Often Neglected But So Important: Grip Strength

Adequate grip strength is important not only for strength training but also for life. It’s true! There are many longitudinal studies that have looked at grip strength and mortality. The results all come to the same conclusion.

“Grip strength is a simple but powerful predictor of future disability, morbidity, and mortality. The relation between grip strength and future mortality has been shown often. Not only in older people but also in middle-aged and young people. The evidence has been summarized in systematic reviews and in a meta-analysis.”

The Lancet,(2015)

Hand strength is typically used as a measure of overall strength is research. In part, because it’s quick, easy to administer, and extremely cost effective. The association between grip strength and mortality is often used to underscore the importance of resistance exercise.

Ten of the Better Exercises for Improving Grip Strength

Any exercise that requires holding a barbell, kettlebell, dumbbell, or bodyweight, will develop hand and arm strength to some extent. There are certain exercises, however, that are better than others if you’re looking to getting stronger in this area. The first exercise that comes to mind is loaded carry. Here are just a few of the many great exercises you can try:

  • Loaded Carry – This is where you walk with either dumbbells, kettlebells, Hex bar or plates in each hand for time or a specific distance. A suitcase carry is where you load only one side of the body like carrying a suitcase. Ideal for developing full body strength but especially your grip.
  • Plate Pinch – Performed as the name implies. Pick up and hold weight plates in one or both hands for a specific amount of time. Progress from one to two smaller plates before moving to heavier Olympic style plates.
  • Deadlift – Perform as shown in the Jefit photo via the link.
  • Fat Bar Reverse Curl – As the name implies. A thicker bar will recruit more of the muscles in the lower arm that are so important in order to build strength in the four layers of muscles that make up your forearm.
  • Pull-ups/Chin-ups with a towel – When you need to progress from traditional pull-ups or chin-ups, try performing both with a towel hanging over the bar while grasping both ends with your hands. From here you could then progress to a weighted version of both exercises.
  • Sled Pulls – Once again, using a rope or towel. Similar set-up as above but your just pulling in a different direction getting to use that strong, lower extremity of yours.
  • Barbell Finger Rolls – A nice variation to the Plate Pinch, this is where you pick up a heavy plate in each hand. Next, let your fingers slowly extend, lowering the plates toward the floor. Finally, flex the fingers pulling the plates back into the hand. You can progress to a Carry while you do this.
  • Sorinex Gripper – An old Strongman exercise – seen in action here: Grip product
  • Dead Hang – Perform off a pull-up bar for sets of 30/45/60 second – using both arms and eventually progress to making it happen with a single arm. This is great for improving grip strength.
  • Dumbbell Head Grab – A personal favorite of mine. Place two smaller size dumbbells on their sides so one head is facing up. Take hold of the heads with a fully open grip lifting both dumbbells of the floor and hold for 30-seconds. If you have been working out for a while try doing this with either a 35-40 pounds dumbbell for sets of 20-30 seconds. As with some of the other exercises, progress by moving from a standing position to a walk, to squatting or lunging. Enjoy!

Get Strong with Jefit

Join the more than nine million members who’ve had great success using the Jefit app. The award-winning app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

Do This Quick Warm-up Before Strength Training

blank

There is not a person on this planet who does not want to improve their training output in the gym. Many people typically do just a few quick stretches or repetitions of the upcoming exercise and that’s it. A specific warm-up preceding strength training – geared towards individual needs – improves how your body feels and moves in a workout. Period. This so-called warm-up box should always be checked prior to any strength training session. If you want to get more out of the workout that is.

The key is to first find what works for your body. Some gym-goers require an easy dynamic warm-up to break a sweat, while another responds to targeted mobility work. This in turn, opens up tight, restricted muscle and connective tissue. Sometimes a few warm-up sets prior to lifting just doesn’t do the trick. The following sequence is great to do before any strength or cardio workout. It is specifically targeted to prepare the thoracic spine, commonly referred to as the T-spine, for the upcoming workout.

The majority of Americans, both young and old, spend hours each day sitting. As a result, muscles shorten and connective tissue (fascia) becomes restrictive. A quick mobility series like this one will increase blood flow to these areas and as a result you’ll feel, move and lift better in the workout.

Try This Warm-up Before Strength Training

Take a pair of tennis balls and either tape them together with electrical tape or place them in a sock and tie off the end. There is also a product you can purchase called a peanut that will also work nicely. The idea is to place the tennis balls in contact with your back. Each of the tennis balls end up on the left and right sides of your erector spinae muscles away from your spine. Then lie down on it. Begin at the first thoracic vertebrae below the seventh cervical, where when you flex your neck you can feel the “bump” and slowly move (“roll”) down towards your lumbar spine. Spend about 30-45 seconds manipulating the tennis balls into the muscle before moving down 1-2 inches. There are twelve thoracic vertebrae so you will need to reposition your body that many times. View the the following Instagram clip to see how to correctly position your body and perform the exercise.

Easy 3-Step Thoracic Mobility Series

After you spend a few minutes having fun with your tennis balls, try these three mobility movements. The idea is to “insert here” the specific mobility drill your body may need. I’m showing you just one area (thoracic spine), it may be a different area altogether, like the hips, shoulder – whatever. Check out the following Instagram clip on how to perform each movement in this 3-step mobility series. Below are pictures (start/finish) of each of the three movements that make up this mobility series.

Kneeling Thoracic Rotation (start/finish)

blank

Start

blank

Finish (end point)

Side-Lying Thoracic Rotation

blank
blank

Supine Thoracic Rotation (Windmill)

Note: The finish (end point) should be (eventually) with the lower leg making contact with the foam roller (looks like somebody is tight in that photo). You can also use a yoga block, small medicine ball or whatever else is of similar height to support the leg. Finally, you can also perform this particular movement on your side with the hips and knees kept at right angles without the aid of any props. The arms are positioned the same way and the movement occurs in the same manner as pictured.

blank
blank

Mobility Warm-up Before Strength Training (Prescription)

Week 1-2: Perform 4-6 repetitions x 1 (3x/week)

Week 3-4: Perform 8-15 repetitions x 2 (4x/week)

Just a week of incorporating these movements into your warm-up or post workout will lead to a big pay off. You will notice your body feels and moves much better, even after the first session. Enjoy the additional freedom of movement you’re going to get if you make this a regular occurrence.

