10 Ways to Keep on Track with Your Fitness Goals

Fitness Goals
It is easy to say that you want to start eating healthily and hit your fitness goals. However, as motivation tends to be high at the beginning of your fitness journey but slowly depletes, the challenge comes in actually staying on track to reach them.

Here are 10 ways to remain on track to hit your fitness goals

1. Be Realistic

One of the biggest ways to demotivate yourself and lose sight of your fitness goals is by setting unrealistic standards. For example, it could be expecting to see a noticeable difference in one week or by setting yourself to go to the gym two times a day, 7 days a week if you haven’t set foot in a gym for two years. You need to be realistic with your fitness goals and ensure that you can actually achieve them to maintain motivation.

2. Work Within Your Limits

This means that you should know what your limits are in reaching your fitness goals and work with them, instead of against them. Start by incorporating 1-2 gym day to your weekly routine at first and then gradually add to it, such as an extra gym day every fortnight. It could also mean walking on the treadmill at first, and then slowly including jogging intervals.

By working within your limits and then gradually expanding them, you are setting realistic and achievable fitness goals, constantly motivating yourself to keep going.

3. Keep a Schedule

A schedule is a great way to keep track of your goals. By establishing a plan, you are more likely to stick to your training because it becomes an integral part of your routine.

This will help change your approach to exercise. Instead of seeing it as a chore or a burden, it becomes an essential part of your lifestyle.

As time goes on and you continue to stick to your plan, even those days where you don’t really feel motivated, your routine schedule will help you persevere.

If you do have trouble with this at the beginning though, a way to help make sure that you keep a schedule to achieve your fitness goals is to treat each session as an appointment. By treating it as an important meeting with an important client that you wouldn’t miss, you will be less likely to skip your workout too.

4. Mix It Up

One reason why people fall off track with their fitness goals is because they get bored. As you stick to your fitness schedule, your body eventually gets used to the training.

This is why it is important to mix things up and switch up your exercises. Not only will this prevent you from reaching a plateau in your training but you won’t grow used to the same old workouts which will keep fitness exciting and fun. It will also mean that you are constantly being challenged which will work out your mental game as well.

5. Keep a Workout Log

Keep a workout log which will you keep track of your training regime. By regularly logging your workouts, you make sure that you can properly plan your next sessions according to your previous ones. It also means that you will have consistently good workouts, be able to measure your performance and make adjustments to your training regime as needed. By knowing that you are constantly improving, you remain motivated to hit your fitness goals.

6. Take your Body Measurements

To track accurate results from your training, take measurements. You don’t have to own fancy technology to do this as a good ol’ measuring tape will do the trick perfectly.By logging your body measurements, you take the guesswork out of your progress and work with actual data.

7. Keep a Food Diary

Another way to help keep on track with your fitness goals is to consider your diet. By diet, I don’t mean taking up the latest fad but by monitoring your food and water intake and making the best choices possible.

It can be easy to fall off the track with your fitness goals by not maintaining the nutritional side of things but by logging your food intake, you hold yourself accountable for everything that you consume, helping to eliminate mindless eating.

8. Take Photos

A great motivator to hit your fitness goals is to take photos and keep a photo diary. This will give you visual proof that your training is making a difference.

Take photos from the front view, both sides and back to see your progress from all angles.

9. Remember Why You Started

When you are finding it hard to muster up more motivation, remember why you started. You can keep fitspiration photos on your phone or write down your goals and put it in a place where you can see it every day.

By revisiting that really determined feeling you had at the beginning of your journey, you will be more motivated to hit your fitness goals.

10. Forgive Yourself

It is also vital to forgive yourself if you fall off track one time or another. It happens to the best of us but it shouldn’t be used as an excuse to give up. Instead, forgive yourself and use this as fuel to be more determined to hit your fitness goals more than ever.

Jefit is a gym workout app that helps all gym goers and athletes keep on track with their 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

How do you stay motivated to hit your fitness goals? Do you have other tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!

Fitness Goals

Using Workout Logs are Essential to Fitness Success

workout log

Going to the gym is one thing. Completing a workout session that is actually effective and productive is another matter altogether.

A common scenario that athletes and gym goers face is that they head to the gym only to realize that they can’t remember what numbers they hit the previous session. It’s a small thing but it can actually make a big detrimental difference to your fitness success. Fortunately, this can easily be prevented easily through the use of a workout log.

How a Workout Log Can Make Each Workout Session an Effective One

A workout log is a journal, notebook, or an app that helps you keep track of your training so that each session is effective. Here is how:

Accuracy

A workout log means that you always know what you did the previous session, the session before that, and so on. It definitely serves better than your memory, where you can easily forget the smallest details. Recording your training means you can properly plan your next session in a way that further improves your progress on a consistent basis, as opposed to just throwing together a random workout.

