perfect for endurance athletes who want to keep muscle tone. Endurance lifts won’t typically make anyone put on a significant amount of muscle mass; therefore, no change in body weight. Lifts that include 25 reps would be the leg press. 

Power: Power is only necessary for athletes that will need explosiveness in their respective sport. These types of exercises would include plyometric (jumping) work and taking conventional lifts and implementing an explosive technique. For example: using light weight on the bench press or squat and having a slow eccentric movement with an explosive concentric movement. So, lowering the bar down slowly and exploding upwards. Power training will result in significant gains for athletes.

All of these phases should be used by experienced lifters. If you are hitting the weights 4-5 times a week, you may want to use 3-4 week cycles for each phase. With proper nutrition, seeing gains should be a snap! Those that just want to be in the gym a couple times a week to resistance train should choose what fits them best and stay in that range. Most people will find the hypertrophy or endurance phases best for their needs!


Move to the beat of your own drum.

Eliminate Low Back Pain

Low back pain affects 80% of American adults for a variety of different reasons. The majority of these reasons are due to functional (muscle) problems, rather than structural (bone) problems. The main muscular imbalance that causes low back pain is in the hip adductors and abductors. Here are 3 exercises that, when done 3 times a week, can eliminate back pain. 

Video courtesy of Chad Marschik of Body Symmetry via freefitnessvideos.com!




The Obesity Epidemic and Physical Activity

To understand why obesity has been running rampant in our society, we must understand the roots of it and why it is prevailing. Today, we see a new fitness club chain popping up on every commercial street corner, yet obesity rates are higher than ever. There are two major factors that contribute to obesity: over-nutrition and under-expenditure. Portion sizes are larger than ever and eating is always part of entertainment. Decreased daily expenditure is a result of transportation, manual labor, and entertainment changes. Humans evolved by living in a world of scarcity. To survive, they developed the habit of eating everything that tasted good whenever they could find it.  Early diets consisted of fruits, shoots, nuts, tubers, and vegetation–all low in calories and took constant calorie burning just to find the nourishment. Fruits were highly desirable, so we learned to seek fructose and glucose (sugar). I guess you could say fruit was the very first “guilty pleasure.” When meat finally came along, humans increased in physical size (along with our brains) and we became a muscular race. 

The point: our bodies evolved in an environment where food was scarce and movement was required. We now find ourselves in an environment where food is abundant and movement is optional. 

Physical activity is no longer a must for us to survive as a race. We sit in a desk, collect the paycheck, and then go home and sit in the recliner. Now…for some, this is not true. Are those people obese? Probably not. Some people don’t have the option and sitting in a desk is how a lot of people make a good living these days. Which is fine! We just have to make up for that sitting that we do! For my generation, it has been predicted that (on average) we will not live longer than our parents do. For all of human history, this has never happened. The average lifespan has always gone up. This is extremely alarming to me, and it should be to you, too! The amount of incidents of Type II diabetes already occurring are staggering for people my age. Physical activity plays an important role in all of this and cannot be downplayed. It is not enough to just eat healthier, although that is a great start. 30 minutes a day of physical activity has shown great improvements in body composition in sedentary individuals. This is ANY kind of physical activity! This is a great goal to start with if you are currently inactive. Those that get 1 hour or more of physical activity a day have shown even larger jumps. So, if you don’t have time to hit the gym every day, just start by getting that 30 minutes first. LEARN to LOVE being active. Most adults who are sedentary and/or obese had a negative experience associated with exercise at some point in their lives. If we can eliminate our hate for exercise, we can help push forward to slowing the inactivity and obesity epidemic. It doesn’t matter if you’re overweight or not; physical activity and exercise reduces the risk for all types of diseases! And not to mention it makes us happier by releasing our “happy hormones” into the brain!  

If eating healthy is a constant struggle, and does not seem to be changing anytime soon, start by being active. Get to that number of minutes a day and see how you feel. Having good nutrition is a close second place, but being fit and active always comes first. That may be a shock to some, but it’s true! In one of my professor’s words: “its better to be fit and fat, than to be unfit and skinny.” Most of the time, eating healthier will follow; just as it did for me. If you’re already active and doing well, you’re awesome; now set more goals! Never be satisfied. Find motivation in something or someone that you love and care for. I hope this inspires! 

Have a good rest of the week!

This weekend I will be piggy-backing off of this post with the next post!

Coming this weekend: Sugar and its role in childhood obesity.


Move to the beat of your own drum.

New Year’s Fitness Resolutions

There are tons of new year’s resolutions out there that are kicking off in a fitness and nutrition fashion. The health clubs are jammed packed, and the fresh markets are getting plenty of business from consumers. Now, we all know 90% of these fitness resolutions will only last a month or two, if that. Why? Unreasonable and irrational goals. A resolution that includes things such as taking bread out of your diet and hitting the gym 6 days a week are things that aren’t going to work unless you are a seasoned fitness guru. 

Instead, make some goals that go step-by-step. The resolution that you make at the beginning of the year doesn’t have to be the same next month. Make the gradual climb to be where you want to be. The biggest mistake people trying to get into shape make is overloading themselves, and then realizing that they are just too wiped out. Thus, fitness becomes evil and something that is associated with pain. If you have not been physically active in quite some time, working out may be very uncomfortable at first, especially aerobic exercise. Trust me, it gets better and if you take it step by step, eventually it becomes a release and something you can’t wait to do. A couple of years ago, aerobic exercise was not in my vocabulary and I thought I could do without it. WRONG. I was becoming overweight because all I was doing was hitting the weights and eating whatever I wanted. Cardio changed my world. Hell, I ran 4 miles this morning and it was 15 degrees out. Make yourself some realistic goals TODAY and change your world. You don’t necessarily need a gym membership! I worked out at home with two pairs of dumbbells, a yoga mat and block, a resistance band, and my two feet. I eliminated certain eating habits, got off protein powder and onto the right Advocare supplements, and lost 30lbs in 90 days using P90X. Those 12 DVDs were my new year’s resolution, and it changed everything for me. 

Here are some reasonable starting new year’s resolutions:

– limit yourself to 1 soda/day or stop buying soda altogether (you will be AMAZED at changes that come when you drop soda)

– get 30 min of physical activity everyday (this can be anything that includes movement!)

– lift 1-2 times a week (women need to lift weights, too!…building muscle increases all metabolisms!)

– walk/jog/run 2-3 times a week (where you start can depend on where you are now with your fitness level)

– cut out simple things that are BAD for you (chips, hot dogs, candy, fast food)

– start buying fruit and including one vegetable when you decide to cook at home

As said before, these can and should increase as the year goes on. If you do little things like this, you will not be disappointed. I didn’t ultimately shed 40+ lbs, increase muscle mass, and lower blood fats by taking a pill and sitting on my butt playing video games. EARN IT!


Move to the beat of your own drum.