Lift Heavy or Lift Lots?

There can always be a number of ways to achieve a result. As the expression goes, many roads lead to Rome. But the more specific we can be with our goal the more specific we can be with the prescription.

How to Fix a Strength Plateau

Anyone that does resistance training does so with the goal of getting stronger. Individuals coming off an injury want to get back to regular activity as soon as possible and do this by increasing the strength of the supportive muscles.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’

Kelowna’s Ultimate Athlete Training Centre is Here

They say good things come to those that wait.

This must be true because we’ve been waiting for something like this for a while now. And pardon my language but it’s shaping up to be pretty friggin’ awesome.

Why I am so excited?

Because Kelowna has yet to have the combination of the right equipment, in the right location to provide everything an athlete needs to become the best they can be.

How do I know this?

I’ve worked in, had memberships at or contracted space in every fitness related venture in town.

From the big box commercial gyms with thousands of members but only one squat rack.

Or the gym that tried to be sports specific and even had a rack with platforms and bumper plates. We tested that place out a few times with some athletes and the first time we did some Olympic lifts the staff came running out yelling us not to drop the bumper plates. Seriously, I don’t think anyone had ever done an Olympic lift there before.

And then there’s the local community gym which don’t get me wrong is a great place with super friendly staff but doesn’t really work for training athletes.

Calgary Stampeder Dimitri Tsoumpas Pushing The Prowler In Preparation For The Upcoming CFL Season

But we got to the point where we needed to do things at a higher level. And the space we’re moving into and the equipment we’ve acquired is going to allow us to do this.

What type of equipment are we talking about here?

How about 4 squat racks and platforms. Over 2300 lbs of weight plates including 700 lbs of bumper plates. Want to learn the Olympic lifts and get more powerful? We can definitely help you out there.

But the racks, see the picture at the top, aren’t your basic rack. They have swivel chin up hooks, dip attachments, super band pegs and a landmine attachment. We can easily train 12 athletes at a time on these 4 racks/platforms.

And the benches lock right into the racks. See the pins on the base of the bench at the top? This allows you to quickly and easily slide the bench into the rack to the right spot, lock it in place and go from there.

But we didn’t stop with just racks, platoforms and plates. In our strength/power area we also have dumbbells to 120 lbs, squat stands, an Olympic bench press, a glute ham developer, plyoboxes and med balls.

Jump over to the other side of the facility and this is where we’ll get your heart racing.

Whether it be with our competition kettlebells, upto 48 kg, our battling ropes, trap bars, sandbags, slideboard, bands, tubing, jump ropes, Prowler, TRX or chin up station there’s more than enough variety to develop all the energy systems.

48KG Pro Grade Kettlebell With A Smooth Handle And Ergonomic Design

To top it all off we’ve got a separate area for warming up, foam rolling, stretching and core work.

Lastly, as you come and go you can grab a water, Gatorade or shake which is included in your membership.

The record board for the facility will be going up soon. It’s going to fun to see all the hard work that is about to happen, the successes that will follow and how far we can all go with this.

Stay tuned for an open house coming where you can come check it all out (and get in on some amazing membership offers!)

Too excited to sleep these days,

Chris                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’

Corrective Exercise Gone Bad

Did you ever watch those tv specials ‘When Animals Go Bad’?

You know the ones I mean? They show video footage of a normally docile and affectionate pet or animal that just snaps and some poor unsuspecting soul pays the price for it?

I remember seeing an animal handler have a koala bear freak out at Busch Gardens in Tampa once. The little kids that were so curious to see this cute bear all rushed the handler and surrounded him quickly.

And if you can imagine to a koala bear seeing all these little monsters running at it and screaming the koala bear thinks it’s getting attacked.

So the koala starts clawing at the handler to get away. The bear doesn’t want to be held by the handler while all these little people are charging forward.

And up until that point I never realized that koalas have sharp claws. But after seeing the handler get sliced and diced by the koala I don’t think of these animals as cute and cuddly anymore.

Long story short the koala ended up back in its habitat. And the handler was taken away on a stretcher for stitches and medical treatment.

So what the heck does this have to do with training and fitness?

Well just like at the zoo sometimes we have different intentions of the final outcome.

In this case the koala bear, the handler and the little kids all hoped things would have turned out a little differently.

The handler probably didn’t forsee a trip to the hospital for stitches and maybe a shot.