It takes the guesswork out of your training regime to get you actual results.

Accountability

It can be easy to slack off when you are having a long day, or if you are feeling particularly tired. Dragging yourself to the gym is one thing but doing the level of exercise you want is another. We can admit it, sometimes we have those days where we cheat a little and use lighter weights or do fewer sets than we planned.

This is why using a workout log can help. By having to keep track of everything, it holds you accountable for all your sessions. Do you really want to look back and see that you put in half the effort last time?

Which leads us onto our next point…

Motivation

What a better way to keep yourself motivated than to look back over your workout log and see the progress that you have made?

Even if you can’t see the changes on the scales or if you are in need a pick-me-up, seeing how far you have come can really give you that much-needed boost of motivation. It will enhance your confidence and determination to keep going and maintain focus on your fitness goals.

Evaluation

What if you are not making the gains that you thought you would be? What if your bench progress has soared but your deadlift has stalled?

Unfortunately, when it comes to fitness success, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every exercise program consists of trial-and-error which is why it is important to be able to monitor how your body responds to your regime and make adjustments as needed.

A workout log can assist with this. It provides you with valuable insight into your past training sessions which is fundamental in evaluating your progress. By keeping track of your workouts, you will be able to see what has worked best for you and what needs improvement. It will also help segment each area for analysis. This way you can maintain consistent progress across your entire body and muscle groups.

By planning your future workouts this way, you enhance your productivity and reduce wasted time because then you are not stuck with a program that really isn’t working. It is all about making advancements and with that, comes monitoring your results and keeping them consistent across all muscle groups.

Consistency

Another important factor that a workout log can assist with is determining how your lifestyle and other external factors affect your sessions. This is something that is not typically given much thought but it can play a significant role in your progress. A key to fitness success is having consistently good workouts.

There may be some days where you do not get enough sleep the night before, or you may have longer work hours on specific days because it is the peak period. By recording this information, you can adjust your program to accommodate to this. It may mean doing a lighter session these days and then making up for it on other days where you have more energy.

Not only will this help you physically but it can also help you mentally.

Instead of taking twice as long to complete a session or “cheating” yourself by cutting your session short and feeling defeated, you will be able to do a workout that you know you can do.

It will also assist in helping you realistically space out and alternate your workouts, especially if are experiencing fatigue or DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).

By being able to look back at your workout log and records, you can make a difference in your physical and mental results to make sure that every workout is as good as the last one.

Injury Prevention

Unfortunately, injuries do happen but there are ways to minimize this risk. If you experience nagging signs of an injury, you can identify what workout caused it by using your training records. You can check the exercise as well as the number of sets, reps and weight that you used.

Knowing this information can really help prevent future injuries so you know what not to do.

A workout log is a tool that tends to be undervalued. However, it is a powerful way to enhance accuracy, productivity and motivation for all athletes and gym-goers. It is an integral component in boosting motivation and success for any fitness program.

So are you looking for an easy, simple and efficient workout log tracker? Say goodbye to pen and paper and say hello to Jefit, a gym workout app that simplifies the process of recording workouts for athletes and gym-goers alike. It comes with the ability to record your metrics set by set until your workout is complete, so you can boost motivation and make every workout an efficient one.

Do you use a workout log to track your training? Has it made any difference to your training sessions and results? Let us know in the comments below!

workout log

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

Grip Strength is Important Because It’s Associated With Overall Health

blank

Research has demonstrated that grip strength can actually predict not only overall health but also all-cause mortality. The definition of all-cause mortality is the death rate from all causes of death for a population in a given time period.

Grip strength is extremely important in the world of working out. It’s needed for every type of exercise, from Olympic lifts to a pull-ups. Adequate grip strength is also needed to get things done around the house. The impact it has on health coupled with valued importance in the gym, makes you wonder why more don’t work on improving it?

Hopefully after reading some of the research presented here, your mindset changes. Most people are not aware of the real value of grip strength, and its importance on overall health. Remember, the old saying, if your grip goes…you go!

Research on Grip Strength

Grip strength is a powerful indicator of upper body strength. Hand strength typically peaks around 30-40 years of age according to one study. There are also gender differences between men and women when measuring grip strength. Hand strength begins to decline in men and women around 50-55 years of age. Low grip strength is associated with a greater likelihood of premature mortality, according to researchers like Bohannon.

