Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fitness Essentials: Sifting Through Garbage To Find The Gold

        "It's not the daily increase, but the daily decrease. Hack away the unessential." - Bruce Lee 

  The world of fitness is a vast and confusing place. Every single day we're bombarded by countless new workout fads, "miracle supplements", and new pieces of fitness equipment that keep getting stranger and stranger. Seriously, have you seen those kangaroo boots? WTF?

                                                              Yep, these exist ... 

  It's not hard to see why so many people end up frustrated with a serious lack of results. After all, you're being hit with wave after wave of misinformation and contradicting points of view on a daily basis. "Trainer X" preaches a program that is in direct contradiction to  "Trainer Y". You read an article on how fats like butter are actually healthy for you, but your doctor is telling you to reduce your fat intake to help lower your cholesterol.How in hell are you ever going to get the results you want when you're not even sure where to start or what information to put into action?!

 My suggestion to those of you struggling with all of the "info" out there today is this ... stick to the basics and strip away the rest.

- Eat a lot of veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds and other plant life

- Eat quality protein with each meal (chicken, beef, steak, pork, fish, eggs, duck, lamb etc.)

- Cook at home so you know what's going into your food

- Eat when you're hungry, stop before you're stuffed

- Avoid processed foods, grains, sugars, and deserts

- Drink lots of water. Avoid soda, fruit drinks, and too much juice.

- Keep alcohol to a moderate amount, avoid beer and stick with spirits mixed with soda water or water

- Always warm up before your workout.

- Stretch often.

- Workout, at least 3 times per week using resistance training. This can be your bodyweight or using weights. If you don't know how to use your bodyweight, check out "The Bodyweight Solution" for ideas and instruction.

- Base your workouts around total body, multi joint movements. It doesn't even need to be complicated. Make sure you're squatting, pulling, and pushing at the very least. There's multiple variations of these exercises you can use, choose a variation or weight that's tough for you. Which brings me to the next point ....

- Master a certain weight, or movement and then move on to a more advanced movement or weight. Try setting up your workout with your three basic movements (squat, pull, push) 3-4 sets, 8-10 reps, 60 seconds of rest between sets. Perform all the sets and reps for one exercise before moving onto the next exercise. Once you can do 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps without too much trouble, it's time to move onto a greater weight or harder bodyweight progression.

- Move quickly at least once a week. This means run sprints, jump rope, or do tabata intervals with burpees or battle ropes etc. Just make it short, and make it intense.

- Get quality sleep, rest, don't over train. Listen to your body, if you're tired or stressed just relax.

- Move often. This means walk places, take the stairs, hang from bars or sit in your squat position. Play sports, play with your kids, or play with your dog. Who cares! Just move.

  It's really that simple. The basics always remain true, and some of these would just seem like common sense ... something that's not always so "common" these days. No one got fat from eating real food, moving more often, challenging their strength, and avoiding shitty food. Keep it simple.

  If you want to get lean, build strength, improve your movement, and be healthier, just follow these basic guide lines. Everything else out there is icing on the cake, it's fluff, it's all adding onto these basics. Stick with your basics, and then develop on them. In time you'll be able to make your program as intricate/complicated or as basic as you like.

- Tim



Monday, August 11, 2014

Quick Thoughts: Everything In Moderation

We have a society that enjoys living by the "if a little is good, then more is better" mentality. This is a flawed method of thinking when it comes to most things in life, including your fitness program. We need balance, we need moderation in almost every aspect of our life in order to be truly healthy. For example ...

 Not training at all leads to becoming weak, stiff, over weight, poor posture, lack of mobility, a host of illnesses and inability to efficiently move your body.

 Training too often and obsessing over your program can lead to over training, avoiding social situations, basing your life around your workouts, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and an unhealthy obsession with training.

 We need night/day, hot/cold, work/rest ... yin/yang. We need balance. Everything has a balance, your training should as well. Think about focusing on making your training about longevity, sustainability, and movement. Make it about balance. Make fitness fit into your life, and not the other way around.

- Tim



Monday, August 4, 2014

Quick Thought: Congruency In Training Methods

Quick thought I had today, or really I've been thinking about this in many ways for a while.

 When we look at any discipline (dance, martial arts, or even fitness) we'll see methods, practices, and movements that show up in all of them. Things that are congruent, things that are essential. 

 I personally think that those movements, practices, and methods make up the basics for human movement and should be looked at carefully. Time doesn't lie, if it reins true in multiple methods of movement or exercise, there's probably a damn good reason.

 For example, squatting, pushing, pulling, midline stability and back bending can be found in just about every method of combat or movement. Don't believe me? Take a look. Base your training around this sort of thing in order to build a base, get stronger at them, then build on it. 

- Tim 



Thursday, July 31, 2014

Paleo Sumo Wrestler Soup!

 Recently I was watching a documentary on sumo wrestlers. I love looking into the training methods and diets of combat athletes and ancient warriors. One interesting thing I found was a soup that's staple of the sumo diet. It's called "chankonabe"and aside from a few ingredients, it's pretty paleo friendly. The soup is loaded with veggies and meat, and it's pretty simple to make.