Jefit was recently named one of the best fitness apps by eftm.com and PC Magazine for 2021. Jefit is a workout app for gym and home. It helps you plan and stick to your workouts on a regular basis. While there are already over 3800 complete training routines available, it also comes with a customizable gym workout planner. This way you can personalize your own regime that works with your specific fitness goals. Stay strong!

blank

A Foam Roller is an Affordable & Versatile Product

There are literally hundreds of fitness products you can choose to use. There is one product, however, that won’t break the bank, reduces stiffness, and can be used either at home or in the gym. The product is a foam roller. Not only is it affordable, it’s extremely versatile in the right hands. The foam roller gained popularity back in the 1980’s thanks to a physical therapist who brought it into the mainstream from the world of clinical rehabilitation.

Why use a foam roller? Because it can be used to prepare the body for exercise, it’s a great recovery aid, effective as a massage tool, improves mobility, and keeps connective tissue, like fascia, healthy.

Use a Foam Roller as Part of Your Dynamic Warm-up

Before your next strength workout try incorporating a few dynamic warm-up movements. Then use a foam roller for 5-10 minutes, to “roll-out” some tight areas, and see how you feel afterwards. More importantly, notice the difference in the way you feel during your workout. We have a tendency to sit for prolonged periods of time throughout the day. As a result, muscles and connective tissue become tight and restricted. Overtime, this negatively affects your posture, the way you move, and how you perform in workouts! Regular bouts of foam rolling can help offset these issues and more.

blank

Incorporate a Foam Roller into Your Recovery Process

Another benefit of using a foam roller is it has the potential to help the body recover faster from a workout. Foam rolling can decrease the “perception of pain” that the body may be experiencing from overtraining. It targets the myofascial network in the body, helping to reduce trigger points and release restrictive connective tissue and muscle.

The body has a tendency to experience delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) from an intense workout. A 2015 study in the Journal of Athletic Training suggested that foam rolling after intense exercise is a great way to reduce soreness and help with recovery. The study looked at college-aged males and showed those who foam rolled post exercise, were able to perform better at 24, 48 and 72 hours after exercise that induces soreness. And a comprehensive review published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy reported foam rolling promotes short-term increases in range of motion.

Finally, a meta-analysis, published in the Frontiers in Physiology (2019) showed foam rolling had a positive effect on performance and recovery. This particular review of 21 research studies and 451 subjects, also showed better results were exhibited during a warm-up phase rather than as a recovery component of an exercise session.

Foam rolling is not the be-all-end-all when it comes to fitness products but you can definitely benefit from regular use, before and/or after a workout. Give it a try and experience the benefits yourself.

Use the Award-Winning Jefit App

Jefit was recently named one of the best fitness apps by eftm.com and PC Magazine for 2021. Jefit is a workout app for gym and home. It helps you plan and stick to your workouts on a regular basis. While there are already over 3800 complete training routines available, it also comes with a customizable gym workout planner. This way you can personalize your own regime that works with your specific fitness goals. Stay strong!

References

Pearcey, G.E.P., Bradbury-Squires, D.J., Kawamoto, J.E., Drinkwater, E.J., Behm, D.G. & Button, D.C. (2015). Foam rolling for delayed-onset muscle soreness and recovery of dynamic performance measures. Journal of Athletic Training, 50(1): 5-13.

Cheatham, S.W., Kolber, M.J., Cain, M., & Lee M. (2015). The effects of self‐myofascial release using a foam roll or roller massager on joint range of motion, muscle recovery, and performance: a systematic review. Int J Sports Phys Ther., 10(6): 827–838.

Wiewelhove, T., et al. (2019). A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Foam Rolling on Performance and Recovery. Front. in Physiol. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2019.00376



blank

How To Use Jefit App To Change The Way You Look

blank

Out with the old and in with the new, a new body that is. Nothing like the start of the New Year to get someone excited about the possibilities of looking and feeling better than 2020. A strong body and a healthy immune system are at the top of everyones list for 2021. Especially with the pandemic still in full swing. This article takes a look at how to use Jefit app to improve the way you look and feel for the new year. A year that will be important, more than ever, to stay strong physically and mentally.

Another Success Story Using Jefit App

It takes a great deal of focus and dedication to actually change the way someone looks and feels. Many have been making this happen, though, with the help of the Jefit app, like Steven Duckwiler who was previously featured by Jefit, found here. Most recently, we have Kent Koehler, another Jefit member, who also has made significant strides in changing his body. Congratulation Kent!

What Members Like About Jefit?

Kent Koehler has been using the Jefit app to help him plan and track his workouts since 2014. Kent mentioned, that he used the Jefit app on and off for about 3 years. He never realized the full potential of the apps ability. By January 2017, he started “leaning on Jefit heavily” each day. “Haven’t stopped since. Used daily and is a powerful daily tool in this journey”. 

We asked Kent what he liked specifically about using the Jefit app. He stated that what he really loved was the “the versatility” of the app. He went on to say he liked: “Routines, logging, history and the ability to focus on a bulking, cutting, HIIT. History helps you see the change and realize the progress. The exercise log is wealthy. When an exercise is not there, it can easily be created. You can make an exercise, link to where you found it, and log notes to makes it as complete as it can get personally. 

blank

Jefit Contests

“The contest are good. Motivation at every corner. The contests pushes you to earn and not skip. Consistently earning Jefit iron points benefits me by access and more importantly my goals. The social aspect is fun. The people on here have a common goal to improve their life. Earning better health and looks. So 99 percent are on here to learn, share, and ‘lift’ others up. Solid good motivation. Sometimes you get a comment that can make your day. Other times I am commenting to praise someone without the pressure of trying to creep or hook up. Good, solid support for one another with the right intentions. Feels good to compliment hard work and dedication. Sometimes a compliment is needed and reassurance for someone working hard”. 