Gray and colleagues, in a 2018 study, found hand strength was “strongly associated with a wide range of adverse health outcomes.” Their research concluded lower grip strength was associated with a plethora of health issues. Including, a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and various types of cancer.

A meta-analysis of 42 research papers, and three million participants, found a linear relationship between grip strength and all-cause mortality. In a second study study, handgrip strength was shown to have predictive validity for decline. Specifically, a decline associated with cognition, mobility, and functional ability in older individuals.

Using data from the KNHANES 2015–2016 study, Chong and colleagues looked the association between absolute and relative grip strengths and cardiometabolic outcomes in a Korean adult population stratified by sex and age. Their study suggests that grip strength may be a reliable index to screen for cardiometabolic disease. Thus, grip strength is a biomarker of healthy aging for people of all ages. Finally, it may also be an effective screening tool for various diseases.

How Do You Test and Improve Grip Strength?

One of the best ways to test for grip and arm strength is with a hand dynamometer. The following products are just a few of the many ways to strengthen your grip. One other such example is this unique grip product from Sorinex, that I recently tried and posted video on Jefit Instagram.

Exercises to Improve Grip Strength

As mentioned previously, any exercise that require holding a barbell or dumbbell will develop hand and arm strength to some extent. There are certain exercises, however, that are better than others when looking to become stronger in this area. The first exercise that comes to mind is 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. Here are just a few of the many great exercises you can try:

Get Strong with Jefit

Join the more than nine million members who have 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.

blank

5 Tips on How to Get Back to the Gym After Taking a Long Break—And What to Expect

blank

It’s easy to stop going to the gym, especially during a pandemic, and so much harder to get back into it if after a long break. Maybe you’re on your way to recovering from an injury, maybe you’ve just come back from a holiday (lucky you!), or maybe you lost your way for some time there. Whatever it is, here are some pointers on how to get back to the gym after taking a long break and what to expect.

Get Back to the Gym After Taking a Long Break with These Tips

1. Don’t expect to be at the same level you were before

Unfortunately, regardless of whether you are a runner, weightlifter, or Crossfit enthusiast, taking time off from exercise means that you will lose some of your conditioning. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never get back to the same level or surpass it. It just means that you may start at a lower weight or shorter running time than before your break. This is completely normal.

Let’s take someone who lifts weights as an example. After 1-2 weeks, you may not really see or feel much of a difference. But 3-4 weeks without going to the gym may result in some lean muscle mass loss. You might start losing actual muscle around the 4-week mark.

The good news is that you’ll also regain your strength quicker than it took for you to reach that level in the first place thanks to a little something called muscle memory. Which leads us to our next point.

2. Be patient

We understand that it can be difficult knowing that you’re not lifting as heavy, or running as fast or long as you could but you need to be patient. Work with the strength or energy you have now, and trust that as long as you are consistent and continue to workout, you will return to normal within a few weeks.

Don’t try to push yourself from the get-go as this will only increase your risk of injury. And if you get injured, then you’ll find yourself spending more time out of the gym.

3. Don’t do too much

Don’t try to do all the exercises at once. Stick to a few to ease yourself back into it and give your body time to adjust to the change.

Then you can gradually go back to your normal routine over time.

4. Remember you’ll probably be sore

Contrary to popular belief, feeling sore isn’t a good indicator of whether you’ve had a good workout or not. If you’re feeling sore, it’s probably because you’re doing a new exercise or you haven’t trained in a while. So if you’re getting back to the gym after a long break, you’ll most likely feel it the next day.

The good news? The soreness won’t last forever. Once you get back into a routine, you will find yourself being able to workout without feeling the soreness afterwards.

To help recover faster, make sure that you properly warm-up before exercising and cool-down afterwards. Stretch during every session and employ other tools to help such as foam rolling.

5. Get a trainer/instructor

If you want the extra help, then enlisting in a workout app or personal trainer can really do the trick. If you just need a little push to get back into training, then a workout app like Jefit is a cost-effective method. You can choose the body parts you want to train, as well as some great exercises to do so. You can even connect with other Jefit members so you can share tips on how to get back to the gym.

A personal trainer at your local gym is also really helpful. He or she can create a workout plan for you based on your goals, and show you how the machines work around the facility. Unfortunately, personal training can be on the pricey side at times, but sometimes there may be great offers like group fitness training. This is where you can share the cost and session with a couple of friends!

If you are recovering from an injury though, we recommend that you do enlist the help of a trainer or coach. This is so that modifications can be made for your rehab process. This is vital so that you don’t undo all the progress you’ve made in recovery and make it worse.