The bear didn’t forsee what it perceived as an apparent attack.

And the little kids didn’t realize they wouldn’t be able to pet the bear and were a little distraught to see the bear attack the handler and be wisked away shortly after still snarling and trying to defend itself.

Now back to the gym.

Imagine you have an assessment performed by a fitness professional who identifies a weakness in your body. And this weakness is causing you pain and an inability to perform certain activities and sports. Further this deficiency is causing you to compensate, because other muscles are trying to help out, creating even more problems and dysfunctions.

If you’re like most people you’d want to fix this weakness.

So maybe your fitness professional shows you the perfect exercise to address this issue. Or maybe you pick up a book. Or find a video that shows how to do the exercise.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Well here’s the problem.

When you are dealing with weakness the body is very good at finding alternate ways to get you from A –> B.

For example if someone lacks lateral glute strength they may reach for a piece of tubing or a band and perform clam shells or some lateral band walks.

Which would be a great exercise. Provided it is done properly.

And that’s the catch.

Most people compensate when they do these drills. They recruit neighbouring muscles beside the ones that are weak and this allows them to get from A–>B.

But while they may stimulate the weak muscle slightly the bulk of the load is picked up by the adjacent muscles. (synergistic dominance)

So instead of eliminating a dysfunction by strengthening a weak muscle, we have put increased demands on the neighbouring muscles and made the situation worse.

Case in point…have you ever heard of someone going for rehab for an injury, being given some exercises to do but saying they didn’t notice much difference or relief?

So what’s the take home message from all this?

Use the services of a top notch fitness professional, especially when working on corrective exercise.

And don’t rush the koala bear at Busch Gardens.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                                             okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’

5 Things I Can Do Better to Improve My Health & Performance

If you’re serious about your health and performance than you want to know that you’re doing the best you can with your efforts. And if you’re not where you’d like to be weight-wise, performance-wise or in terms of your rehab than there are probably some things you could be doing a better job of. And if you are having some success in these areas than you are probably motivated to see what else you could do to ramp up your results even more.

I’ll be honest…I know I could do more personally. A while back I stated some of my goals. A few of them included hitting targeted strength measures, improved fitness levels and a specific scale weight.

And while I’m on track to hit my goals I know I could be further along. I know I maybe under-estimated myself by selecting goals I knew I had a pretty good chance of attaining.

There’s not a problem in doing that. But we want to make sure we are giving our best effort and setting new goals if necessary.

So while I’ll probably wait until I realize the current goals I’ve set  until I pick new ones there are a few things I know I can improve on until then. With that in mind here are 5 Things I Can Do Better to Improve My Health & Performance.

1. Improved sleep – I need 8 hours of sleep a night. Not 8 hours of bedtime on my computer, reading or doing sudoku puzzles but 8 actual hours of sleep. I need to make sure that I get as many of these 8 before midnight as possible. And I need to make sure to be as consistent with my time to bed and time to rise as  possible.

2. More soft tissue work – Every workout should begin with some foam rolling. It doesn’t have to be lots of time and the more I do of it the less time is necessary. But sometimes I’m a little short on time for training and this is what gets cut from the program. I need to remind myself how effective foam rolling is, how this restores alignment and posture, how it helps we achieve optimal technique on my lifts and allows me to recover more quickly between workouts.

3. Less sugar – For a while there I was in the habit of writing down the sugar content of everything I ate. Well not really everything but if it came in a package I was jotting in down. And this good because as you get your insulin under control your fat burning goes way up. I’ve got to get back to doing this again.

4. Drink more water – Sometimes I’ll get busy writing programs or running errands and won’t drink as much water as I should. As soon as you’re 2% dehydrated performance drops off. Plus many of your muscle building and fat burning enzymes are hydrolytic and require water. There are a number more good reasons to drink more water and I know I have to increase my intake.

5. Watch out for compensations – As soon as we compensate we put stress on the body where it shouldn’t be. And we then take longer to recover from this stress. Plus the longer we get away with our compensations the harder they are to undo and the greater the chance of injury. Specifically I need to watch that I am maintaining a neutral lumbar spine on all of my lifts. Only the weight should move and the rest of the trunk should be steady.

Well there are the areas I think I can do better in.

What about you? Where can you improve? Does it have to do with rest, training, nutrition or something else altogether? In the comments section tell me what you want to focus on and I’ll reply to help you out.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                                                             okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’