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!

5 Ways to Avoid Weight Gain During The Holidays

Ah yes, tis’ the season for apple pies, warm bread with butter, family time, and of course we can’t forget some alcohol. Although we all look forward to the holidays, most of us also dread the thought of the expected weight gain from enjoying ourselves, a little too much. 

We’d like to offer you some advice about how to keep off the extra 10-15 pounds most of us put on during this time of the year. These are 5 extremely simple way to avoid weight gain during the holidays.

  1. Track your calories: Yes, download MyFitnessPal and make sure you are keeping track of how much food you’re eating at holiday parties. Even if the food at the party is homemade, you can find the macronutrient breakdown of a food similar and plug it into your food diary. As long as you don’t go over your maintenance calories, you will not gain weight. If you say you don’t have time for this one… you just bein’ lazy ;).
  2. Take a Walk During the Party: Invite your favorite family member to take walks with you around the neighborhood throughout your time at the party. Not only will your family members think its sweet of you to take your grandma out for a walk, you’ll be burning off those sweets in no time!
  3. Stay on Track With Your Workouts: This time of the year is crazy for EVERYONE, don’t think you are in this alone. We all have parties, presents to buy, and people to feed. Despite what life throws at you, you still need to put aside some time to work on yourself, get in the gym and get your workouts done. No matter how busy you are, there is ALWAYS time.
  4. Eat until you’re satisfied, not until you’re full: This one is self-explanatory and all it takes is a little self-discipline to get this one done.
  5. Stay Hydrated: Often times a large percentage of our weight gain over the holidays is water weight. We eat high sodium, carbs and fats which cause our bodies to retain water. You need to increase daily water intake to flush out the excess water retention.

All these are simple, effective, and theres no excuse to NOT do any of the advice stated above. Have fun and enjoy life – while still finding the balance of staying healthy!

Addressing and Overcoming Foot Pain

Chronic foot pain can be one of the more difficult problems that individuals have to deal with these days. It’s all but impossible to avoid using your feet, they’re literally the part of your body that connects you to the ground and all of your body weight rests on. A typical solution for these problems tends to be getting a shoe with more support and padding to protect your foot and wrap it in a cushion, or to install insoles into your shoe that are supposed to create additional support by replacing the things your feet should be doing for themselves like creating an arch. It’s time we ‘take a step back’ from this approach and examine the function of our feet and what a long term solution to foot pain might be.

If you think about what your feet do and the amount of stress you put on them every day, from standing and walking on them, to the types of shoes we wear such as high heels, you might first think that they do in fact need as much protection as you can give them. But the reality is we will always put a lot of strain and pressure on our feet, so maybe a better solution would be to make them as tough and strong as possible in order to handle all that abuse. Because the truth is that when you have pain somewhere, 9 times out of 10 the main solution is going to be that some muscle needs to get stronger. And yes, your foot can be made to be strong.

First things first though, if you’re experiencing foot pain you need to start off by reducing that pain in order to work on foot strength. We have put together a straight forward, 4 step approach to reducing and eventually eliminating foot pain that can be used in conjunction with foot strengthening techniques. Since foot pain is generally caused by weakened and bound up muscles in the foot along with muscle tension in the general area it’s best to start off by reducing the muscle tension in the surrounding area in order to give a little extra slack to the muscles in your foot for when you start directly working on them.

The first thing you want to do is address any tightness in your calf by going after it with a foam roller. The calf connects to the Achilles Tendon which then attaches to your heel, leading into all the tendons and muscles of your foot. Do a thorough job of exploring your entire calf muscle on the foam roller looking for tight spots, from the bottom all the way to the top and from one side to the other. If you find any tight spots roll around right on that area while flexing your foot up and down until the muscle begins to loosen up a bit.

From here you now want to go after any tight or bound up muscles in your foot by rolling out the bottom of your foot on a lacrosse ball or tennis ball. A frozen water bottle will also work. Just like with your calf you’re looking for any excessive tension or tight spots with the ball. Move slowly through both edges of your feet as well as the front of your heel and the ball of your foot, all the while flexing and extending your toes. This will accomplish two main things; breaking up any muscle tension or muscle fibers that have gotten “sticky” and aren’t sliding very well, and also encourage blood flow into the area. Tight muscles means that blood flow is being restricted, which can prevent the muscle from healing fully.

I recommend following all of this up with a good calf stretch just to simply reinforce what you’ve done so far toward encouraging healthy calves and feet without excessive muscle tension. I think it’s helpful to note that there are two main muscle groups in your calf that you want to be stretching. The upper part of your calf will get a stretch if you keep your knee locked out during the stretch in the video, and the lower part of your calf, which connects to the Achilles, will get stretched if you do the stretch with a slightly bent knee.