Workout with Jefit

Looking to get back to the gym after taking a long break? Want to connect with like-minded people to keep you motivated? Download Jefit to track your workouts and join our members-only Facebook group. You can record your training, set a schedule, and talk to fellow Jefit members. Basically, everything you need to get back into the swing of things!

What do you do to get back to the gym after taking a long break? What tips work best for you? Let us know in the comments, we would love to know!

blank

Want Strong, Shapely Glutes? Try Doing Barbell Hip Thrust

blank

The barbell hip thrust exercise is a great option for increasing size and strength in the hip musculature, specifically the glutes. Like a squat or a deadlift, the hip thrust is a compound movement that targets a large number of muscles in the lower body. This particular exercise is ideal for building both strength and size due to the heavy loads typically used. As an example, see the video below.

Take a break from those other more popular leg exercises for a while. Add barbell hip thrust to change things up a bit. This exercise is great for breaking through plateaus for other leg exercises like a squat. Give those other compound leg exercises a break for a few weeks. Transition to a barbell hip thrust along with single-leg exercises for a period before coming back to the squat and deadlift.

Major Muscle Groups Targeted

Exercise Execution

Position the body on the bench so the back touches the bench just below the shoulder blades. Keep the feet flat on the floor with knees bent.

Olympic bar rests across the hip crease with both hands holding onto the bar.

Keep chin tucked and the ribs down.

Lift the hips off the ground performing hip extension. The key is to raise the hips high enough to get maximal hip extension.

The knees are at 90-degree angles and both body and thighs are parallel with the floor at the end (top) of the movement. Keep chin tucked.

Do not over-arch the back during the movement.

The Barbell Hip Thrust Exercise Performed by Jefit Elite Member

Image Credit: @don_fit on Instagram

Does Barbell Hip Thrust Offer More Muscle Activation than a Squat?

Some would say the barbell hip thrust offers a higher glute activation than a squat when looking solely at the involvement of the gluteus maximus. The best way to get more of an understanding is through EMG analysis. Let’s compare the two exercises through research. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine concluded “the mechanics of the BHT favors the greater activation of the extensor muscles of the hip compared to more conventional exercises.” A second study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning, in 2018, also suggested that the hip thrust movement may be optimal for training the gluteus maximus muscle group in comparison to the back squat and split squat. Finally, some additional information from Bret Contreras, PhD, a leading expert on the hip thrust movement, presented here.

Workout with Jefit

Millions of members are having great success using the Jefit app. One such individual is Don who, pound for pound, is one of the strongest individuals we’ve come across in our Jefit community. Check out some of his amazing instagram posts. Jefit is a fitness app that comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s 1400 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

Neto, W.K., et al., Barbell Hip Thrust, Muscular Activation and Performance: A Systematic Review. J Sports Sci Med. 2019 Jun; 18(2): 198–206.
Published online 2019 Jun 1.

Williams, M., et al., Activation of the Gluteus Maximus During Performance of the Back Squat, Split Squat, and Barbell Hip Thrust and the Relationship With Maximal Sprinting. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2018. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002651

Top photo – Image credit: Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

blank

Quality Sleep is Important But Never More Than Now

blank

“Sleep is the best meditation.” 

~ Dalai Lama

When you end up not getting quality sleep during the night, you typically feel “off” throughout the next day. Not only can your mood and energy level be low, your workout usually suffers too. This seems to happen when you’re clocking less than 6 hours of sleep a night on a consistent basis. In addition to that, you may also notice, you crave unhealthy foods following a sub-optimal amount of sleep the previous night.

Quality of Sleep

****************************

What’s the Definition of Good, Quality Sleep

Sleep quality, as opposed to sleep quantity, refers to how well you sleep. It also includes falling asleep within 30-minutes or less, and sleeping through the night without having the need to get up. The one final piece you could add to the mix is when you’re awaken, for whatever reason, you’re able to fall back to sleep within 20-minutes.

The most valuable assets you have are your mind and body and they require a certain amount of sleep each night to function optimally. With that said, more than 60 percent of the population does not sleep well throughout the night. Research shows people getting less than six hours of sleep have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who sleep more than six hours. This is important because inflammation is linked to diabetes, stroke, heart disease, arthritis, and premature aging. This data was published in the Centers for Disease and Control and Morbidity and Mortality Report.

The Association Between Quality Sleep and Exercise

You work hard in the gym and try to eat healthy to give yourself the best chance for success. The last thing you want to do is ruin those odds by getting minimal sleep. Research from University of Chicago and University of Wisconsin show people who slept more carried less body fat. Subjects who monitored caloric intake and averaged 5.5 hours of sleep, had more body fat compared to subjects consistently getting 8.5 hours of sleep.