What a Typical Week Looks Like for Kent

I stepped into the gym (in 2016) and have not stopped since. Nutrition, exercise, body building has been every day. Few misses, but it is rare and only when I’m exhausted that day.  I workout 7 days a week 99 percent of the time. Some times twice. I do separate body parts on various days and allow rest. Typically, I move between bulking, cutting, and other routines on the app. 

Usually I follow a program 4 to 6 weeks. My goal is to hit cardio, core, and strength each visit to the gym. For a long time I made myself earn my weights with cardio goals first to burn fat. I also focus on heavy training on core, every day. Makes all the difference. My goal is building a better body all together. I now take nothing other than a multivitamin, glucosamine for joint health, and fish oil. I am no longer taking any medications!

Thoughts on Nutrition

What is a typical diet like? Pretty controlled. I stick with my macro goals. Pretty strict through the week. Little relaxed on the weekend. Make sure I stay within range of daily calories. 

To date Kent has lost more than 95 pounds. Amazing job Kent and we here at Jefit wish you continued success and a healthy 2021.

blank

Jefit is a workout app, for both home and the gym, that will keep you on track with your fitness goals. It has the largest exercise library complete with free workout routines to help mix up your training. It also gives you the ability to update and share your workout log with the community. With Jefit on your phone, you will be hitting your fitness goals in no time at all. Stay strong with Jefit!

blank

3 Ways to Burn More Calories in the New Year

blank

Out with the old and in with the new. Looking to make 2021 the year that you change the way you look and feel? For that to really happen, you may just need a bit more dedication. Let’s take a look at how your body can burn additional calories each day.

Your body continually expends calories, every minute of every hour of every day. Even while you’re sitting reading this.

You will be happy to know that we burn calories even while we sleep. In one study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, two groups of overweight non-smokers were followed for a two-week period. One group slept 8.5 hours a night and a second group slept 5.5 hours while both groups ate about 1,500 calories a day. After two weeks, the people who slept more lost more fat than the group who slept less. Even more amazing was the fact that subjects who slept less lost more muscle (60 percent more muscle was lost by the sleep-deprived group). Those three hours of lost sleep caused a shift in metabolism that made the body want to preserve fat at the expense of lean muscle.

This same study showed that test subjects burned on average 400 more calories by sleeping 3 more hours – that’s an additional 2,800 calories burned for just one week. Think of sleeping as an extra calorie burning bonus. Here are three additional ways your body can expend more calories each day:

1. Building More Muscle Increases your Resting Metabolic Rate. 

2. Performing Higher Intensity Workouts will Increase your EPOC.

3. Adding More “Movement” will Increase your NEAT level.

“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”  

Plato

Build More Muscle

Regular strength training sessions (3x/week) will overload your muscles and the stress (overload) placed on your muscles will eventually adapt and become stronger. As strength increases, the body can handle heavier loads and over time you will experience an increase in lean muscle, as long as you get adequate sleep and nutrition. Research has demonstrated that for every three pounds of muscle you add, your resting metabolic rate increases by about 6-7 percent. An elevated metabolism means you burn calories at a faster rate at rest and during activity.

Benefits of EPOC

Supplementing high intensity strength and cardio sessions into your weekly exercise routine will not only burn more calories during a workout but post workout as well. This is commonly referred to as the after-burn or in scientific research circles as EPOC or excess post oxygen consumption. If the intensity is high enough you have the potential to expend a few hundred calories up to about 24 hours post workout. EPOC depends on the intensity and duration of the exercise session; as they increase so does EPOC.

Take Advantage of NEAT

A study published in Science by Dr. James Levine took 20 “couch potatoes” (10 lean and 10 mildly obese) and recorded their bodily movements every half second for 10 days. He discovered that leaner subjects burned about 350 more calories a day through NEAT or non-exercise activity thermogenesis or about 33 pounds a year.

In a second NEAT study, Levine recruited 16 volunteers and for 8 weeks had them eat 1,000 calories a day over what they needed to maintain their weight. You might expect that all of the subjects put on weight—with 1,000 extra calories a day. But at the end of the study, the gain per individual ranged from less than 1 pound to greater than 9 pounds. And the variation, according to Levine, was explained by the amount of NEAT. A highly active person can expend three times more calories than an inactive person and NEAT levels can vary up to 2000 calories between individuals.

If you’re not seeing changes in body composition with your current program, take a look first at how you’re fueling your body. Secondly, increase your intensity with your cardio sessions and start building more muscle. Lastly, increase your daily movement and some NEAT things will begin to happen.

Use Jefit to Track Your Progress

Do what millions of others have already done, use Jefit as their workout log app. This in turn, will help you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

Reference

Nedeltcheva AV, Kilkus JM, Imperial J, Schoeller DA, and Penev PD (2010). Insufficient Sleep Undermines Dietary Efforts to Reduce Adiposity. Annals of Internal Medicine 153(7):435-441.

blank

What Happens to Your Body When You Binge on Added Sugar?

We know how much our senses love something sweet but at the same time we’re aware it’s not the best food choice. It’s the Holiday season, though, so it’s ok to eat a little added sugar, right? Like Mom says, “everything in moderation”. Not everyone has the will power or self-control to eat just one though. One statistic that I’ve read shows 74 percent of packaged foods contain added sugar. Even though we have seen a 15 percent decrease in added sugar consumption since 1999, according to government data, the typical person still eats about 94 grams (or 375 calories) on a daily basis (U.S. Department of Agriculture).

If you know you’re the type of person, who has control issues, then it’s probably easier, and healthier, to avoid certain snacks and desserts altogether. After a few weeks you won’t even crave it.

