5 Ways To Track Progress WITHOUT Using A Scale

Many people focus solely on the scale to measure their progress, while the scale is a great tool and will show if you are headed in the right direction over-time, there are many other ways to measure progress that are less harsh on you mentally.

If you are someone who gets obsessed or overly disappointed when weighing yourself, these five ways to measure progress may be a better option for you.

  1. Progress Pictures

This is a very underrated way to track results and can be a great tool to measuring your progress. If you are strength training while pursuing weight loss, your weight on the scale will fluctuate greatly because you will be gaining muscle, while losing body fat.

A progress picture can show how your body composition is changing, and gives you a visual of you heading in the right direction without relying on a scale.

2. Tracking Your Strength Increases in The Gym

Another underrated but useful tool of progress, is keeping track of your weights in the gym and whether or not you are increasing reps or weight as time goes on. If you are increasing your performance in the gym, there is almost always a chance that you’re headed in the right direction with lose in body fat and increases in muscle gain.

3. Tape Measurements

This method of tracking progress is great because you don’t have to update it weekly or daily, but more on a monthly basis. The scale is tempting to update weekly and even sometimes daily for most of us which can cause a negative impact on the way you look at yourself.

We suggest measuring the places you’d like to see decrease or increase the most in inches, and then updating them once per month to see if you are on the right track.

4. Body Fat Percentage

Although there aren’t many accurate and easy ways to measure body fat percentage, it is a great tool to give you a baseline of where you are and something you don’t have to track on a frequent basis.

If you don’t have access a DEXA scan near you, you can use an electronic body fat reader or pinchers. Remember if you choose not to use a DEXA scan, you will not get 100% accuracy, but a range that you could be in.

5. Clothing

This may seem simple and silly, but being able to fit into old clothes is a GREAT way to measure progress. If the scale hasn’t budged, but you can fit into your favorite pair of old jeans, thats a sign that you have changed your body composition in a positive way.

Remember, the scale should never be your main focus while on your fitness journey. It is just a number and does not determine your self-worth or progress being made. Stay consistent with working out and eating healthy, and your goals will happen! This has to be a long-term lifestyle, not just a short term fix.

Strength Training For Weight Loss: Less Cardio, More Weights!

For years now, there has been a big mis-conception that all you need to do to lose weight is start running, or hop on an elliptical for an hour. We are told to burn as many calories as possible during our workout and focus on cardio as our primary form of exercise.

Most of this idea comes from most people not wanting to look like a “bodybuilder” so they often avoid weight training, thinking they will become “bulky” from heavy weights and cardio will get them “toned”.

Don’t get us wrong, cardio plays a large role in losing body fat and keeping a healthy heart, BUT strength training is often the missing puzzle to breaking through a weight loss plateau. Keeping muscles strong and active will increase your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate), so you will burn more calories at rest.

Building lean muscle mass is truly the answer to losing weight at a healthy pace AND keeping it off! Do you find yourself and people you know doing the yearly cycle of losing 20lbs from doing cardio and eating less, then gaining it all back just in time for the next New Year resolution? Building muscle from strength training can and will be the answer to stopping that cycle.

As stated above, most of us worry that strength training and lifting heavy will give us the “bulky” look when this is not true. Toning means building muscle, you need to increase lean muscle mass in order to “tone” your body – doing only cardio will not offer this benefit.

Losing it in the right places

Another benefit of weight lifting is that you will lose your weight correctly. As a personal trainer, I often see clients pay close attention to the scale when this is not the only measure of progress and can at times fool you that you are losing actual body fat. If you never build muscle on your weight loss journey – you won’t be very happy with flabby arms and “skinny fat” look once you’ve hit your goal weight.

Don’t forget the body has multiple energy stores including body fat, Glycogen, and water. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose and are only doing cardio – often times you will lose Glycogen and water storage which can be a huge amount of weight! Although this is a good thing and you will feel/look different, you haven’t tapped into actual fat storage which is what matters about keeping weight off. If you only lose Glycogen and water – you will most likely gain those pounds back very quickly and easily.

When you lift weights and increase muscle mass, you will again increase your metabolic rate and burn more calories throughout your day – resulting in better long term fat loss. Remember slow and steady wins the race when it comes to weight loss, quit looking for quick fixes and get to liftin’ some weights!

Reduce Pain and Increase Strength: Hip and Shoulder Stabilization

Hip and Shoulder Stabilization

The general function of exercise, or weight training specifically, is learning to stabilize yourself in order to move weight from point A to point B safely and effectively.

Main reasons for having a goal of stabilization:

  • Safety – by learning to stabilize yourself and properly engage muscle groups responsible for moving heavy loads you will be protecting the more vulnerable parts of your body that cannot handle heavy lifting and are prone to strain and injury, such as your knees and lower back.
  • Strength – by engaging these larger, more capable muscle groups you are ensuring that they do the brunt of the work and therefore become stronger. This leads to a progressive cycle whereby these muscles are able to move heavier and heavier loads and become even better at protecting vulnerable joints and muscle groups.
  • Functional Movement – in the fitness world this term generally means two things: prioritizing spinal stabilization and then initiating movement from the hips and shoulders; and secondly, movements that translate to everyday life. In the simplest terms, learning to properly squat teaches you how to effortlessly get in and out of a chair, and deadlift teaches you how to safely and effectively pick something up.