Finally, the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study looked at more than 1,000 subjects regarding their sleep patterns. They found those who slept less than 8 hours a night had an increase in BMI proportional to decreased sleep.

National Sleep Foundation’s recommends 7-9 hours of uninterrupted, quality sleep for adults (ages 18-64). For older adults (age 65+), they suggest 7-8 hours of sleep a night. These recommendations were updated in 2015 and published in Sleep Health: The Official Journal of the National Sleep Foundation.

Final Thought on Sleep

One final comment on the importance of sleep that’s explained nicely in the book, Biological Rhythms and Exercise. “Weight-training exercises may be unaffected by partial sleep loss early on in a training session, but the performance suffers due to lack of drive and concentration as the (exercise) session continues.”

We are currently living in unprecedented times during this past year, and stress has affected us in some way or another. Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to how we’re living our life. Use both regular exercise and aim for quality sleep each night to help reduce the amount of stress in your life. Stay strong with Jefit app.

blank

Regarding Different Therapies, Could Myofascial Release be the Best?

blank

What type of body therapy would you consider the most beneficial? Your therapy options are massage, myofascial release, acupuncture, sensory deprivation (i.e. float tank), cryotherapy, vibration, or hydrotherapy. With that said, I received one of the best myyofascial release (MFR) therapy sessions the other night after work. Maybe it was because my body really needed it; or the fact it had been more than eight months since my last visit due to the pandemic.

EveryBODY recovers differently from training depending on factors such as age, stress, nutrition, sleep and of course training volume.

Having tried all of the aforementioned therapies, myofascial release seems to get to the root cause better than other options. Most therapies are good for treating symptoms, not helping with the issue at hand. Meaning, you need to determine what’s causing the pain in the first place. As with other types of body work, like massage therapy, it comes down to the therapists experience and technique. The same holds true for myofascial release therapy. My therapist, who I’ve used for a few years now, also happens to be a physical therapist. She has also trained under the “Godfather” of myofascial release therapy, John Barnes who is a physical therapist as well.

What is Myofascial Release Therapy?

Researchers Levin and Martin have stated, “fascia is the fabric of the body…fascia is a tension network.” All the other tissues in our body, like muscle, bone and brain, are actually embroidered into the fascial fabric.

“Myofascial release is a safe and effective treatment to address restrictions in connective tissue. Myofascial release helps to reduce pain, restore motion, decrease tightness and improve overall functional mobility.”

Kendellynn Cavanaugh, MSPT

MFR is a safe hands-on technique that involves a sustained pressure applied to myofascial connective tissue restrictions. The goal is to eliminate pain and restore motion. A therapist will actually apply different levels of pressure as they “stretch” the skin in multiple directions. There are three type of connective tissue. Ligaments connect bone to bone, tendons connect muscle to bone and then there is fascia. It’s a watery web-like system that covers your entire body, literally from head to toe. Fascia is a type of connective tissue that is composed into three layers: the superficial layer, a layer of potential space, and a deep layer. Fascia is believed to be one continuous piece of tissue that works in connected “chains” to create a floating compression in the body.

What Types of Issues Does Myofascial Release Treat?

Myofascial release technique can be used to treat a host of issues, the following is just a small selection.

  • Chronic pain
  • Neck pain
  • Sports injuries
  • Headaches
  • Low back issues (like disc pain)
  • Jaw pain (TMJ)
  • Sciatica
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Scoliosis
  • Pelvic floor pain

The Bottom Line on MFR and Other Therapies

Do you really need regular body work or can you take care of it yourself through a basic recovery process? In theory, it’s easy to say I’m going to take time out of my day or before my workout and address any functional issues. But in reality, it does not happen most of the time. Of course, there are some exceptions. Tools are available to use like foam rollers, vibration guns, yoga, and mobility work, to name a few, and they will definitely help. As you age, though, the body just does not move the same way as it does when it’s young.

Therapies, especially MFR, can help restore the body to its original self. It can keep you moving optimally, the way you were meant to move. In doing so, the body will not “breakdown” as often, keeping injuries at bay. It’s only a matter of time before an injury shows itself, if muscle and connective tissue restrictions are constantly present. MFR is the perfect tool to alleviate these issues, getting the body functioning the way it was meant to…no matter what your age. Stay Strong with Jefit.

