Spinal compression is a huge issue for humans - we are constantly under spinal load when we are upright because gravity is pulling us downward. Therefore, disc and spine degeneration is an extremely common issue as we age. So the less we can compress our spine throughout our lives, the better.
So the question is, how can we load the skeleton the LEAST, minimizing spinal compression, while loading the targeted muscle the MOST? It's not about how much weight you're holding; it's about changing the physics of exercises.
Effectively targeting a muscle is about the lever or the moment arm to the muscle. The longer the moment arm, the more magnification or work through the muscle.
Changing the physics will reduce or increase the magnification to the muscle or how much that muscle is loaded.
In every exercise, you have an axis, a moment arm, and a line of force. Check out this blog to read more about using physics to calculate force if you aren't yet familiar with...
Your warm-ups are particularly important to your workout's success because you are priming your body to tolerate resistance. It's all about creating an environment where your nervous system feels safe to be mobile and effectively contract muscles.
If you take the time to do this correctly, you can see results much faster and reduce your injury risk.
So what is the best way to warm-up? Stretching, jogging, jumping jacks?
I believe the best way to warm-up is to implement a series of mobility drills throughout most, if not all, of your joints.
These repetitive movement drills fluidly move the joint (usually in circular motions) throughout the entire range of motion that joint was designed to move. These mobility drills are important for this reason:
They provide feedback to your nervous system to activate muscles and generate strength via a phenomenon called the arthokinematic reflex (1).
Your bones are...
There is so much confusing information about what type of exercise is the “best.” Is it cardio? Is it functional movement? Is it yoga? Of course, there is no “best” type of exercise. I believe in doing a little bit of everything. Moving your body in different ways is crucial.
If I were to focus my attention on one type of exercise, it would be more targeted strength training, using a method I call “Highly Effective Strength Training” or “HEST.”
I’ll get into why HEST is effective and some characteristics of this method to incorporate into your routine, but let’s first talk about why to consider shifting your focus towards strength training if you haven’t already.
A primary goal of your exercise program should be to gain muscle. I think women especially avoid heavy lifting because they are afraid to get “bulky.” To me, this is the least of your concerns. I stress this in all...
How do we create an exercise routine that is linearly improving our fitness levels AND our health, without trading one for the other?
That statement might make you scratch your head because we are so conditioned to believe that a fit person is a healthy person. We believe that as physical fitness rises, so does overall health. Unfortunately, the two are often not synonymous.
Health could be defined as the absence of disease.
Fitness could be defined as the ability to handle physical challenges.
A seemingly "fit" person can have loads of orthopedic issues, therefore not fall under the "healthy" category. In fact, many "fit" people have trouble handling everyday challenges like climbing stairs and sitting on a hard chair. They may look "fit," but by definition, they can't handle all the physical challenges in their lives, so they aren't classified as "fit" by this...
I emphasize the importance of biomechanics all the time, but I've never taken the time to define what it means, why it's important, and how to apply it to your exercise.
Check out my video I created here that teaches biomechanics for fitness instructors.
According to dictionary.com, biomechanics means "the study of the mechanical laws relating to the movement or structure of living organisms."
Let's break that down a little, because there are a few key terms within that definition.
Mechanical laws mean the laws of physics (remember Newton's laws from third grade?) that play into movement under different conditions. Each time you lift a weight, certain laws dictate how heavy it feels and how much "stress" will be applied to your system. This is important because it helps to provide a "framework" using mathematics to determine optimal exercise.
A second important term from that definition is the "structure...