As you move throughout your day, understanding and prioritizing stabilization will help you keep you pain and injury free. This also includes sitting and standing still.

Purpose behind hip and shoulder stabilization:

Both the hip and shoulder joints are what are referred to as “ball in socket” joints. This joint system allows for tremendous range of motion and an almost unlimited ability to move freely. But with that freedom of movement, also comes with the opportunity for an injury, especially when the joint is loaded or under tension.

Stabilizing the Hip and Shoulder Joints

These ball in socket joints have the capacity for both internal and external rotation within the socket. A result of this impressive range of motion is that it leaves a great deal of slack in the socket in order to allow these movements. In order to prevent injury while these joints are loaded or under tension it becomes necessary to “take the slack” out of the joint; stabilizing and securing it prior to movement.

Cues for stabilizing the hip socket:

  • Screw your feet to the floor; right food goes clockwise, left foot goes counter-clockwise
  • Imagine there is a crack between your feet and you’re trying to spread it apart.
  • Imagine your feet are on plates and you’re trying to spin them out away from you.

It is important to understand the meaning behind these cues:

  • Your feet are not actually moving.
  • When you say “screw your feet into the floor”, what you are really trying to create is tension in the hip socket through external rotational force of the femur into the pelvis (hip socket) using the floor as resistance.
  • Not only does this tension with the floor create a stable hip joint, but the muscle group responsible for externally rotating your leg is your Glutes, the primary divers of your squat, so by initiating this force of external rotation of your hip you activate your Glute muscles and help organize your squat mechanics.

Cues for stabilizing the shoulder socket:

  • Break the bar in half
  • Screw your hands into the floor
  • Draw your shoulder blades down and together

Defining the cues for shoulder stabilziation:

  • Your hands are no actually moving and you are not physically trying to break a bar in half.
  • The goal is to generate tension in the shoulder socket by attempting to externally rotate the humerus bone into the shoulder socket, using the floor or an object as resistance.
  • Your humerus bone connects to your shoulder blade, therefore tension that is created also stabilizes the shoulder blade and activates the Latissimus Dorsi (Lats), a major muscle that attaches to your shoulder blade and is responsible for movement and stabilization within the shoulder system.

Written by: Jamie Maguire 

 

If you would like to learn more about how stabilizing your Hips and Shoulders can improve your strength and reduce injury; feel free to drop us a line down below! We will get back to you within 24-48 hours!

 

What is Corrective Exercise?

What is Corrective Exercise?

At Innovative Health & Fitness, we specialize in Corrective Exercise and help clients reach their fitness goals safely through proper progression methods, and nutritional guidance. You may be asking yourself, “what’s Corrective Exercise”?

By definition, Corrective Exercise means; “The systematic process of identifying a neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction, developing a plan of action, and implementing an integrated corrective strategy”.

In simple terms, it is the process of fixing the bodies weak muscle groups, and overly-strong muscle groups, that are causing postural and movement dysfunction.

Why do you care?

Every person can and will benefit from Corrective Exercise, while some need to take more time to focus on it, others might need to just make sure they are doing a regular corrective routine to maintain proper function of the body.

If an individual decides they want to start working out and getting back into shape, most of the time they join a gym and go straight for the weights, or cardio machines. While this is better than not doing any sort of activity, if you have not taken the right steps towards correcting the bodies imbalances, you will have a hard time performing exercises correctly, and are on a fast track to injury.

Having guidance through a Corrective Exercise routine designed specifically for you and your imbalances, can assure faster progression, more strength gained in the long-term, and less chance of injury.

Think of it this way, if your natural posture has rounded shoulders, and a shifted pelvis, your form on exercise will mimic that posture. You need to start at a lower intensity level and focus on relaxing your over-active (too strong) muscle groups, and strengthening your weak/non-active muscle groups. Once you have fixed yourself and your body is restored back to a good postural position, you would then be ready to start progressing to more advanced movements such as squats, deadlifts, or running that really burns the calories.

The Problem With Most Personal Trainers

Most personal trainers will skip the corrective exercise stage and jump right into beating up their clients through advanced exercise routines. The reality is, the trainer is actually doing more harm than good to their clients; the clients body will start to remember an even worse movement pattern due to the increase in stress during workouts, and lack of engagement in the correct muscle groups. This will worsen posture and movement over time, leading to injuries later on down the road.

What to do next?

If you’re not sure where to start, have been out of the gym for a while, or live a sedentary lifestyle, you may need some guidance on where to start your fitness journey. If you have tried to get into the routine before, but every year fall into the same pattern of getting out of the habit, we can definitely help you get back on track, the right way.

We teach movement and proper exercise progression, as well as taking the time in the beginning of our training to correct any muscular imbalances you have before progressing you to the next stage of exercise.

It’s time to make a change, and we can help! To receive a complimentary consultation, contact us below or give us a call to learn more!