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.

Jared

Move to the beat of your own drum. 

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Body-Water Manipulation: Getting a “lean” look

This post would normally be geared towards physique and bodybuilding athletes. But, since I’m probably not reaching many of those with these posts at this point in my career…I’m going to hope it can be applied to someone who is hitting the beach sometime soon, and is feeling like our ancestors have doomed their body into packing on some body insulation for the winter months.

Let’s be honest with ourselves: If there was a way to look your absolute best while on your Christmas vacation getaway on the beaches of sunny Florida, we would all want to know the secret. Right? Well, what if there was a way?

Bodybuilders, fitness athletes, and weight classed athletes are masterful manipulators of fluid balance in the body. In the case of physique athletes, water manipulation enhances the appearance of muscularity. By reducing extracellular fluids, less water rests between skeletal muscles and the skin; the muscles appear more prominent and the body appears leaner.

Although not all of us are considered “athletes,” this doesn’t mean we can’t follow the general guidelines to get the leanest and most aesthetically pleasing look out of our bodies. Be sure to note that this is NOT a permanent look you are shooting for here. You are simply going for what bodybuilders are going for leading up to a competition. They have to impress the judges, you just want to impress…well, everyone, I guess.

The prep starts 8 days out (so, maybe some of you are 8 days away from being on a beach? I do understand this post should have been done earlier, and I apologize.).

Day 1 and Day 2: 

1. Double your water intake. If you’re drinking 32oz a day on the regular, drink 64oz today. This process of increased water intake leads to an increase in urinary fluid losses.

Continue this until Day 3.

Days 3, 4, 5, AND 6:  

1. Double your water intake AGAIN. Now, you’ll drink 4 times your normal intake. If you started at 32oz, you’ll now drink 128oz.

2. Decrease your carbohydrate intake. For most people, this means eating around 50-100 grams of carbohydrate per day. By doing this, you’ll begin to lose muscle glycogen as well as 3-4 grams of water per gram of glycogen lost.

3. Increase sodium intake by actively salting your meals and/or even adding small amounts of salt to your drinking water. By doing this, you’ll trigger your system to start actively excreting lots of both salt and water.

Continue this until Day 7.

Day 7: 

1. Drop your water intake fourfold. For example, if you’re now taking in 128oz per day, drop back to 32oz. Since the body has grown accustomed to excreting large amounts of fluid, and adjustments take a few days to catch up, this sudden drop means a negative water balance. In essence, you’ll be temporarily dehydrating the body by forcing it to lose more water than it takes in.

2. Increase your carbohydrate (CHO) intake. For most, this means eating two to four times what they have been eating for the last few days. So, if you’ve been eating 50-100 grams of CHO per day, increase your intake to 200-400 grams. By doing this, your body will supercompensate muscle glycogen stores, filling out the muscles with stored glycogen as well as drawing some water into the intracellular spaces. This means that you’ll look more muscular and leaner at the same time.

3. Finally, decrease sodium intake by avoiding all sodium. Cut all extra salt out of your diet and avoid foods higher in sodium. The body has become accustomed to excreting large amounts of sodium. It will temporarily continue this. The sodium leaving the body, will draw additional water from the body.

Day 8: AKA 24 hours until “contest”

1. Drop your water intake again by 50%. For example, if you’re now drinking 32oz per day, drop down to 16oz per day. This second drop will ensure that additional water is lost from the body as excretion rates should still be high.

2. Maintain your increased CHO intake, further filling up muscle glycogen and drawing any remaining extracellular fluid into your intracellular spaces.

3. Keep your sodium low.

4. Continue this for 24 hours or so.

Please Remember: This prep is meant for physique athletes, and immediately after final judging, these athletes will load up with any and all kinds of food, and will hydrate their body. DO NOT continue this final stage for any longer than 24 hours. You will dehydrate your body too extensively and will begin to feel week and possibly nauseous. So, please don’t be naive and think you can continue the final stage and continue to look and feel better and better. That’s not how this works. Enjoy that day or two looking your best on the beach.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Jared

Move to the beat of your own drum.

