Good Exercise Done Wrong – The Abs Wheel Roll-Out

The number one goal of people that go to the gym is weight loss. And of this group I would guess that flat toned abs is the ultimate physical outcome of this goal.

A Core Like Superman – Limbs Like Gumby

This morning I was doing an assessment with a rugby player. And is the case when I am coaching I tend to use analogies to convey the points I am trying to make. This assessment was no different.

Don’t Use Batman’s Workout

So have you seen the new Batman movie, The Dark Night Rises? If not you should check it out. From the special effects, to the story line and acting everything was very well done.

But even though I’d recommend this one and say it was probably one of the best the series I wouldn’t say it was perfect. There were three things that missed the mark on this one.

A Lengthened Spine For Optimal Perfomance

Necks are kind of interesting when it comes to training.

Depending on what a particular neck looks like it can either give us the impression of fitness or fatness.

And there are even images that come to mind to describe these two types of physiques. If someone is heavily muscled we can picture them with strong traps that run alongside a strong neck.

Launch of Fall Youth Fitness Training

This summer was one of the best in terms of our Youth Fitness Training.
It is so much fun to work with young athletes that have boundless amounts of energy and work hard for you.
These training camps keep getting better and better. To put it in perspective last year we had 3 athletes out and this year we had 22!
What is the secret to our success?
We make sure to design a well thought out and periodized training program with an emphasis on fun. Take for example the last day which consisted of a number of games, relays, tug of war battles and ‘Simon Says’. The only thing missing was a slip and slide and I’m already on it to make sure we have one for next year.

What You Might be Doing Wrong with Your Core Training

If there’s one thing most people like about working out it’s core training.

This transcends age, goal, sport, training history, sex and geographic boundaries. Every client I meet with, whether performance or fitness oriented, expresses a stronger core as one of their goals.

3 Ways to Get the Best Results When You Workout

Last weekend I was in Tofino for a wedding which is a really beautiful place but not exactly a  weekend getaway. Give yourself some more time if you go.

And if you plan on doing some surfing make sure to use a wetsuit. I went for a quick, maybe a few minutes, swim in the ocean and it was refreshing. I’m not sure you’d last more than 10-15 minutes in that water without a wetsuit though.

But I’m not writing you about road trips or swimming in the ocean.

Instead I want to you understand there are a few ways you can get better results when you train. Here they are.

3 Ways to Get the Best Results When You Workout.

#1 – Prioritize Your Weak Links

Most times when this is mentioned to us we think of bilateral differences such as my left arm is weaker than my right. But you can think of this in other ways as well.

For example after sitting for almost 12 hours in the car and on the ferry yesterday I noticed my left hip gets tighter than my right. And I notice more tension in my right trap than in my left.

You don’t always have to think of your weak link as being related to the loads you can lift. This can also be deficits in your range of motion and the quality of your movements.

Try and pin point the things that you are the most aware of and address these first.

#2 Focus on Your Posture During Your Most Challenging Movements

If I have difficulty performing push ups I am most likely going to compensate when I do them.

My hips might sag.

I might struggle to press my body off the ground.

And my head might sag as I lower myself to the ground.

All of these things are indications of my posture, and therefore my core, breaking down, during the lift.

Imagine yourself standing against a wall with your heels, hips, shoulders and head touching the wall. Now freeze yourself and place your body in a push up position.

Not many people maintain this when they do push ups.

Why does this matter?

You will better recruit your core musculature with proper posture and be less likely to put undue strain on your back.

#3 Don’t Forget to Breathe (properly)

Ever notice what happens when someone gets fatigued?

Their respirations increase, don’t they?

No big surprise there.

But what also happens is that the breathing goes from diaphragm-based to chest-based.

And as the chest starts to heave and fall the traps and neck muscles are triggered as well.

And this disrupts our ability to maintain our posture as well as our ability to maintain a stable position through our trunk.

So the take home messsage from all of this is that when you do address your weak links make sure you maintain ideal posture and then relax your breathing. Allow the breathing to happen from lower down rather than in your chest and you’ll be in a better position to address your deficits and get better results.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ‘always moving forward’

Think of Your Core Like a Young Tree with Supports

I never ceases to amaze me how stronly some people hold on to ill-conceived notions.

For example, there are still people that believe the earth is flat.

Or that the end of days was May 21, 2011. (I hope they had a huge party on the 10th!)

Or that the best way to engage our core is by shrinking the midsection.

Ok, so maybe the last example  isn’t exactly in the same category as the first few but to those in this industry it should be pretty cut and dry. You don’t engage the core musculature by:

* sucking in the gut

* drawing the navel towards the spine

* creating a vacuum stomach

* or trying to activate a single core muscle such as the transverse abdominus

This is wrong on a number of levels. But maybe the easiest way to understand it and appreciate what I’m getting at is to use the following analogy.

This analogy is very similar to one used by Stuart McGill but I like the version we’re going to use more because it involves movement and change. A couple of things that are synonymous with health and life.

Anyways, so the way this analogy works is to imagine planting a young tree into the ground. This new tree doesn’t have much of a root system yet it has some height to it. And since the trunk is not yet at its full thickness it may not be able to support its own weight. Or at best it may get pulled out of alignment quite easily.

So to make sure this new tree grows straight and tall we will support it with some landscape ties.

Any 5 year would understand that the landscape ties are there to support the tree and prevent it from falling out of alignment.

And we would understand that the supports are there but not with high levels of tension but enough to get the job done.

Because sometimes there will be a need to give the tree a little extra support.