Have you ever wondered what actually happens inside your body when you do go overboard and eat one too many chocolate chips cookies? Feel free to substitute cookies for ice cream, pizza, fast food etc. Whatever your “fix” is. They all have added sugar and maybe knowing more of what happens to your body, will make you pause and think twice about eating it. Let’s note that we’re not talking about one item or a typical portion size. That’s ok. It’s only when you go overboard, on a regular basis, that you should be concerned. This is where diet can begin to affect overall health. If your physician has mentioned that your A1C level is getting high, then you have been warned. Get your house in order or you may end up becoming a diabetic or worse.

How Added Sugar Affects Your Body

  • We consume food that is high in added sugar on a daily basis.
  • Carbohydrates are what cause blood sugar to rise. It’s is important to eat protein and fiber with carbs.
  • The body breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars and away they go into the bloodstream.
  • As a result, the body releases insulin, which is a hormone produced by your pancreas.
  • Insulin’s role is to absorb excess glucose in the blood and stabilize sugar levels.
  • Insulin helps blood sugar enter the body’s cells so it can be used for energy.
  • The amount of insulin released usually matches of glucose in the blood stream.
  • Once insulin does its job, your blood sugar drops again (the result though is you feel “drained” following the sugar rush).
  • Repeated blood sugar spikes, many times a day, over time leads to an increase in stored body fat (typically around the abs in men & hips in women).
  • Over time, cells stop responding to all that insulin – because they’ve become insulin resistant.
  • Finally, your body can’t lower blood sugar effectively leading to type 2 diabetes.

A Few Interesting Facts About Added Sugar

  • Eating too much sugar initially causes a spike in insulin while elevated, long-term levels can lead to kidney damage.
  • Added sugar causes a surge in feel-good brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin. So does using certain drugs, like cocaine. When you consume too much added sugar over time, you end up wanting more of it (just like certain drugs). Your body gets addicted to it.
  • One study of more than 3,500 people found that those who drank 34 ounces (about 1 liter) of water a day were 21 percent less likely to have issues with high blood sugar than those who drank 16 ounces (473 ml) or less a day.
  • A second study showed subjects who got 17-21 percent of their calories from added sugar had a 38 percent risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed 8 percent of their calories from added sugar. The risk was more than double for those who consumed 21 percent or more of their calories from added sugar.
  • Men who consumed 67 grams or more of sugar per day were 23 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression in a five-year period than men who ate 40 grams or less.
  • One study from UC San Francisco found that drinking sugary drinks, like soda, ages our body on a cellular level as quickly as cigarettes can.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average American consumes 156 pounds of added sugar per year.

How Much Added Sugar Should We Eat?

Added sugars can come in more than 60 different forms and it’s hidden in just about everything you eat. Added sugar is found in a wide range of foods, from ketchup to fruit-based yogurt to (sadly) sports drinks like Gatorade. In terms of how much we eat, the American Heart Association suggests that men consume no more than 150 calories (about 9 teaspoons or 38 grams) of added sugar per day. That is close to the amount in a 12-ounce can of soda. Women should try to eat less than 100 calories (or 25 grams) of added sugar per day. It may seem easy to do but keep in mind a bar of chocolate and a can of soda will already put you at 75 grams.

Keep in mind added sugar is much different than natural sugar found in fruit. It’s fructose, yes, but it also has fiber. This in turn helps release sugar slowly into the blood stream compared to the spike you get after eating half a dozen chocolate chip cookies.

Your Brain on Too Much Sugar

Eating too much added sugar affects just about every cell and organ in the body and the brain is no exception. Previous research indicates that a diet high in added sugar reduces the production of a brain chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Without BDNF, our brains can’t form new memories and we can’t learn (or remember) much of anything. There is also additional research, published in the journal, Peptides, showing chronic consumption of added sugar dulls the brain’s mechanism for telling you to stop eating.

Hopefully this article sheds more light on the pitfalls of eating too much added sugar. You can pick your poison, it leads to weight loss, brain fog, low energy, oral health issues, you name it. Eating added sugar in moderation is fine. Too much of it though will lead to a multitude of health issues including insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Physical activity and regular strength training makes you more sensitive to insulin, one reason why it’s a cornerstone of diabetes management. Focus on maintaining a healthy bodyweight and body fat level. Basically, a healthy, sustainable, lifestyle will do the trick. It’s the best way to keep blood sugar levels where they need to be.

Use Jefit

Try doing what millions of others have already done, use Jefit as their workout log app. This in turn, will help you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

blank

Exercise Guidelines to Keep You Strong as You Age

blank

We all have different needs when it comes to exercise and those needs continue to change as we age. When was the last time you really thought seriously about your exercise routine? More importantly, are you experiencing gains with the current program you’re on? Maybe gains came easy when you were younger. What worked once, however, for whatever reasons does not seem to work as good now.

First, celebrate your success. You have continued to exercise all these years and that’s a good thing even if – at times – it may not be as evident when you step onto your bathroom scale. Keep in mind, more than 30 percent of Americans do not exercise at all and only about 5 percent of the population exercise at what is considered a vigorous level. Approximately 69 percent of Americans are currently overweight or obese.

All the work you’ve put in has done wonders for your body, mind, and spirit. More specifically, it has helped maintain your strength and lean muscle levels. A loss of muscle tissue occurs, for those who do not exercise, at a rate of about half a pound a year or roughly 5 pounds per decade. As this happens, a few of the many by-products are loss of strength, power and balance.

Use It Or Lose It

The average person who does not exercise regularly, experiences an 8 percent drop in their strength level per decade. By the time someone reaches age 65 they have about 25 percent less strength compared to when they were 30 years old. On the aerobic side of things you lose about 10 percent of your aerobic capacity each decade after age 40. There is potential to lose as much as 25 percent of bone in both sexes, as a result of inactivity, sitting too much and menopausal changes in women. With all this decline comes balance issues and additional problems with functionality, that could ultimately lead to a loss of independence.

Write down what you and your body really need as you get ready to enter 2021. What are you truly looking to accomplish with all the time you invest in yourself doing exercise and trying to eat healthier? You don’t own it until you write it down.