LEG DAY

Building muscle hypertrophy in the lower-half is something most fitness enthusiasts take seriously–yet many struggle with. 

A lot of the struggle comes from having bad form and not targeting the right areas. One slight shift or translation of the hips/knees can completely alter an exercise into something that it wasn’t meant to be. A deadlift can become a squat very easily without a precise idea of what your whole body is supposed to be doing. This is the sole reason I love full-wall mirrors in a studio/gym. 

Some may just have no idea what exercise is supposed to target what muscle…which is completely normal for beginner and novice lifters. 

I would like to offer up some lower body exercises that I do on my leg days (yes, “DAYS,” not just “day”) that you may have not come across or thought of. 

Good Mornings

The good morning is primarily a hamstring exercise that also promotes hip mobility. Hip mobility is something that is SO, SO important, yet many fail to have the proper movement we need for the long haul. This exercise is a barbell exercise, but you could also use a body bar–which is just a shorter version of a barbell that is pre-weighted and not meant to have plates stacked on it. Another unique twist is to use a thick power band, looping it under your feet and onto your upper back. The most important points when performing this movement: 1. Have a slight bend in the knees before initiating the first movement. 2. Think of driving your butt back first, rather than bringing the chest down. 3. Keep your back flat, core contracted, and toes on the ground. The Good Morning is highly underrated because of its looks, but never judge a book by its cover–because this exercise can directly improve your deadlift numbers and technique. 

Youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iycq-kJann0 

Box Skateboarders

There isn’t much to say about this exercise. Its primarily a single-leg, quadricep exercise, with the usual benefits of a squatting motion. I love unilateral exercises due to the indirect core workout you can receive while performing them. The skateboarder is no different. Its essentially a single-leg squat, while adding height and a “pedaling” motion of the opposite leg. The skateboarding motion gives you a sense of rhythm…that’s the best I could come up with. 

FFV Link: http://freefitnessvideos.com/exercise_detail.php?exerciseID=38

Elevated Single-Leg Calf Raise

I’ll be the first to admit, I love working my calves. I don’t need high heels to flaunt them, either. With shorts season on the way, jump on the “anti-chicken-leg” bandwagon. This is the best calf exercise I use (besides the seated calf-raise, which calls for an actual machine). The wooden plank in the video is a homemade calf-raise plank, but almost any elevated surface will do just fine. The only necessity is that your heel needs enough drop room to get a full stretch on the down-movement. I add a single heavy dumbbell and hold it on the same side of the working calf. Be sure to “draw” out the exercise and really hike that heel up on each rep. Full extension will get those cows mooing. 

FFV link: http://freefitnessvideos.com/exercise_detail.php?exerciseID=532

Hip Series

The Hip Series is a three-part exercise that is targeting the external rotators and glutes. Every single client I have come across has weak hips. I can’t stress this enough: If you don’t train your hips, they WILL NOT hold their own and will definitely not become stronger. All day, every day, we spend our time moving in one plane–the sagittal plane (moving forward in a straight line). Your hips have virtually no impact on moving in the sagittal plane, which is why long distance runners will tend to have the tightest illiotibial (IT) bands known to man, and extremely weak external rotators. Pay close attention to detail in this video provided by freefitnessvideos.com, because one subtle movement can take the focus off of the hips. Also: YES, the hips and butt go hand-in-hand, so focus on these to achieve that Jen Selter commode-kisser. 

FFV link: http://freefitnessvideos.com/exercise_detail.php?exerciseID=650

Obviously, my favorite lower body exercise of all time has to be the old-fashioned barbell squat. With fantastic combinations of strength and mobility, there is nothing that trumps it. So, if you are already squatting–squat on–because you’re doing it right. 

 

Moo.

 

Jared

 

Move to the beat of your own drum.