 Now, I know what you're thinking, "why would I want to eat like a sumo? Aren't the fat?". Yes, they are ... but it's not from this soup it self. They eat a ton of the stuff, along with noodles, rice, and a shit load of beer! The calories they consume in a day is astronomical. They also nap a lot. Unless you're eating way too much, eating lots of grains and beer, and taking lots of naps ... you're not going to get fat from this soup. Quite the opposite actually!

 This recipe should go a long way and allow you to eat it all over the course of a few days, unless you're feeding a family. Now, before we get started, I'm not a chef and this is not the traditional recipe ... in fact it probably tastes a lot different. This is why I'm not calling it "chankonabe", I just like calling it my "sumo wrestler soup" because it was inspired by them. Anyways, it tastes great!

 Here's what you need ... 

- 1 pack of ground pork
- 1 large egg
- 1 box of chicken broth or bone broth
- 1 bunch of green onion
- 1 whole onion
- 1 small chunk of ginger
- 1-2 carrots
- 3-4 baby bok choy bunches
- 1 sweet potato, peeled
- 4-5 peeled garlics
- 5-6 mushrooms

Here's how to put it together ...

- Pour all of your chicken broth into a large pot (and I do mean large), start boiling it on the stove
- Dice up the green onion bunch and all of your garlic. Drop half of the diced up green onion and all of the garlic into the chicken broth
- In a large mixing bowl, add the ground pork, 1 large egg, and the rest of the green onion. Mix it by hand and roll them into small meat balls.
- Drop the meat balls, one by one, into the boiling chicken broth. Place a lid over it and allow it to boil at medium for a while.
- While the meat balls are boiling, dice up your carrots, ginger, mushrooms, onion, sweet potato, and rip up your bok choy.
- Add all of your veggies into the pot with the meat balls and broth
- Add a little more water to the pot, cover and allow it to sit and boil on low
- When the veggies are soft, and the meat is cooked, you'll be ready to let it cool off slightly and eat

- Tim



Monday, July 21, 2014

Handstands In The Park!

 In between training clients, if I have the time, I enjoy taking small trips around town to chill out or fit in some of my own training. One of my favourite spots is a large park down town. Today I headed there for a little bit of handstand training. 

- Tim 


How To Fix Your Squats Instantly!

 The squat is one of the most basic/primal human movements. If you look at any toddler try to pick something up off the ground, they drop into a perfect squat and stand back up. We're all born with the mobility to perform the squat. The problem is that over time, most adults completely lose the ability to perform this basic movement due to sitting on the couch, at a desk, or in the car. We no longer have to squat on a regular basis in our every day life and we slowly lose the mobility/flexibility required to fold our bodies into the squat. 

 Why should you care if you can drop into a full squat? Deep squats and holding the bottom position of a deep squat have a ton of benefits. Here's a few ... 

- Improved hip mobility/flexibility
- Better posture
- Improved ankle strength and mobility
- Increased knee strength and stability
- Increased hamstring and low back flexibility
- Better digestion
- Smoother bowel movements 
 ... and more! 

 When anyone first comes to me for training I always assess their basic movement patterns, and the squat is one of the most important ones. We have to first improve their movement and have them "re-learn" how to squat, push, pull, and stabilize themselves before any thing else! For most people, this is much more challenging than it sounds. 

 When it comes to the squat, there are a handful of issues that I run into regularly when teaching a client to "re-learn" the squat pattern. Everyone is different and their needs are addressed on an individual basis, BUT today I'll be showing you two of the most common issues and how to "quick fix" them. 

1.) You're knee's buckle inward during the lowering or standing up portion of your squat: 
  This is usually due to a lack of muscle recruitment in the hips and glutes. This lack or muscle involvement can also cause knee pain for some people. I've always found a great and simple fix for this issue is to provide resistance by having something push the legs/knees inward. Get yourself a jump stretch band or a theraband with a knot tied in it to form a loop.  Step into the loop of the band, slide it up your legs until it's just above the knee joint. As you squat, push your knees outward and fight against the resistance of the band. You should feel the pressure pass instantly into your gluts and hips, completely reducing your knee pain and the knee collapse. This is a great exercise for training the glutes and hips to activate properly during your squats. 

2.) You can't hold your balance, feel like you're going to fall backwards, and can't squat down deep:
  This one is a very simple fix, and you can do it with any number of house hold objects. Take a weight plate, broom stick, or 2x4 and place it under your the heels as you squat. This will help you root your heels into the object, help you sit back and maintain balance, and give you that full range of motion you're looking for during your squats.  Over time, you'll be able to remove the object from under your heels and squat without assistance. You don't need anything fancy to get this done, in the video above I use two rocks I found in the park. 

 There you have it, now get out there and get squatting like a champ! 

- Tim


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Paleo Banana Nut Chocolate Popsicles

 The other day I blogged about "Paleo Chocolate Popsicles". They're good ... but I'm not going to lie, these paleo banana nut chocolate popsicles totally blow them out of the water! They're simple to make, the recipe makes around 6 medium sized popsicles, and they coming out soft and rich. They're a great summer treat, and best of all they're paleo friendly!

 Here's What You'll Need ... 

- 1 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tbls cocoa powder
- 1 whole large banana
- 2-3 large tbls nut butter (cashew, almond)
- A couple drops of stevia to taste

Here's How To Put It Together ... 

- Place all of the ingredients in a blender
- Blend them together until they're mixed well
- Pour the mixture into popsicle molds
- Freeze them
- Eat and enjoy!

- Tim