Needs Assessment

Prior to beginning any type of exercise program, it is essential that you undergo a needs assessment. The goal of this analysis is to create clearly defined goals that will help you make the most progress from your training. Ask yourself, what does your body really need at this point in time? Maybe you need more mobility work and less pounding (running) or loading (lifting weights). You may have been doing a lot of strength or cardio work but how is your balance? When was the last time you treated yourself to a good massage or took a yoga class? Find out what you need (by testing yourself) and set a few short and long-term goals.

Test Yourself Periodically

Work with a coach and complete an assessment to determine where you currently stand in the following areas below. Ask yourself: How do you judge improvement if you don’t measure it? Visit our Jefit Coach to help.

  • Body Composition
  • Strength
  • Power
  • Aerobic/Anaerobic ability
  • Mobility
  • Flexibility
  • Balance
blank

Exercise Program

This is where most of us get lost and end up wasting a lot of time. The first goal is to find out what’s tight and lengthen it and then what’s weak and strengthen it. This will ultimately help you move and lift better in the gym. The second goal is to move better, also known as movement competency. Once an individual can execute a movement efficiently with a full range of motion (that is unrestricted), like a Squat or Deadlift, then and only then should the volume (sets x reps x load) be increased. When someone cannot execute a particular movement pattern correctly, do not increase repetitions, the number of sets or especially the load. Anyone who is loading tight, stiff muscles is basically an accident waiting to happen, it’s only a matter of time until you’ll need to take time off!

Focus on the primary movement patterns below using the “Big 6” as part of your primary strength routine and don’t sweat the small stuff.

  • Squat
  • Hip Hinge
  • Carry
  • Lunge
  • Push
  • Pull

A well-designed exercise program should improve mobility, increase strength, power, improve cardiovascular fitness and more. A strength and conditioning program should change body composition by way of adding lean muscle tissue and decreasing body fat. Balance should also improve in addition to flexibility and mobility. You must add time to your workout though to address it. But you won’t know if you’re improving if you don’t periodically measure it. Has this been an issue for you?

Focus on adding in a bout of sprint work to your weekly cardio routine. This should come in the form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). A few examples would be sprinting, cycling or rowing. Place more emphasis on quality rather than quantity when doing HIIT and remember, the key is manipulating the intensity as you get better at it.

Finally, focus on doing more mobility work each time you exercise and make it part of your recovery process on off days. These guidelines will help keep you strong and functional through the aging process.

Potential Prescription Ideas

  • Strength training (Big 6) 2-3x/week.
  • Fitness: Elevate your heart rate 2-3x/week for 15-30:00 (wear a heart rate monitor). Add HIIT at least once a week.
  • Power: work on vertical or horizontal jumping 1x/week (jump rope, box jumps, DOT drills, etc.)
  • Add more mobility work (via movements and foam roller etc.).
  • Baseline/Follow-up Assessment
  • Try Yoga

Use Jefit to Help Track Progress and More

Jefit is a workout log app that helps you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

blank

Is Strength Training and HIIT an Ideal Combo?

blank

It’s a constant exploration, trying to find the ideal combination of weekly workouts to help you lose weight, get stronger, feel better, and so on! So, regardless of what your stance is on strength training, or the use of slow reps to make you stronger, or just cardio, cardio, cardio, here is the case for high-intensity interval training or HIIT and strength training as the ideal training combo.

The HIIT Revolution

High-intensity interval training has made a lot of headlines in recent years, and there have been countless fitness routines and regimes designed to take advantage of this high-intensity aspect. But why does high-intensity training work so well? It all goes back to that age-old approach to building muscle by putting your body under a lot of duress. In doing such an intense amount of exercise, you aren’t just going for a basic run; you are pushing your body to the limit. Many say that cardio is only effective if you do it for a long period of time. With respect to HIIT, it’s all about utilizing the right intensity. Similarly to what felt at the end of a road race, but in the space of 10-20 minutes. One of the great things about HIIT is the more intense the effort the shorter the workout needs to be.

“HIIT is the closest thing we have to an exercise pill.”

Martin Gibala, PhD, Researcher and Author, The One-Minute Workout

The HIIT Basics

For those that are unaware of HIIT, the basic premise is that you mix short bouts of intense exercise with longer periods of recovery. This is repeated for a specific duration. An example would be a period of time where you are working at 60 to 70 percent intensity, for a few minutes. And then, the next 30-60 seconds you would go “all-out,” at 100%! After that intense interval, your’e back at a moderate intensity, and continue using this undulating format for a specific duration. A few examples of this type of training include Insanity (bodyweight) workouts and P90X (using dumbbells) to offer a better picture.

There are many benefits to this type of training. One such benefit is that it’s a perfect choice for those who don’t have a lot of time to exercise. This is why it is such a useful component in modern exercise because many people can’t dedicate 5 or 6 sessions a week to commit to workout. But as an entryway into intense exercise, it is a perfect method for you to build up your resilience to strenuous exercise. Keep your HIIT to initially to 1-2 sessions a week. This leads us nicely to adding-in the next component, making this an ideal combination each week.

Strength Training

Strength training has become the most vital component of a workout routine. Now, as people are more obsessed with the aesthetics of exercise, flat abs, toned arms, etc., strength training is a fundamental component of getting this right. There are lots of workouts that focus heavily on strength training where are you perform compound exercises like, squat, bench press, barbell row, overhead press and deadlift. This type of protocol with these specific strength training exercises are usually done three times a week, meaning you’ve got time to live your life! But, it also gives you the opportunity to recover.

The main idea with this particular strength training format is that you start off light, but every time you complete the amount of repetitions required, you add 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs) to the weight. So, there’s going to be a point where you will definitely plateau. As a result, this is one of the best ways to improve strength and other facets of your workout. And everybody can benefit from strength training. Many people, however, skip compound movements and focus on various isolation exercises instead.

