Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Anytime, Anywhere: 4 Minimalist Hinge Exercises

 My latest article for BreakingMuscle.com is up and it's all about the hinge! I love bodyweight training, but there's one problem with it - there's no great way to train the hinge. In this article I will detail 4 ways you can effectively train your hinge with just a few resistance bands! Click here to read my latest article! 

- Tim 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Get To Stepping - 2 Stair Set Workouts For Conditioning

 You don't need any expensive equipment, open space, or even great weather to get in an effective conditioning workout. In fact, you can get it done in your own home, apartment, or hotel. All you need is a set of stairs!

 I'm all about a minimalist approach to fitness, and using what's available in your area to your advantage is a part of that approach. Just about every single home will have a set of stairs, why not use those to your advantage? You're not always going to have access to a gym, a track, or equipment. By learning how to use the stairs as a conditioning tool, you'll be eliminating any of those excuses.

  I've been using stair sets for years with clients to elicit outstanding results, and today I'm going to share two of them with you! The methods I'm going to share with you today are not the only way to use stairs for conditioning, they're just a few of the ways I have used them.

 Yes, I know about stair sprints, and so does everyone else! We've all seen Rocky ... so I'm not including them in this.

 The purpose of this post is to get your mind open to the idea of using your stairs for effective conditioning. This way, you'll be able to get in a quality conditioning workout anywhere in the world. Let's take a look at a few different workouts I enjoy.

Fast Feet

It's called fast feet for a reason! This workout is a simple conditioning workout that only involves the use of one step. It's easy, and I often use it with new trainees due to the low difficultly level. That doesn't mean it's not suitable for the experienced trainee! It's going to rev your heart rate up no matter who you are. I enjoy using this after a strength training workout as a finisher.

How it's done ...

- Step up on to the first step, then step down.
- Repeat this as quickly as possible for 20 seconds
- Rest for 10 seconds
- Repeat this 8x
- Each round alternate the foot your using to step up

The goal is to step up and down as fast as you can, and I do mean FAST! Then rest for 10 seconds before repeating. If you have a railing to hold onto during this workout DO IT! If you slip while you're taking a step it will help prevent you from falling on your face!

Variations ...

- 30 seconds of work/30 seconds 4-8x

The Pilgrimage To Pai Mei's

 In old Kung Fu movies, and the Kill Bill series, Pai Mei was a cruel kung fu master who lived on the top of a tall mountain. The only way to make it to Pai Mei, was to walk up a massive stair set ... only to get your ass kicked at the top. This workout is a much slower form of conditioning, but it's fantastic and basic. I use a stair well for this workout, but home stairs will due as well! Longer stair sets (10 - 20) are best, but short sets can work as well. It's going to be a grind, but if done correctly it will have you breathing hard in a short amount of time.

How it's done ...

- You'll start at the bottom of the stairs
- Walk with purpose, full extension of the knee and hip at the top of each step, squeezing the glutes
- Once you reach the top of the flight of stairs, perform 5-10 face the wall squats (posture squats) at a pace of 4 seconds down, 4 seconds up
- Walk up the next flight of stairs (or if at home, walk down the stairs briskly and then back up them with purpose)
- Reach the top of that flight of stairs and perform 5-10 face the wall squats
- Repeat this sequence over and over for 10-20 mins without stopping

 This can be done with a smaller set of steps (5-6 steps) but I would suggest walking up them, back down, then back up, before performing the squats. This could also be done with step as well, step up and then back down on the one step 10 - 20 times before performing your squats. You could also vary the exercises, you don't need to only perform squats. Push ups, chin ups, and lunges, would also be suitable.

Variations ...

- Add a weight vest
- Use a resistance band for added weight during squats

 - Tim


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Best Bodyweight Exercise You're Not Doing!

 I'm often asked about lower body exercises to use in a minimalist/bodyweight training program. Most people have an idea of basic squats and lunges, they may even have an idea of a few progressions to make each of those harder or easier ... but that's about it! While squats and lunges are a great place to start, and they do have their place, they're certainly not the only exercises available for building lower body strength on a minimalist training program! One EXCELLENT exercise that you can add to your training program, starting to day, is ...