Reference

Fascia: The Tensional Network of the Human Body. Scheip, R. et al. Churchill Livingstone, 2012.

blank

Quick Tests To Gauge Mobility, Strength, Anaerobic Capacity and More

blank

When was the last time you tested yourself to determine your overall fitness level? Have you ever even been tested? If you worked with a coach or personal trainer in the past then most likely you’ve been tested. Or let’s just say you should have been. Periodic quick tests like the following three, can be used as a motivational tool, to help break through plateaus, and to help determine what you’re doing in the gym is actually working. Most importantly though, your program design should be based off the results of your testing. How can you manage something if you never measure it?

There are many different types of fitness tests available to help gauge where you’re at. Most people spend their time testing their strength using exercise like bench press for maximum repetitions. The following three tests work because they are safe, effective and offer insight into more than one area of your body.

Quick Tests: One-Minute Peak Power Test and 500 Meter Row

The great thing about a rowing machine is its versatility when it comes to testing. This is especially true with a Concept 2 erg or a SkillRow from Technogym. Again, there are many test you can perform. Remember, we want it to be fast and easy to do. The idea behind this test is to provide an objective assessment of your peak power output in a 60-second, all-sprint. The test will also lend insight into your ability to sustain power anaerobically. Do not pace yourself in this test, simply go all out with each stroke.

Other personal favorite quick tests are row for time. More specifically, performing 100 and 500 meter sprints. I believe the world record for the 100 meter row was 12.8 seconds and 500 meter is 1:24 performed by a female and 1:14 by a male. Most people typically do it in about 2-minutes. My personal best 500 meter row time is 1:36.8 to give you a range to shoot for. Hitting 1:30 would be great not to mention a good goal. Rowing is one of the best workouts you can do. Known as a complete workout that involves about 85 percent of your muscle mass. Other than being performed seated, it’s great. Of course the best known event is a 2k meter row in which a 7-8 minute recorded time is considered respectable. Happy rowing!

blank
blank

The Complete Exercise: Turkish Get-Up

All you need for this one is one kettlebell. This is all about strength and mobility. The exercise requires several movements that need to be executed while under load. Try it initially without weight, then use a light weight before progressing to a heavier load if able. It’s an advanced, full-body strength movement. The Turkish Get-Up is performed laying on the ground while holding a weight straight over your head, you stand up, and then you reverse that entire movement until you’re back on the ground where you started. Sounds easy I know but that’s far from the truth. History has it that ancient Turkish soldiers used the get-up as part of their strength training regime.

Coach Bret Contreras has reported using electromyography (EMG) and determined that a 50-pound Turkish Get-Up was enough to cause over 100 percent peak activation of the core muscles (rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and the spinal erectors). Sounds impressive enough to me. It’s called a complete exercise because it involves: rolling, a lunge pattern, an overhead hold, multiple hip hinges, glute activation, core engagement, and shoulder work, specifically, rotator cuff stabilization. Coach Todd Cambio offers a great explanation of the exercise sequence. This ain’t a bicep curl.

The test would be to first determine if you can do the movement with good form without weight. One repetition on each side. My advice would be to start using this movement as part of your dynamic warm-up. Then eventually see what you can handle for a load. If you’re a beginner with limited exercise or strength training experience….skip this test for now. Use bodyweight only if you do decide to go for it.

Bodyweight Deep Squat

If you are having trouble with a Squat or Deadlift, try experimenting with this bodyweight deep squat. It’s another one of those great quick tests that offers a great deal of information. Such as, where your ankle mobility stands. Many people who have trouble getting low when doing a barbell squat may have limited ankle mobility, specifically, ankle dorsiflexion. This test can help improve that exercise and many others. Your best option is add this deep squat into your dynamic warm-up like the Turkish Get-Up.

When trying this test, lower into the squat slowly dropping hips back while keeping chest up. When you begin your ascent, think about using three points of contact. As you extend the knees and hips, drive through the feet placing equal pressure on the heel, big toe and pinky toe. Don’t force anything. The goal is to see if you can get the hips lower than the knees.

Periodic self-testing will help in many ways as discussed above. In addition, finding out if positive changes are taking place in other areas of the body is also important. Changes like increases in strength and anaerobic capacity and an improvement in mobility. Improvements in these areas will translate into a better overall experience at the gym. Stay Strong!

blank

Tabata: The Best Workout You’re Most Likely Doing Wrong

blank

First, some background on the well-known Tabata workout. The workout almost ended up having a name other than Tabata associated with it. The Japanese researcher did not design the exercise protocol he just showed how good it was at improving work capacity in athletes. The head coach of the Japanese speed skating team brought in Izumi Tabata, PhD, to work with the team back in the 1990’s. The coach wanted Dr. Tabata to analyze the efficacy of their training program. The training program used short 20-second bouts of high intensity exercise with brief 10-second rest periods. It was Dr. Tabata who subsequently showed the world, through his research, how effective this type of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) actually was.