Once you’ve done this and have hopefully reduced some of the foot pain you feel it’s a good idea to activate the tibialis, the muscle on the front of your shin. This muscle is involved with connecting to the tendons in the foot which help your foot maintain a natural arch. As you can see in the video this is a very simple exercise that does not require any weights, just some type of resistance that you can flex your foot into in order to activate and ultimately strengthen the muscle on your shin, the tibialis. Follow this up with basic glute activation to ensure that the main muscles of your hips are fired up and ready to move you around.

From here you’re off to the races with foot strengthening exercises. A basic towel grab with your toes will help activate the muscles of the foot and get them on the road to being stronger and more resistant to pain brought on by weakness. Single leg exercises like a single leg squat or balance reach will also go a long way toward strengthening the muscles of your foot while they get better at balancing you. And if you’re looking to work extra hard you can try combining the two by performing a single leg balance reach while doing a toe grab with the towel.

I strongly encourage you to get more comfortable with working on foot strength rather than trying to protect them from the harsh reality that is being a foot. Try walking around barefoot for half a day once a week, flexing your toes as you walk around. Over time your foot pain will subside and you will begin noticing a distinct difference in the way you feel and move through your feet.

Put The Pull Back in Your Pull-Up

Pull-ups might be considered the hardest body weight movement exercise that exists. Not only does it challenge your back, arms, and shoulders to raise yourself up to the bar, but the most difficult element is probably how it challenges your core. Once you’re holding onto that bar and your feet leave the floor, gravity begins pulling your entire torso down from your hands. Your torso is now being stretched and lengthening by your own body weight, constricting your abdomen’s free space, leaving your lungs struggling to fill themselves up with air against the weight of your body and gravity pulling everything down and tight.

I’ve thought for a while now that the primary struggle people have with doing pull-ups is not just the lack of strength in being able to pull themselves up to the bar, but from the panic signals being sent from their brain when the lungs suddenly begin to struggle to get oxygen. There are not many exercises that place this demand on your body and mind. Therefore the trainers at Innovative Health and Fitness have come up with a routine to address building up both the physical strength needed to do a pull-up as well as the mental fortitude needed to control yourself in that position.

The best way to get started is by practicing the negative part of the pull-up, a.k.a. the lowering down part, with your feet on the ground. This will get you more familiar and comfortable with your pull-up position while building up strength. Use a smith machine or adjustable squat rack and set the bar at shoulder height. From here get your hands just wider than shoulder width on the bar and set your feet in a squat position under the bar. The pull part of the exercise has you coming out of a squat position bringing the top of your chest to the bar but your legs are doing most of the work. But as you lower yourself down don’t let your legs assist you, instead use your upper body as much as possible to lower you back down into your squat using a slow 5 second count. Practice doing as many reps as you can so you get stronger and feel more comfortable in both the top and bottom positions of your pull-up.

A very straight forward but effective way to build up basic pull-up strength is to do lat pull downs, which basically mimics the movement of a pull-up. Try doing both the traditional wide grip but also the closer, underhand grip, like doing a chin-up, to build up biceps as well.

Once you feel comfortable with the overall form of a pull-up you need to start adding in the element of core strength and stabilization. Inverted rows will address both strength in your back, shoulders, and arms while also challenging the core to keep you engaged and finding a breathing pattern that doesn’t leave your lungs struggling for oxygen. For these you will need to figure out what height to place the bar at depending on your personal strength level. But as you see in the video, your body should be as horizontal as your strength will allow as you row yourself up to the bar. You should be aiming for 10 to 20 reps for these.

Part of getting comfortable with your pull-up position is going to simply be getting used to the feeling of gravity pulling on you from that bar. So practice hanging from the bar. See if you can retract your shoulder blades and engage your grip and shoulders, so rather than “hanging” from you bar you are actually holding yourself in position with control. This is where you can practice breathing in the tight space of your abdomen as well has learning to control the small but deliberate movements of your shoulder blades.

If you notice that grip strength is more than a small issue for you try doing a couple sets of Farmer Carries in between your other exercises. These are pretty straight forward. Grab a pair of heavy dumbbells, and with a straight back and engaged arms and shoulders simply carry them around the gym until your grip begins to give. When it does just put the dumbbells down, give your hands and forearms a quick rest and then do it again. These can be worked into any exercises and be used as an active recovery until your grip strength improves.

Lastly you will need to begin practicing your actual pull-up by using a resistance band for assistance. By this point you should be comfortable with the form of your pull-up, and have attained the grip strength necessary to hold yourself on the bar. Find a band that provides enough support where you can do between 5 and 15 reps. As you can see in the video, use a box or step up in order to safely get your foot into the band before you step off and practice your pull-up. Once you get comfortable with these it’s time to get rid of the band and try a full body weight pull-up, which at this point you will probably be happily surprised that you are much stronger than you expected and are able to perform several pull-ups.