The benefit of this type of strength training is that it forces the body to adapt and as a result, muscle and connective tissue become stronger. And because you are lifting so heavy, it places your body under the required amount of stress you need to build more muscle. And this is why it’s such a beneficial workout. Those who have been exercising for years may not feel the benefits as much, but for those who are looking for a perfect starting point to build muscle and strength, this is it. And when this gets combined with HIIT, you’ve got the perfect training package.

Combining HIIT and Strength

Going back to Insanity and P90X, these are good examples of strength training and HIIT working in tandem. Although Insanity is all about using your bodyweight, if you were to swap in free weights, as with P90X, and do HIIT in between those workout days, you’ll end up with a fat torching combo! The intensity of lifting heavy forces your body to recruit more muscle fiber, and it also helps with weight loss, because you increase your overall caloric expenditure. When you add high-intensity interval training, as in the form of Tabata sprints, it becomes a powerful combination. But be warned. Trying to implement both is a fantastic way for you to lose weight if you need it. Doing both together, though, is a very difficult thing indeed, and if you are trying something new like Insanity, it can be really challenging on your body.

The results will speak for themselves, although you should try it out, and build up a resilience to it, before implementing the other workout. The thing about both of these is that once your endurance improves, you will be able to push yourself even further in a workout. Naturally, there will be points when you plateau, but as a way to build strength and work capacity, you are going to be unstoppable if you do it right!

Use Jefit App to Plan & Track Workouts

Jefit is a workout log app that helps you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

blank

All You Need To Know For Effective Fat Loss

blank

If you want to lose body fat, you’re not alone. However, effective fat loss can seem impossible at times, especially if you try to overcomplicate things. Many magazines, articles, Instagram “experts” and YouTubers like to share their opinions on the matter, and this can make it seem even more complicated. Below, you’ll find four simple things that you need to remember for effective fat loss. Stick to them, and it’ll work for you too.

Find a Type Of Exercise You Enjoy

Exercise is important but not the most important aspect of fat loss, believe it or not. However, it can help, and a ton of additional benefits come with it, too. Finding a type of exercise you enjoy will make it so much easier. Switch it up and just have fun. 

Get Your NEAT Up 

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT, is the energy your body uses for movement other than exercise. Len Kravitz, PhD, defines NEAT as “the energy expenditure of daily activities such as sitting, standing, walking, and talking – all activities that are not considered planned physical activity of a person’s daily life.” It is basically the “micro” exercise you do each day while going about your daily activities. By walking more and aiming to be more active day to day, it will, collectively, make a big difference.

In one research study it was determined that lean subjects (higher NEAT level) expend approximately 350 more calories a day (i.e. walking and standing) when compared to obese subjects (lower NEAT level). That amount of calories over the course of one year (with all other factors being equal) would equate to a weight-loss of 36.5 pounds!

Control Sleep and Stress 

Sleep and stress play a huge role in fat loss. Make sure you’re getting a minimum of 8 hours a night, and keep your stress levels under control. Look after yourself and get into a routine with it. A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that individuals who got less than 5.5 hours of sleep each night lost 60 percent more lean muscle that those who got adequate sleep.

Eat a Balanced Diet 

The most important aspect of fat loss is how you eat. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to be consistent. Fad diets should be avoided, and instead, a balanced, healthy eating approach should be taken.

Workout with Jefit

Jefit is a workout log app that helps you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

blank

Causes of Back Pain as Explained by Orthopedic Surgeon

blank
Nearly 65 million Americans report a recent episode of back pain. Some 16 million adults experience persistent or chronic back pain, and as a result are limited in certain everyday activities. Back pain is the sixth most costly condition in the United States. While many of us think of slipped and herniated discs as the many causes of back pain, there are other lesser known causes of back pain. Dr. Gbolahan Okubadejo is an NYC area spinal and orthopedic surgeon who explains how less obvious culprits can affect the back. He is the head of The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care and is Board-certified and fellowship-trained. Dr. Okubadejo specializes in the treatment of degenerative spinal disease, spinal deformity, and cervical, lumbar, and thoracic conditions. Here are eight causes of back pain that are not as well known according to Dr. Gbolahan, who is also the developer of 360CoreBoard.

Causes of Back Pain: Kidney Stones

Kidney conditions may cause back pain because the kidneys are located toward the back of your body at the level of your mid-back. Kidney stones are small pieces of calcium that form in the kidney. Many people have kidney stones and are never aware of them, as they are small enough to be passed with urination. However, larger kidney stones that grow in size over time can cause excruciating pain as the body tries to work the stone out of the narrow ureter
Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is sometimes referred to as “brittle bone disease,” in that increased bone weakness over time leaves bones more susceptible to breaking. You may think of osteoporosis as something that happens to older women. It is true that osteoporosis is most common in older women, but men may have osteoporosis as well. As the bones lose density, or mass, they become weak and more likely to break. The bones of your lower back might break even without any obvious injury, causing lower back pain.
Stress
When you’re stressed, your breathing patterns change and cause strain and tension in the mid-back. Your shoulders hunch up and cause pain throughout the upper and middle back. Low-back pain includes the tailbone and lower half of the back muscles. These muscles affect flexibility and posture.
Sedentary Lifestyles
Many of us spend a lot of our waking hours on our behinds thanks to jobs that have us in front of computers all day. But unfortunately, such a sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of chronic low back pain. The answer is to stretch and get moving!

Additional Causes of Back Pain: Poor Posture

Poor posture can either cause lower back pain or make it worse. This doesn’t only mean slouching or slumping at your desk; poor posture could also include leaning on one leg while you stand, or walking with your bottom so far out you have an arch in your lower back. While these postures aren’t inherently “poor” for a moment in time, maintaining these positions for prolonged periods can increase the strain on the muscles and ligaments around the lumbar spine.
Excess Body Weight
Every extra pound adds strain to back muscles and ligaments. Over time, the spine can become tilted and develop an unnatural curvature. Research has shown that obesity poses more than a mechanical stressor on joints: excess body fat also produces chemicals that contribute to joint damage.
Lesser Known Causes of Back Pain: Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual Syndrome is that dull, persistent, crampy, achy pain in, under, and around your sacrum (the area of your back between your hips). PMS-related back pain is a visceral pain — one that comes from a body organ (your uterus) instead of from one of the structures of the back. As your uterus cramps, the pain is referred to your back, and you can have back cramps.
Pregnancy
Lower back pain is one of the many common discomforts of pregnancy. As the weight and size of your baby (and your belly) increase, there is a tendency to tilt the pelvis forward, exaggerating the curve of the lumbar spine. This posture, called lordosis, puts strain on the lower back muscles and may even cause impingement of the sciatic nerve (sciatica). Pregnancy-related back pain can be relieved by strengthening core muscles, maintaining proper posture, and wearing an abdominal support garment meant for use in pregnancy.