The Hip Thruster! 

  For a variety of reasons, the hip thruster is an exercise that has become a staple in most of my programs. First off, the hip thruster improves stability and athleticism. 

 The hip thruster helps develop glute strength (specifically glute max) and hip drive. The glutes play an integral roll in all athletics, core strength, as well as stabilizing the hips and lower back! In fact, glute inactivity (glute amnesia) is a common cause of lower back issues for many people! Having strong and functional glutes is a must for anyone, regardless of whether or not you're an athlete or office worker. Along with squats and lunges, the hip thruster is a terrific exercise to do just that! 

 Hip drive is important in just about any athletics, the ability to drive forward and explode from the hips is a must in any sport. The hip thruster can help improve your hip drive, which will translate well to things such as faster sprinting speeds! Hip drive and thrust is also important at home ... in the bedroom ... with your partner. If you catch my drift! 

  The hip thruster is an excellent functional movement, but in terms of aesthetics, it's also fantastic for developing a great looking butt! I say it all the time, the beautiful looking body is a by product of your functional fitness and diet. There's no need to put aesthetics over function. Functional movements will help provide you with the aesthetics you desire, along with the ability to move well during everyday life or athletics! The hip thruster is a great example of this. 

How To Hip Thrust

 Finding a set up to hip thrust isn't hard, you can do it just about anywhere! This is just another reason I enjoy it. In the video I'm using my living room couch, but you can use anything from chairs, gym benches, park benches, picnic tables, or even tree stumps/logs to lay your upper back across. The possibilities  are endless, be creative and you'll find something to use. 

 Tips When setting up the hip thruster ... 

- The bench rests just under your shoulder blades
- Weight is placed through the heels (not the toes)
- Keep the knees from caving inward
- Neck remains neutral throughout the movement, don't tuck your chin at the top
- Glutes should remain tense throughout the movement. Think of them pulling you down and pressing you upward.
-  The glutes should be squeezed hard at the top of the movement
- Your shins should run vertical at the top of the movement, not on an angle. 

In the  video below I demonstrate (along with my assistant) 3 hip thruster variations. They're placed in order of difficulty, the easiest comes first. If  the first one is too difficult for you I suggest getting comfortable with glute bridges first and then move onto hip thrusters. Now, take a look at the video and get those hip thrusters into your bodyweight training program! 

- Tim 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Monday, August 31, 2015

Moving Meditation Through Fitness

 The benefits of regular mediation have been talked about for centuries. A regular practice can help reduce stress/anxiety, improve mental clarity/focus, and maintain cognitive function into later years. It's no secret that some form of meditation would be a great addition to most people's daily routine! Lucky for you, there's no shortage of methods to choose from. You only need to do some research or take a class, practice it often, and see if it's right for you. Simple, easy, and in most cases won't break the bank! 

 Meditation can come in many forms and styles. Popular ones include guided meditation, mindful meditation (popularized by Shaolin Monks), and transcendental mediation (popularized by Hindu Yogi's). Most of these methods involve sitting, kneeling, or laying down in a calm space of your choosing. Their focus can range from channeling your attention on one word/phrase, simply observing your thoughts as they pass though your mind, or even clearing the mind. Not every method of mediation is right for everyone, the one that works for you will be unique to your personality type. 

 That being said, these calm methods of meditation don't always jive with every ones personality.  

 Yes, it takes practice to learn how to sit still and adapt to your meditation practice. It would be worth giving a calm practice a try for a while before you decide if working or not. But what if you've been trying for a while and it's just- not- working? Don't worry, there's another way to get that meditation done without sitting still. 

Moving Meditation 

 The mind and the body are "one", in my opinion for them to function at a high level they must be trained together. This is why I often opt for moving forms of meditation in my daily life instead of tradition calm methods. We've all felt the calm/high state felt after a quality workout, it's almost zen like, and people have known about this forever! This isn't a new phenomenon, we can see many examples of this "moving meditation" throughout history. 