5 Simple Ways To IMMEDIATELY Start Losing Weight

 

Losing weight is often over-complicated by the amount of “fad diets” promoted within the fitness industry. Although some of these diets are good for accountability and consistency – most of them will run you into a quick plateau due to excessively restricting calories for long periods time, leading to a slow metabolism and loss of lean muscle mass.

Innovative Health and Fitness has created a list of simple ways to get you started on your weight loss journey. Remember: no matter what you do – you must end each day in a caloric deficit (eating less than it takes to maintain your weight) in order to lose weight.

5 simple ways to lose weight:

  1. Track Calories: Download a food diary app (MyFitnessPal, Lose it!, etc.) and start tracking your calories each day. Be sure to set your calories accordingly to your goals – the app will help you.
  2. Cut your servings in half – add veggies to make up for the other half you are used to: Reducing your total amount of food each meal will easily put you into a caloric deficit, while adding veggies to each meal will fill you up so you feel as if you ate the same amount!
  3. Increase water intake: Most of us do NOT drink enough water throughout the day – leading to water retention. Holding water makes you feel bloated, along with looking a little more “fluffy”. Increase your water to half your body weight in ounces per day – and you will be sure to lose a few pounds of unnecessary water weight.
  4. Switch to lower calorie options: Although obvious – most people don’t realize how many great, lower calorie options are out there nowadays. For example: instead of ice cream – choose Halo Top (low calorie ice cream) or Vanilla Greek Yogurt with a Fiber One Brownie sprinkled on top. Another great example is choosing Kodiak Cakes (high protein waffle and pancake mix) instead of your regular pancake mix. Dieting doesn’t have to miserable and we live in a great time, with even greater food choices!
  5. Every 3 hours – go for a 10 minute walk: It doesn’t matter how busy you are, we all can afford to take 10 minutes every 3 hours. You’re probably already doing this anyways during work when you get distracted by Instagram and Facebook. You could get in 30-40 minutes of cardio per day without even realizing it, if you spread it out!

Three Reasons Why You Should NOT Hire a Corporate Personal Trainer

 

Hiring the right personal trainer for you is very important, if you end up with the wrong one, you may end up stuck in a contract with them for a long period of time. Although there are TONS of options of where to get a trainer, there are some places you’ll want to stay away from.

Many corporate gyms have set rules that trainers have to follow, even if the instructor has tons of experience and a lot of certifications; they won’t be able to put their knowledge to good use, working as a corporate employee. Here are a few reasons why you SHOULDN’T hire a trainer from a corporate gym.

  1. Corporate structures do not allow for individualized workouts. This means that most of your workouts will be pre-written or picked from a book of workouts that match your description. This does not allow for truly individualized workouts based on your muscular imbalances, fitness goals, flexibility issues, or medical limitations. Although it may feel like a good workout, you may be further engraving muscular imbalances and movement dysfunctions that can lead you down a path to future injuries.
  2. No emphasis on form or muscular imbalance correction. As stated above, you will not receive individualized routines from a corporate structure; this doesn’t allow your trainer to fully correct any muscular imbalances that may be holding you back from having good form on exercises. Since their job is to simply just beat you up and send you on your way, there won’t be any time for them to truly teach you how to move and explain why you’re working out the way that you are. Once your done with your sessions; it will be easy to fall out of the routine due to the trainer not actually showing you how to workout and structure your workouts in an effective way for you personally.
  3. You are just a number. Due to the mass amounts of members within most corporate gyms, personal trainers get flooded with tons of clients. If a trainer is pumping out 10-15 clients per day, at only 30 minutes per session; how do you think that effects the quality of your sessions? Less than an hour sessions are not optimal to for the trainer to warm you up properly, and truly focus on your weak points. The relationship you have with your trainer does truly matter, and if you’re just another number that goes up on the board every month, your trainer most likely is not going to try to hard to get to know you and your goals too well.

Remember, I’m not saying this applies to every single trainer working at a Gold’s Gym , Anytime Fitness, or other corporate facilities  but the majority of the time, these facts are true. Always remember when it comes to personal training, you get what you pay for. The cheap rates at corporate gyms are tempting; but the quality of your sessions will reflect that.

Thanks for reading, if you have any questions regarding personal training; feel free to contact us below!

Innovative Health & Fitness: 12 Week Transformation Contest

 

We have designed a 12 Week Transformation contest for our personal training clients here at Innovative Health & Fitness. The competition will run from January 8th-April 2nd, 2018.

While there is no sign up fee, there are some basic rules:

  • Sign up BY JANUARY 8th
  • Weight and Body Fat % must be taken once per week, consistently either in the morning, afternoon, or evening.
  • Will be divided into Men and Women.

We’re not just doing this for fun and games, since this is a competition, there will be prizes involved.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to get yourself more motivated to reach your goals for 2018! Having prizes at the end will make you more motivated to push a little harder towards your fitness goals.

SIGN UP BELOW! Next time you come in, Jake will take your weight and BF %.

 

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!