Misunderstanding in a Tabata Workout is Intensity Level

To begin with, most individuals end up performing a Tabata protocol incorrectly because they choose a low intensity. Looking back at the original research published in 1996 by Dr. Tabata you can see that his original training intensity was very high.

ATHLETE GROUP 1

Subjects pedaled on a cycle ergometer for 60-minutes at a moderate intensity (70 percent of VO2 max). This is comparable to a long, slow jog. Subjects were male amateur athletes in their mid-twenties. Subjects exercised 5 hours a week. The anaerobic capacity did not change. The VO2max increased significantly during the training in this group.

ATHLETE GROUP 2

Subjects pedaled for 20-seconds, followed by 10-seconds of rest, repeated 7-8 times for 4-minutes. This was performed at a maximal effort. The key word here is maximal, subjects worked at 170 percent of VO2 max. Subjects exercised 20-minutes a week. Anaerobic capacity increased by 23 percent after 4 wk of training. It increased further toward the end of the training period. After the training period, anaerobic capacity reached 77 ± 9 ml/kg/min. or 28 percent higher compared to pre-training capacity.

Both subject groups performed the exercise protocol for 6-weeks. During that time, subjects worked out either 5 days a week for a total of 5 hours a week or 20 minutes. After the training period, aerobic capacity or VO2max increased by 7 ml/kg/min. while anaerobic capacity improved by 28 percent.

Tabata Workout Protocol

The athletes used in the early work of Dr. Tabata were tested on a cycle ergometers. Therefore, certain exercises like a plank typically don’t elicit a high enough training intensity. Jump squats, on the other hand, work nicely because more muscle mass is involved. Finally, to mimic a true Tabata protocol, select exercises that utilize a large percentage of muscle mass not isolation type movements. A couple of suggested cardio products that would work are explosive bodyweight exercises, rowing ergometer, versa climber or running stairs.

Tabata Protocol

  • Warm-up (suggested time 5:00) – Use a 2:1 work-to-rets ratio x 8 rounds
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • Cool-down (suggested time: 5:00)

14-minute total time, 4:00 High Intensity work

The idea is to complete as many repetitions of the exercise or movement in 20-seconds, rest briefly for 10-seconds and repeat this format 8 times. Lastly, the idea is to repeat the same exercise or movement or choose different exercises for each round.

Use the Jefit App to Build, Log & Track Your Workouts

The Jefit app now has the ability to perform and log interval based workouts like Tabata Protocol. Stay Strong!

blank

Improve Your Balance and Functionality Doing More Single-leg Exercises

get jefit elite 30% off

They may take a bit longer, but the many benefits of doing single-leg exercises, or unilateral exercises, far outweigh that one issue. Moreover, performing these types of leg exercises regularly can improve balance, functional ability, correct muscle imbalances, and increase core strength. Knowing that, the better question might be why would you not do them? Unilateral exercises require only a single-leg or single-arm to perform.

Just about everything we do is based off a single-leg movement. Movements such as walking, running, skipping, forms of jumping and climbing a flight of stairs all utilize one-leg. In fact, Michael Sylvester, owner of TheFitnessDocs, states, “when we walk or run, 60 percent of the gait cycle is bearing our entire bodyweight on one-leg.”

Single-leg Exercises Mimic The Way We Move

Leg exercises, especially single-leg exercises, mimic the way the body moves naturally (i.e. gait pattern) in everyday life and during athletic events. We want to train the body the way we move in life and in sport. Using lower body unilateral exercises in a workout will check off those two boxes. Compound exercises, also known as bilateral exercises, like a squat or deadlift are of course important. If an athlete is trying to improve their vertical jump, for instance, then those types of exercises are applicable.

Think of the way you and your clients move throughout the day. Watch a video of any sporting event and observe how each athlete moves up and down the field, court, track or ice. Every movement requires unilateral or single-leg action; running down the field, cutting on a court, a lay-up, running the bases, or pushing off on the ice. The body therefore needs to train in a similar manner replicating those types of movements in the gym in order to improve performance.

Single-leg Exercises Helps Correct Muscle Imbalances

Many people use their dominant side most of the time. If your dominant leg is your right leg, this is typically the one you’ll use to start running up a flight of stairs or kick a soccer ball. Likewise, the same thing applies to the upper body. Think about how strong the arm of a tennis player or baseball pitcher’s dominant side is. This is why it’s so important to train the opposite or non-dominant side and using unilateral exercises work best in most cases.