 Shaolin Warrior Monks have practiced this for centuries through Qi Gong. Their practice of Qi Gong allowed them to connect their breath, mind, and movement together in one action; improving the well being physical body as well as their mind. Samurai would train with laser focus on improving sword techniques, hand to hand combat, and even art. Their single minded purpose/focus through their physical practice allowed them to reach a high level of zen; even without sitting for hours each week meditating. It's quite obvious that Yoga is a powerful form of moving meditation! Do I even need to go into more detail on that ... I didn't think so! 

  Even though they're all fun, you don't need to specifically practice Qi Gong, Kendo, or Yoga to work on moving mediation.  It can be as simple as taking a long walk and simply observing your surroundings, calming the mind, and allowing you to recharge. You can also get a quality moving meditation practice through your own training program! Today I'm going to outline my favourite method of moving meditation, achieved through minimalist training. 

Moving Meditation Workout

 The method I'm about to describe is simple, after all, I'm all about bodyweight and minimalist approach to training! You won't need much equipment, just a pull up bar or a suspension trainer/gymnastics rings and your own bodyweight. The goal during this workout is to not count your reps. You can throw the rep counting out the window! I want you to only focus on your form and your breathing. You need to be mindful about the exercise you're performing, focusing only on that movement at that time. It's a high intensity method that will produce a deep level of muscular fatigue, push your heart rate up, and get you breathing hard. Trust me, it's a great workout that will build that "zen" state we talked about earlier.  Here's how to put it together ...

- Choose a variation for each exercise that you can complete at least 10 reps.
- Perform the exercises back to back, in the order listed, with 15 seconds of rest between exercises
- Perform each exercise at a pace of 4 seconds up and 4 seconds down, with a 1 second pause at the top and bottom of the movement.
- Perform as many reps as you can possibly complete with perfect form, at the tempo described!
- Once the form as broken down, or you can no longer move at the temp described, move onto the next exercise.
- Once you completed all the exercises, rest for 1-2 mins and repeat the whole "circuit" again 1-2 more times depending on your fitness level. 

1.) Bodyweight Row or Chin Up/Pull Up variation 
2.) Push Up variation 
3.) Squat variation

 Give this a try and I'm sure you'll find it produces a great calming effect, not only for the body but also the mind. 

- Tim 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Paleo Cacao Nib & Date Cereal!

 This might just be my new favourite breakfast ... or one of my favourites of all time. I'm not even over hyping this, it just might be your new favourite too. 

Said in my best Ron Burgundy "question" voice: This paleo cereal is so easy ... a caveman could do it? Yes, the pun was intended - bite me.

 This breakfast can be thrown together in seconds, no real need for measuring cups. I know I didn't use them! I guess it goes without saying, this recipe is going to be a little loose with the measurements. I was just too excited to get it out to you, I couldn't bother with the measurements. 

Anyways ... make it, love it, tell your family and friends! 

Here's What You'll Need:

- Dry dates 
- Pecans (crushed or whole)
- Cacao nibs
- Almond milk or coconut milk 

Here's How To Put It Together:

- Grab a hand full of pecans and place them in a bowl
- Cut up 6 pitted dates (or more) and throw them on top of your pecans
- Sprinkle a liberal amount of cacao nibs on top of your pecans and dates
- Top with almond or coconut milk, stir everything 
- Eat and have your mind blown away

 Thank me when you're done! 

- Tim


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

5 Ways To End Elbow Pain During Chin Ups

 My latest article for BreakingMuscle.com is up and it's all about how to end your elbow pain during chin ups. I've outlined 5 simple tips that you can do, starting today, that will help ease or eliminate elbow pain while performing chin ups or pull ups. A lot of people struggle with pain during chin ups, luckily these small fixes usually help most trainees. To read the article you can follow this link

- Tim