Thursday, September 27, 2012

'Text Neck' Why It's Not News and Good Drills and Exercises to Combat It

Just read an article put out by CNN on this new condition that's popping up called "Text Neck". Unfortunately I am going to have to play Buzz Killington here and shoot down the fact that this so called new condition is news, because it really isn't. I think at this point they are just trying to dig for health news, rather than leave it to those whose job it is to put out health related items as such.

They describe Text Neck or TN as I'm going to call it for my own sanity, as having the neck in a forward position and shoulders rounded forward. Correct me if I'm wrong, those of you out there that have been around the block and trained a person or 2, isn't this the same conditioing you get from either sitting at a desk on a computer all day or driving for numerous hours in a week constantly? Pretty sure office cubicles and computers were around far before texing and as for driving, the commercial car came out how many hundreds of years ago? Needless to say this condition has been around for a long time, they just now finally came up with a cool term to attach to it, maybe that's the only bit of news to give to it.

Now to the fun part, how in the holy gods green earth can we combat and or fix this situation TN? Number one is pretty plain and simple, get off of your thinker and start training. We will all be stuck in one of these situations sooner or later, so we have to combat it or you will end up with a really screwed up posture, big green scary block-headed creature comes to mind. Do you drive, write papers or tests, write e-mails or are you on your phone often? Then guess what chief you are in the same pattern, it's probably a solid 90% of America that are in this pattern so you won't be alone, trust me.

Training in general is a good step in the right direction, but it's only going to get you so far. Let's get those shoulders from rolling forward too much. I will post videos if not find videos from others for these. I will post videos of myself or from other professionals to demo this stuff. Take a softball, lacrosse ball or tennis ball and find a wall. Put the ball between you and the wall, and lean on it with the ball placed at the top of your chest, next to your arm pit. Roll yourself around on the ball in the general area, even down to your biceps a bit as well. Do this for about 30 seconds, and if you can stand it, up to a minute.

Next step is to get that area a bit more mobile now that it's not so still. Grab a foam roller, lay on your back and then roll to your side. Bring your top knee up so it and your hips are at about 90 degrees. Place the foam roller under your knee so we don't kick up your back. The arm that's on or closest to the floor should be extended to the sky. Other arm will move in a diagonal pattern from that bent knee to the floor over head, think thumb to knee and then thumb to ground. Don't go too crazy in moving fast as you are probably WICKED (yes it's a thing up here) tight, don't need any accidents here. Do 10 of those each side.

Final step here to fix this little issue is to get some rowing in, lock these muscles into our new posture. In this case I would go with some sort of single arm row; cable row, bench row, bent over row, TRX single arm row (yes it's doable and can be crazy hard, but effective) or whatever single arm row you've invented, really not gonna get too particular here. Get about 8 to 10 reps per side for the row. You can easily work this into any program before a rowing exercise, even if it's a two-arm row, it'll be better than not.

Hopefully this littl blurb educated someone out there and made them healthier. As always any questions, comments or concerns you can contact me directly or you can leave a comment on here. Always open to learning from other, until next time folks, get away from the dreaded TN.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Reason Behind It All

Everyone that has consistently read from this blog in the last month plus knows who the famous Jenn is from my Aug 15th post here.  This past weekend I was invited to attend the wedding of her and her now husband Kevin, also a former client of mine. The wedding was spectacular, the church, if you would want to call it that, absolutely blew my mind. The reception was in a huge ball room and I enjoyed the hell out of consuming a big slab of prime rib. After spending an hour with one and an hour and a half with the other every week for months, I have to say I had never seen them happier than that day.

Again some of you are probably wondering, for the 2nd time in 2 posts, what in the H-E-double hockey sticks does this have to do with training. It's simple really, sorry this will be a bit about tooting my own horn, this has to do with the major reason why other trainers and I all do what we do, or at least I hope is some driving factor. These were 2 very good people that I had the pleasure of training. They both were driven, worked hard, and even a little competitive which kicked things up a little bit. The thought I had of them both being good people was more than confirmed by their friends and family at the wedding.

