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Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 34

Posted Feb 21 2013 9:11pm
In this week's installment, Greg Robins has five tips you can immediately apply to your nutrition and strength and conditioning programs.

1. Add resistance bands to common exercises for variety.

2. Always cook more than you need.

As part of my efforts to help our adult boot camp clients, I talk to them pretty regularly about nutrition. In some cases, I will review a 3-day food log for them. Here is a scenario I encounter every time. I’m not kidding – every single time.

Meal 1: sucks
Meal 2: sucks
Meal 3: a solid, balanced dinner

This goes on for the next two days as well. I get it,; they are busy parents and dinner is the ideal time to actually cook something of quality. By the time I go to the point of food log review we have already discussed the importance of food preparation. Additionally, every class member receives a hand out on his or her first day that touches upon food preparation’s importance. From here, I go on to explain a simple strategy, - one that most everyone can benefit from.

Each time you cook, do so for 2-3 more people than you plan on serving that night. If you don’t have the time, or just don’t want to dedicate a set time to food prep, then do it little by little. Double recipes, cook a few extra pieces of meat; steam an extra few bags of veggies. As soon as you’re done cooking, store the extra in your fridge. If you consistently do this, you should have a plethora of ready to go meals, random raw ingredients, and no reason to have two meals of suck anymore. Easy!

3. Remember that inefficiency can be productive.

Ever notice how often you receive conflicting information from fitness industry experts? It’s pretty prevalent. This is mainly the product of people effectively taking stances to make their products and articles more appealing. For example, one person says squatting is bad, and another says it’s the key to everything. Likewise, the sit-up has been put through the ringer numerous times. Many great coaches are all about doing them; others tell you they are as dangerous as blindfolded racecar driving.

If more readers took the time to examine the information, and less time spreading the information solely based on who delivered it, this would help lessen the confusion. Why?

One point I constantly see debated is the one on efficiency, mainly in terms of exercise selection within programming. Sometimes being INEFFICIENT is actually incredibly productive. Take these two examples into consideration next time you think out the programming of yourself or those you train.

A) Pairing competing exercises

People are quick to make sure that paired exercises don’t compete with one another. However, sometimes an inefficient pairing will help your cause. In the case of hypertrophy this is definitely the case, albeit not always the case. If you want to target a certain muscle group, consider pairing two exercises that do essentially the same thing. For example, bench press followed by push-ups, or pull-ups followed by the band pullapart.

The level of fatigue you cause doing this can actually be productive, especially when an all out assault on the muscles in question is your MO.

B) Fat Loss Exercises Selection

In large part, fat loss programming should be about being inefficient. The idea is to cause a great amount of metabolic disturbance. What better way to do this than by making the body work much harder than it normally would? An extra 30-minute walk a day is a great way to burn extra calories. It’s even better when you wear a 15lb weight vest.

Take into account what you are trying to accomplish with your training. After doing so, evaluate if being inefficient (and safe!) from time to time might be productive. Many times, it is!

4. Try the 1-leg dumbbell pullover.

In this post a few weeks ago, Eric talked about how valuable an exercise the pullover is.  Today, I've got a good progression for you:

5. Don’t assume athletes have the same goals, if any at all.

It’s pretty common practice when working with general population fitness clients to discuss goal setting. Many personal trainers make a point to monitor goals, and coach people on how to set them. For some reason, very few strength and conditioning coaches talk to their athletes about goal setting. Recently, I stumbled upon this research done at the University of Illinois, and published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

The study examined the relationship between having an effort goal and self-regulatory efficacy (SRE) beliefs in Division I football players. Self-efficacy is your ability to regulate how you feel in terms of accomplishing tasks and goals. A person with high self-efficacy believes they are capable of whatever they want to accomplish. Furthermore, they are more likely to approach difficulties with a fire to overcome them, rather than avoid them.

I am a huge advocate of stressing the human element associated with fitness and nutrition related success, or lack there of. Naturally, this study appealed to me right away. Interestingly enough, student athletes who met the criterion for having an effort goal had much better SRE. Additionally, as the magnitude of their goal increased, so did their SRE rating.

We can all learn something from this study. First, just having well defined goals (whether they are practical or not) boosts a person’s self-efficacy. So, the next time you want to shut a kid down who has a dream, don’t. Instead, get him talking about it!

Next, make it a point to ask kids about their goals. If they have them, you should know about them. It’s not enough to assume they are training for the same reason as the kid next to them. This brings me to my final point: some kids won’t have goals. I bet there aren’t many kids at the gym who truly “don’t want to be there.” They just have no clue why they are there. Give them direction and help them set goals!

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