Back pain can show up in many different areas of the body. Hopefully these eight lesser known causes can lend a better understanding to those who are dealing with acute or chronic back pain. Stay strong with Jefit!
blank

Seven Benefits of Waking Up Early Based on Science

blank

You often hear that athletes are made in the weight room. You could take that a step further saying they’re made in the kitchen. The first two items though work better when you add sleep to the equation. There are also many health benefits to waking up early to start your day.

Some of us are early birds, and some of us are night owls. We should just live and let live, right? While that is true there are so many proven benefits of waking up early. We should all take them into account if we want to stay healthy and full of energy. This particularly goes for fitness buffs who need to maintain a certain tempo and strength level to finish their routine. Getting up early correlates with many other health benefits, including dietary choices, mental health, sleep quality, and more.

If you are still not feeling convinced, let’s take a look at what science has to say about the issue, and who knows maybe you’ll transform into an early bird by choice by the end of this article.

Benefits of Waking Up Early: You Make Healthier Food Choices

I completely understand the appeal of pressing the snooze button dozens of times to squeeze in some extra sleep, but before you know it, that can take away hours from your morning. This means you will probably skip breakfast and have brunch or lunch instead. However, your body needs to be given a chance to absorb as many healthy nutrients as it can first thing in the morning. In fact, several studies have proven that breakfast kick-starts your metabolism and helps you burn more calories throughout the day.

You Improve Your Mental Health

Talking about health only in terms of physical shape is a huge misconception that needs to change. Being mentally and emotionally stable is the prerequisite for having good overall health. Well, waking up early can help you with that. A study conducted in a London found that morning people are healthier and happier.

Another study suggested that getting up early improves your problem-solving skills and helps you deal with negative thoughts better. All of this leads to less stress, and therefore, minimizes the chances of developing some of the stress-related health problems.

Mornings Are Perfect Time To Exercise

All of us have our own preferred time to get our daily dose of workout, but what if I told you that you will get the most perks out of morning training session? For a start, exercising in the morning lowers the risk of low blood sugar, when compared to afternoon workout.

It also boosts your strength and performance for the rest of your day. Other things that might attract you to break some sweat early one are enhancing your metabolism, helping the cultivating consistency of your workout, improving your physical and mental strength, and provides you with better sleep quality.

Health Benefits Of Waking Up Early: People Who Rise Early Sleep Better

Night owls usually finish their day by binge-watching Netflix, worrying or doing some activity that makes their falling asleep more difficult and their sleep patterns interrupted. Unlike them, most early risers stick to a consistent sleep schedule.

The good news is that you can train your brain to become an early bird. First, you can try to establish a consistent sleeping routine, which will include relaxing pre-bed activities, like taking a warm bath or reading a book. Another useful thing to have is a sleep mask. The evidence we have so far supports the thesis that wearing sleep mask increases the length of the REM cycle and prevents disruption in sleep patterns.

You’ll Be More Likely To Develop Good Habits

A team of researchers observed the link between the time of waking up and substance use. It turned out that early risers are less prone to use drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol. While the research was done on adolescent girls, it is relevant for everyone, because one good habit encourages another one – think of it as a line of dominos where one is leaning onto another. The absence of substance abuse will naturally affect your health in a good way.

You’re More Motivated

Motivation is vital for everything you do, ranging from exercising to your career. An experiment conducted at Harvard University showed that early risers are more proactive than late risers. This affects your success at everything you do, creates positive thinking patterns, and helps you be more confident. Consequently, getting up at the similar time early every morning minimizes stress and negative thoughts which can be harmful to your health.

It Gives You Time To Actually Wake Up

Do you ever get the feeling that you are still sleeping when you arrive at your office? You need hours to be really prepared to do the work you are paid to do and to even talk with your coworkers. This is sleep inertia – a period between sleep and full wakefulness. According to research, it can last up to four hours. During this time many cognitive tasks, such as memory, reaction speed, attention, and alertness, are impaired. So, when you get up earlier, you have enough time to overcome the sleep inertia, and to be at your best when it is needed. Personally, I think this is one of the best health benefits of waking up early.

These are just a few of the health benefits of being an early bird, and I have not even scratched the surface of the other perks which impact your overall life quality, such as having more time, enjoying the first sip of coffee, avoiding heavy commuting on your way to work, and much more. Now you see that it’s worth it to at least try to change your sleeping habits, and enjoy a healthy and happy life to the fullest.

Workout With Jefit

Jefit is a workout log app that helps you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

blank

HIIT Burns More Calories In Half The Time

blank

“High-intensity interval training (HIIT) describes physical exercise that is characterized by brief, intermittent bursts of vigorous activity, interspersed by periods of rest or low-intensity exercise.”

Martin Gibala, PhD

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT burns more calories than other types traditional cardio exercise. For those who can’t even think about doing cardio, remember, high intensity interval training has many benefits. The big one being HIIT burns more calories in half the amount of time as traditional steady state exercise.

I’m sure you have your strength training routine down, especially if you’re using the Jefit workout app. The award-winning app has helped literally millions of members get stronger and in turn transform lives. The question, though, is what are you doing on the cardiovascular side of things? Staying strong is a must but so is maintaining aerobic fitness especially as you age. As this happens, you typically build work capacity, and subsequently can handle a higher volume in future strength workouts.