Being such great people it gave me the old warm and fuzzy feeling at the wedding when everyone asked me how I met the 2 of them, told them the bit and then received many compliments on how good they look with my training's help and how much they saw the change in them beyond the physical. THAT ladies and germs is why I do what I do, yes money is nice, gotta make it to live, the perks are good with free membership to gyms and all the fun toys I get to experiment with, and meeting many great and interesting people is nice as well. At the end of the day though when my training comes back full circle with clients coming back to me or telling others how good they feel and how much happier they are with their lives, that makes all the bad shit you endure worth it. Believe me at the beginning of it all bad shit piles up, obviously internships you are the bottom of the totem pole, and the first job out of the gate you have to endure all kinds of learning curves. In the end, clients being happier and healthier with themselves and having an improved lifestyle, it's what the goal is when it comes to personal training.

To conclude it's simple in the training world, do good to your clients and good will be done in return by them in some shape or another. Congratulations of course need to go out to Kevin and Jenn for a spectacular wedding and wishing them many happy years. I can only hope I find more great clients such as these 2. Next post should be a bit more technical and more related to the actual training so keep your ears pinned to the ground for it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Don't Let it Get the Best of You

For the most part my first run of posts here have had to do with technique, what exercises I like or to do and even a rant or two. Today's flavor is going to be a little more about mind set, mentality and attidude both towards training and life. I'm no expert on either subject, but I've been around for a few years, 26, so I think I've got a few experiences that I can comment to the subject.

The other day it started out not seeming like my day. Went to get gas, no debt card, couldn't find it anywhere. Got to the facility, crap forgot my shorts to workout in. Went to workout, no headphones, stuck with the music from the sound system here. Went to training for Rugby, no mouthpiece in my bag, damn no full-on contact for me. All of these little things could have absolutely derailed my day...if I had let it do so. In all honesty as short as a few years ago I would have thought this to be an absolute terrible day and wanted to just call it a wash. With the right attitude and thought process, glass half full rather than half empty, things worked out. First called my bank and the place I left my card at called and canceled the card for me when they found it, just need to pick up a new one. For the shorts issue, just dashed home and grabbed a pair, easy. Still forgot the headphones, but the tunes weren't too bad for the duration of the workout, just didn't let it mess with my head. For the mouthpiece issue, practice didn't involve a lot of hitting drills, I stayed out of the ones that did for the most part because I'm not playing this weekend due to a wedding of an old client, solved.

Some of you are sitting there and saying what in the holy green hell does this have to do with training? Like the title says, don't let it get the best of you. When you are training, if you can't finish a lift for reasons D, E, F or G (yeah went with a bit more obscure letters), you can do 2 things, you can say I got it next time, focus on the next workout and move forward. The other option is you can let it fester, let it ruin your day and kill your mood. Seriously if you let the little things get to you it can kill your training. Think about it, how many times have you missed a lift, then tried to make it up and do far more than you are use to, then you feel like you are an inch from throwing yourself off the Prudential building and fall off the training wagon.

Now if you have missed the simple message I have been trying to convey it is this. When the small things start to go wrong, don't sweat it. You miss a rep, move on, it's done and over. Just keep moving forward with your training and you will get results. Even if you are like myself and compete against yourself in your workouts, you have to get it through to your ego that dwelling on it can kill the rest of your training for the day, and that can just snow ball into a week, month, or months, even a year...NOT GOOD. Just keep the eyes forward and focus on getting better then next day.

Monday, September 10, 2012

5 Of My Biggest Pet Peaves in the Gym

I use to have a list of these in my head that was pretty consistent when I was first in school and growing up, but between the new place here in Brookline and my old facility in Hudson I think there have been a couple of new ones snaking their way into that list. Not in any particular order, they all frustrate me greatly equally.

1. NO CURLS IN THE SQUAT RACK: Ok so I lied this may take the cake out of all of them, the others are on par with one another, but this takes the cake. Listen up to you lunkheads, I have 2 reasons I almost lose my skull when I see you fools in the squat rack doing curls. First is you probably have never done a chin-up in your life, if you are curling heavy enough weight that requires a squat rack, so until you can finish a chin-up properly (sternum to bar not chin to bar) then knock it off! Second taking up a squat rack now means that someone that actually wants to do something functional has to either wait for your sorry carcas to finish or they have to go dangerously mickey mouse something to do a squat. Bottom line STOP!