Performing barbell bilateral exercises can help someone become stronger but not correct imbalance issues; unilateral dumbbell exercises on the other hand will. Each one of us has as area or a side of the body that is typically weaker and less flexible. Further, if not corrected over time, dysfunctional movement will occur and lead to injuries. Speaking of injuries, this can be a major problem when coming back from a leg or foot or injury that as a result, leads to changes in gait pattern. If not corrected, in-efficient movement patterns can take hold or what I like refer to as, get “ingrained in the brain” and become the norm. Unilateral movements will help bring the body back to its original state after this has been corrected.

According to, Gray Cook, MSPT, you “must develop sound movement patterns long before worrying about performance enhancement. These movement patterns are not possible in the presence of poor flexibility or poor body control – that is, poor mobility and stability.”

Improves Balance

Working off one-leg makes the involved leg work that much harder and the smaller intrinsic muscles around the ankle ultimately become stronger. Consequently, the muscles around the knee and hip joints also get stronger resulting in better balance. Continuing to use single-leg exercises like split jumps, pistol squats, step-ups, and Bulgarian split squats in workouts force you to spend more time balancing on one leg while working different single-leg movement patterns. This in turn improves kinaesthetic awareness leading to better balance through postural awareness and new found strength.

Added Bonus on Core Strength

When you work one side of your body as a result of using unilateral exercises, like a single-leg Romanian Deadlift, you activate more core muscles in order to maintain balance. The by-product is the stabilizing muscles end up working much harder and become stronger. The primary core stabilizers include the deep trunk muscles like the multifidus, internal obliques, external obliques, tranverse abdominis and pelvic floor muscles. The purpose of these muscles is to support and protect your spine and improve your posture.

For best overall results, try adding more unilateral leg exercises to your workouts if you’re not already doing so. As an example, combining bilateral (Squats) and unilateral (DB Bulgarian Split Squat) exercises in the same workout will help take your strength gains (and more) to the next level. Stay Strong!

get jefit elite 30% off

“Strong” Benefits of Reverse Pyramid Training

blank

Reverse pyramid training (RPT) is great training option to use when looking to gain muscle size and strength. This type of program design features high-intensity sets but low volume workouts. Reverse pyramid training is simply a lifting style. RPT involves the heaviest weight used early in each overall sequence of sets for a particular muscle group. The reason this type of training works so well is because it takes advantage of a persons high energy level early in a workout. As a result, the muscles are not fatigued (yet) and, therefore, have the ability to handle heavier loads early in the workout. The idea is to do as many repetitions as possible (AMRAP) without going to failure during each set.

Reverse Training Pyramid Example

Here are a few examples of what an upper and lower body RPT would look like following an efficient warm-up. This would be an example for an intermediate lifter who is looking to build strength and hypertrophy. Rest between sets is approximately 2-3 minutes using a tempo of about 4-seconds/repetition, 2-seconds each for concentric and eccentric phase. Decrease the weight between subsequent sets by approximately 10-15 percent.

1A – BENCH PRESS

(*Perform 2-3 warm-up sets for each exercise*)

225 x 6

185 x 10

160 x 12

1B – INCLINE BENCH PRESS

155 x 8

125 x 10

105 x 12

2A – SQUAT

(*Perform 3 warm-up sets for each exercise*)

315 x 3

275 x 6

235 x 8

2B – DEADLIFT

345 x 4

295 x 6

250 x 8

Research Review on Reverse Pyramid Training

There are few studies in the research literature that look at the benefits of RPT. But in that same breath, know that RPT is not better than traditional training. It offers you another training option but with a nice caveat – it can be used to help break through training plateaus. According to research published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, training with repetitions around the 8-12 range allows for gains in muscle size compared to training with less repetitions, such as 2-4 repetitions, will elicit more of a strength gain. The outcome, as it relates to RPT, is the lifter receives both benefits (size and strength).

Changing Training Stimulus is Important in Reverse Pyramid Training

One way to bust through a training plateau is to change the training stimulus. This could be done by switching in/out exercises, changing repetitions, sets, or adjusting volume or rest between sets to name a few. This could also be a good time to add in RPT. Every few months, think about how changing things up a bit could benefit your overall program. Remember, the body continually adapts to the training stimulus provided. Your goal is to periodically measure how you are doing on the program, adjust, pivot if necessary, and continue to push through.

Newly Released RPT Program on the Jefit App

Please visit the Jefit app to download this free, beginner Reverse Pyramid Training program that accompanies this article. You can find it here. Thanks and Stay Strong with Jefit.

Please feel free to share this post on social media and with family & friends:>)

blank