There are probably more research studies currently in progress, involving various forms of HIIT, than any other exercise-related research being conducted. A great deal of the HIIT research that has been published over the past decade by researchers like Martin Gibala, PhD, from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, continue to show amazing results when compared to traditional cardio exercise. Gibala and colleagues offer their definition of HIIT above.

HIIT RESEARCH

In a study by Matsuo and colleagues (2014), a group of sedentary men performed 13-minutes of high intensity interval training five times a week for 8-weeks. The  (HIIT) group burned more calories per minutes on average than men who performed 40-minutes of traditional steady state cardio. During the study the HIIT group saw a 12.5 percent gain in maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) using 27 less minutes of exercise. Tomoaki Matsuo, Ph.D, co-author of the study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, suggest doing three-minute HIIT stages with two-minute active recovery stages repeated for three rounds.

A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology (1990) by Makrides et al., showed that 12-weeks of high-intensity training produced greater increases in total work accomplished in 30-seconds in old (60-70 year old, 12.5 percent) than young (20-30 year old, 8 percent) test subjects.

One study in the journal Metabolism compared 20-weeks of aerobic training with only 15-weeks of high intensity interval training (HIIT) in which participants did 15 sprints for 30-seconds and lost nine times more body fat than the aerobic and control groups. They also lost 12 percent more visceral belly fat than the aerobic group.

ADDITIONAL BENEFITS OF HIIT

A study in the International Journal of Obesity compared the effect of 15-weeks of HIIT with aerobic exercise. The HIIT group resulted in significant decreases in overall fat mass (3.3 pounds) while the aerobic exercise group had a fat gain of 1 pound on average. The HIIT group also had a significant 9.5 percent decrease in belly fat, while the aerobic group increased their belly fat by 10.5 percent by the end of the study. A 2012 study at Colorado State University found that test subjects who worked out on a stationary bike for less than 25-minutes, with just a few sprints mixed in, expended an additional 200 calories a day, due to excess-post oxygen consumption (EPOC) or commonly known as the after-burn effect.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research by Falcone and colleagues, compared the energy expenditure of single exercise sessions using resistance, aerobic, and combined exercise involving the same duration. The test subjects were young, active men. All sessions were 30-minutes. The resistance training session used 75 percent of their 1-RM, the aerobic session, on a treadmill, used 70 percent maximum heart rate while a high-intensity interval session (HIIT) session was done on a hydraulic resistance system (HRS). The HRS workout used intervals of 20-seconds of maximum effort followed by 40-seconds of rest. The HIIT session using the HRS had the highest caloric expenditure of the three workouts. The data suggest that individuals can burn more calories performing HIIT with HRS than spending the same amount of time performing steady-state exercise.

MORE RESEARCH

A 2007 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology looked at moderately active women who in their early twenties. The subjects were tested for power output on a stationary bike to determine what their VO2max was and then made to ride for 60-minutes at 60 percent of VO2max intensity. These tests were then repeated again at the end of the study to gauge the effectiveness of HIIT for this particular subject group. This particular training protocol showed some of the following results: a lower heart rate in the last 30-minutes of the 60-minute session, whole body fat oxidation increased significantly by 36 percent in only two-weeks using just 7 workout sessions.

A final study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism (2012), observed healthy but inactive people who exercised intensely. The research concluded even if the exercise is brief, it can produce an immediate change in DNA. “While the underlying genetic code in the muscle remains unchanged, exercise causes important structural and chemical changes to the DNA molecules within the muscles.”

HIIT EXAMPLE

There are many different HIIT formats available that an individual can choose from. A few examples of HIIT include, Tabata protocol, 30-20-10 protocol, 1 x 4 or the Go-To Workout. This last one is a favorite of many, including Martin Gibala, PhD, himself. It is performed often because it develops strength and cardiovascular fitness. The workout duration is only 10-minutes. Following a brief warm-up, alternate a bodyweight exercise, one for the upper and lower body, with some type of cardio exercise, like jumping rope. Each interval is 30-seconds long. Each set of exercise should be difficult to finish. You can decrease the intensity when it comes to the bouts of cardio. Repeat this sequence for 10-minutes. Here is an example of the Go-To Workout.

Warm-up for 3-5 minutes

  • Split Jumps (30-seconds)
  • Push-ups (30-seconds)
  • Jump Rope (30-seconds)
  • Step-ups
  • Inverted Row
  • Stationary bike
  • Jump Squats
  • Bicycle Abs
  • Jog

Repeat x 2 rounds for 10-minutes. Instead of using 30-second intervals you could also use a specific number of repetitions for each set. Still not sure? HIIT burns more calories than traditional steady state cardio exercise.

As the HIIT research continues to prove, it is advantageous to supplement your current exercise routine with at least one HIIT session each week to maximize your training results. HIIT continues to show significant results when looking at total caloric expenditure, gains in VO2max, and elevated post oxygen consumption (EPOC). All this gained for just a few minutes of intense exercise!

USE THE JEFIT APP

Millions of members have had great success transforming their bodies using the Jefit app. The app is a customizable workout planner, training log, can track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

REFERENCES

Matsuo T, Saotome K, Seino S, Shimojo N, Matsushita A, Iemitsu M, Ohshima H, Tanaka K, Mukai C. (2014). Effects of a low-volume aerobic-type interval exercise on VO2max and cardiac mass. Sports Exerc. 46(1):42-50. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182a38da8

Falcone PH, Tai CY, Carson LR, Joy JM, Mosman MM, McCann TR, Crona KP, Kim MP, Moon JR (2015). Caloric expenditure of aerobic, resistance, or combined high-intensity interval training using a hydraulic resistance system in healthy men. Strength Cond Res. 29(3):779-85. doi: 10.1519/JSC.000000000000066

Makrides L. Heigenhauser GJ. Jones NL (1990). High-intensity endurance training in 20- to 30- and 60- to 70-yr-old healthy men. Journal of Applied Physiology. 69(5):1792-8.

Gibala, M., The One-Minute Workout. Avery: New York, 2017.

blank