2. PUT THE PHONE AWAY: Hey Hollywood put your phone away and get to work. Coming into the gym and training should be something you take seriously and should concentrate on. On your phone constantly texting, or even talking on it, (yes I saw someone doing seated rows still chatting away one day) absolutely means that you are not focused on your training. There is no way that you can possibly be working hard enough to perform a resistance exercise with enough difficulty to see gains and yammer away. End of the day, either tell the people texting you to buzz off because you are working out or don't use your phone as your music source.

3. PICK UP YOUR EQUIPMENT: Just the other day I saw someone leave a long foam roller right out in the middle of the dumbbell area here in Brookline. I almost Bruce Bannered it and snapped right there. I really shouldn't need to say much more. Leaving stuff around like that is plain and simple dangerous period...check that EXCLAMATION POINT! It is just simple courtesy and good edecate to pick up after yourself, pretty sure our parents all taught us this.

4. RACK YOUR WEIGHT: This kind of falls under the same heading as number 3, but I'm throwing it in as it's own because I can and it's my blog so there. Having to go chase down weights because someone else has pulled them to some other piece of equipment, useless or not, and did not put them back absolutely drives me wild. Whether it's during my workout or if I have to go chase them down for a client, it simply consumes time. That's time that I will not have the rest of the day, most of us that actually try to pack their schedule and make as many people as possible move and feel better, while still trying to do the rest of our normal life stuff, need all the time we can get. Like I said, remember what your parents taught you and put the freaking weights back on the rack you got it from, it will keep everyone far more sane.

5. DON'T SMASH THE DUMBBELLS: Just this A.M. I was training a client and from the other side of the PT studio room door I could hear someone doing some sort of dumbbell press and smashing them together at the top. This is not only annoying but it is a huge safety issue. When you slam the dumbbells together, especially the heavier ones, you are loosening the welds and/or the bolts that hold them together. Yes I know things like this will eventually happen but there is no reason to speed up the process, just extend the arms as far as you can without hitting them together, it is possible. It might sound cool, but won't be cool is if the freakin thing comes loose and smashes into your skull, you'll be lucky if you just end up with a brain injury or fractured skull. On that note it baffles me that when people know that the weights are coming loose they still make it a point to slam them together. I almost have half a thought to go over and let it drop on them, but then I think about the law suits and not training any more, on top of the assault/manslaughter charge that might get pinned on me, so I just take out my frustration on some cleans or deadlifts later that day.

Just try to keep these in mind the next time you go to the gym. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person/trainer that gets annoyed by these so just some food for thought.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Squats and Leg Press:Do They do the Same Thing?

I was at my new facility in Brookline last week getting in some early training sessions before things really start to ramp up the schedule, I observed a guy doing leg press and I was in the middle of a set of tempo back squats, yeah let’s not talk about how much those hurt. I could get into the benefits of controlling the eccentric action in a squat or any exercise. I could get into how much I hate having your knees being forced into your chest without the proper amount of mobility makes, while making me cringe and lose my sanity. Instead I’d like to compare the two exercises being performed by the other guy and myself.

Putting it in simple terms, they both work the same muscles when done correctly, except one thing, Erector Spinae, the muscle, actually group of muscles, that run right up and down the middle of your back. These muscles’ primary function is to extend your body at all three sections of the spine, cervical, thoracic and lumbar.

When you lay on a leg press it stabilizes your back, and Erector Spinae, for you, when you do a squat, you are forced to do it yourself or you are going to do a face plant like you’ve gone beyond the legal limit walking on cobblestone. A few of you are probably sitting there with the thought, “Putting back muscles under stress is an easy way to mess your back up isn’t it?” Yes it is, if you use form that’s bad enough to make me want to gouge my eyes out. Actually if you don’t load your back muscles correctly then you can eventually end up with a case of Kyphosis, to put it simply, think Quasimoto from the bell tower. Working your Erector Spinae, as well as other major upper back muscles will help you hold your spine upright. You don't want curves to your back, they are natural and let you bear weight onto your shoulders and such, but there is defiantly such thing as too much here. No one wants to end up being that ugly son of a gun ringing the bell in Paris. Other exercises that work this muscle group are pretty much any deadlift variation and good mornings. There are a few situations I would consider using a leg press for my legs, inexperience, coming off an injury and I can go on, but that’s not enough for me to switch.

Since you are all now informed next time you think about working your legs and face the decision of squat or leg press, make the decision that’s going to keep you upright.

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