Ok, now quick question…if the wind was really blowing and bending this young tree back and forth all over the place, would you move the landscape ties in closer to the base of the tree?

In other words, if the landscape ties were each 2 feet from the tree, would you move the ties in a foot?

No, of course not.

This would take away at least 50% of the support the tree receives from the ties. As well it would the tree in jeopardy of  more damage as now the wind can move the tree that much more.

So let’s go back to the example of the engaging your core.

If you need to fire your core muscles would you:

A) want to suck in your gut, draw your navel to your spine and ‘decrease the distance from your support to your spine’?


B) want to maintain or increase the distance of your supports to your spine?

It should be a fairly simple question to answer.

But unfortunately many still use the wrong approach.

As a colleague told me recently:

* Never draw in

* Brace when necessary

* Breathe always

If you guys like the posts on core activation and musculature let me know in the comments section and I’ll put together some more content on this topic in the future.

In fact I’m currently working on an article ‘Who else wants Fat Abs and a Double Chin?’ that you’re going to love.

Have a great weekend.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ‘always moving forward’

Top 7 Reasons to Swim

It’s always interesting to me how certain things happen in cycles. Or you’ll recognize patterns of things that are happening more often.

Recently this has been the case with swimming. And I’m sure the warmer weather has something to do with this. But I still find that more people are incorporating swimming into their training.

And so with this in mind I thought I would give you my Top 7 Reasons to Swim.

Reason #1 – It is great active recovery

For many people their workouts consist of resistance training with dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells.  There are focussed efforts to flex and extend the joints in the body to produce reps and increase strength, power and muscular endurance while reducing body fat, waist circumference and recovery times.

In between days when we perform these workouts it’s great to have something we can turn to which doesn’t tax the body in the same way yet still serves the purpose of enhancing recovery. We are able to flush the body of any of the remaining waste products from training while restoring mobility with some active recovery.

Reason #2 – No impact

Do you ever get sore joints? Is it from a hard day on the ski hill? Or playing in a tournament on the weekend with multiple games over a couple of days? Maybe it’s simply an old injury thast flares up whenever you try and do too much.

This is where swimming is great. The only resistance is that of the water and is proportional the effort you exert. But even if you really go for it in the pool you will only pushing against water which is a lot more forgiving than any impact on land.

Reason #3 – It works everything

It’s hard to find a sport or activity that works as many muscles as swimming does. From your finger tips through to your toes your entire body is involved in every stroke.

Want to balance out your stroke? Flip over onto your back. Better yet track down an awesome coach (hello Steven Vander Meulen! and get some lessons to learn all of the strokes. Just as you would never do the same one lift in the gym when working out it makes sense to vary your workout in the pool as well.

Reason #4 – Swimming is an efficient workout

What if I told you I went for a one hour bike ride? Would you be impressed? What about a one hour rollerblade? Run?

The run might be a challenge for some but most could ride a bike or rollerblade for an hour.

Now if I said jump in the pool, the deep end where you can’t touch, and swim for an hour. How would you do? Many would struggle. And even if you lived to tell about you’d want to crawl into bed and sleep until tomorrow.

Swimming is great in this way that because it is so challenging it doesn’t take a whole lot of time to get in a challenging workout.

The next 3 points are specific considerations for swimming.

Reason #5 – Maintain a neutral head

When in the pool make sure your head is neutral. Many who sit at desks all day tend to have extended necks and crane forward to read the computer screen. When they jump in the pool they tend to transfer this poor posture to their swimming. This puts more stress on the neck, shoulders and traps.

Reason #6 – Modify your shoulder training

If you are going to start piling up the mileage in the pool make sure to modify your shoulder workouts. You can probably lay off on some of the overhead pressing movements and incorporate more retraction and rear delt work instead.

Reason #7 – Recognize the open chain

 Land based activities are similar in that most are closed chain meaning that at least one limb of the body is in contact with the ground. Swimming is unique in that the limbs are not in contact with the ground. We don’t elicit the same stretch reflex as a result of ground reaction forces. We are able to push against the water to generate a contraction which can vary based the mechanics of our stroke, the stroke we use as well as the effort we apply. As a result we may need to adjust our land based workouts, specifically our core training, if we are to incorporate swimming on a more frequent basis.

In the comments section let me know if you swim and if so what the benefits are for you.

Chris                                                                                                                                                             ‘always moving forward’

A Quick Low Back and Deadlifting Fix

I like simple things.

Simple fixes. Simple solutions.

I think this is what Occam’s Razor is all about. That the simplest solution is often the correct one. Well that’s the way I understand it.

And I like when simple things transfer over to other things.

Consider for example in day to day life how a solution makes your life better and it helps in more than one way.

Below I’ve added a video for you.

And it has to do with helping alleviate low back pain and improve your posture.

The video only runs a few minutes so have a quick watch.



To recap the points from the video:

* slide to the edge of your seat

* split your feet wide into a V position

* grab the seat between your legs

* push your chest tall as you drive your heels into the floor and pull with your arms

***really fine print…guys I assume no responsibility if you should wreck your wife or girlfriend’s favourite chair


Here’s where this gets really cool.

If you can repeat these points on your deadlifts you will instantly improve your deadlifts.

Why is this so?

Because many deadlifts start with a collapsed chest, a relaxed low back or by pulling with the arms instead of driving through the heels.

So if you have:

* poor posture

* especially while sitting

* low back pain

* a goal to improve your deadlifts

Make sure to incorporate this tip into your day to day occupation as well as your workout routine.

All the best.

Chris                                                                                                                                                           ‘always moving forward’