Not everyone is built to move perfectly. Learn what we do with Alexa to help her Squat Form.Read More
Here's a glimpse of what an actual set looks like when I'm training a client.
There's no drill sergeant yelling in her face (other than Lamb of God in the background).
There's no fake ear to ear smile saying "Yeah You Can Do It!".
This is what REAL Personal Training looks like and...
This is Angela, she's a KILLER marathon runner, and she pays attention to detail. Her main goals are to improve her running performance and to build a booty like Kim K (obvi).
Now you COULD go the typical route and give her a regular set of squats, regular tempo, regular set and rep scheme and regular feedback which would yield regular results...
You know what I mean. The 3 sets of 10 squats. The Kipping Pull Ups. The bootcamp style circuits, etc...
But @clearcutfitness we care about giving you the most individualized experience and the MOST effective workouts so we do things a bit different.
Why Ang is a Great Athlete
Angela has mastered her body's ability to use her muscles elasticity (aka. efficient plyometrics) and she's worked up a crazy level of steady state cardio endurance to improve her running performance through the years.
Plyo work, and typical squats to "feel the burn" are not going to be as effective as teaching her body how to produce large amounts of force and stiffness in the joints to transfer energy into the ground efficiently.
How We Program For Ang
We programmed Angela's squats to have a slow eccentric, 1s pause at the bottom and nice and controlled on the way up (concentric). 5 sets of 2 reps at roughly 80% of her Max.
Oh and you can forget about full squats ass to grass, since when do marathon runners squat when running?
We do half squats with Ang. This allows her to lift heavy but not go into a deep ROM that doesn't transfer well to her sport and may increases risk of injury because she's so damn tight. (Those runners muscles, I tell ya)
And what about building that Kim K booty? Squats CAN help, but Hip Thrusts and single leg exercises like lunges show higher glute activation than a full ROM back squat.
THIS is what's really going to improve her performance and help grow that 🍑.
Her body needs more mechanical tension via relatively heavy weights to get her to her goals.
Doing pull ups is another important exercise for Angela. The thought of doing a pull up scared her at first. In fact, she had never done one before! This is something we should work on for a few reasons:
1. Training the lats and the core together (with an exercise such as the pull up) strengthens your running stride and endurance. Legs aren't the only muscles working when you run. Strong lats and core let's you transfer energy better.
2. Building Strength and a balanced physique means you need proper muscle activation and if your lats ain't workin, you're gonna have a hard time getting better.
3. Plus who are kidding? Pull Ups are bad ass. We're focusing on getting Ang to engage her lats and set her shoulder blades properly for each rep. That's why we only do 2 reps per set with a band to assist her. Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. A bunch of shitty reps won't help. A few consistent proper reps will help engrain that movement pattern right into her head.
She's doing an amazing job at taking my annoying ass feedback and turning it into solid reps!
Click Here if you're interested in Personal Training, Small Group Training or if you have any questions!
You always hear how us trainers get ourselves and our clients in shape, but how often do you hear from the clients themselves?
Here's Ashley giving us some insight on what her keys to success are!Read More
What's up Clear Cutters? Cold and Flu season is among us. We've got 4 Supplements that are proven to help reduce symptoms and help your body fight off the illness quicker than usual. Because nobody wants to be sick, especially when it's - 15 Celsius and you've got kids to take care of and work to do.
1. Oregano Oil
Unfortunately, most things on this listing are like Buckley's, it tastes aweful, but it works. Oregano oil is no exception.
When you purchase a bottle look at the dosage recommendations. They may differ brand to brand.
Copy paste from Oregano oil, tastes gross but man does this ever help fight infection. I personally use a blend called "Echinaseal" that combines a few herbal remedies known to have a stimulating effect on your immune system.
This obviously isn't a supplement, but staying hydrated no matter what sickness you have will help decrease the duration of being sick!
Hydration isn't just water, it's a big part, but it's also electrolytes. Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium and more. A healthy balance of water and electrolytes will help flush out a cold. It also ensures your body's metabolism and organs are working properly to provide you the performance you need. I don't just mean on field performance, I mean everyday life performance. Your heart, liver and brain all work better when hydrated properly.
How do we use these when we're sick?
I have a general tincture that I make with all 3! I put the recommended amount of echinaseal and oregano oil with a few sprinkles of salt into about 250ml water and chug it! (Trust me, you'll want to chug it).
I've also experimented with other meat head ideas such as Creatine and BCAAS in the drink. Not sure if those additions actually help but I take creatine daily anyways so might as well kill two birds with one stone. Also, I could argue that a proper amount of protein is also extremely beneficial for your immune system as your immune cells are largely comprised of proteins. Those added BCAAS just might help by stimulating protein synthesis.
Anecdotally speaking, taking this tincture twice a day has decreased my common cold to about 1.5 days. Not bad if you ask me!
1. Burt, Sara. "Essential oils: their antibacterial properties and potential applications in foods—a review." International journal of food microbiology94.3 (2004): 223-253.
This isn't new information. If you've been following any fitness blogs the past few years you've surely heard people say "Strength Training can help you lose fat".
The underlying reasons might not be as obvious as you'd think. We've had people ask us a very good question: How does strength training help you lose fat? I don't sweat as much as when I do cardio, circuit training or HIIT.
We've got the answer for you.
There are many positive physiological effects strength training can have on fat loss.
Let's go over some of the most important positive effects:
1. Accumulating Stress via something called "Mechanical Tension" (which is just a fancy term for how much load is put on a muscle) has a huge effect on your metabolism. It causes lots of muscle damage and stimulates your body to repair and recover. This stimulation also increases your bodies metabolism, burning more energy throughout the day.
2. Increasing your relative strength can allow you to perform more reps at a higher weight than you could before. Let's look at an example:
If your 1RM (1 Rep Max) in the Back Squat is 185lbs.
That means you can hit 135lbs for about 10-12reps(1)(2) (based on a rep max calculation). In a high volume workout to lose fat you'd do something like 3 sets x 12 reps @ 135lbs that's 4,860lbs of total volume in that exercise.
Say you decide to add some maximal strength training in for a couple months. Your workouts consist of pure strength training, reps of 6 and under in order to improve your 1RM. After 3 months, let's say your 1RM went up a generous 40lbs to 225lbs. This means you can now pump out 3 sets of 12 reps @ 170lbs! That's 6,120lbs of total volume from just the squat alone.
6120 - 4860 = 1260lbs more volume. This adds up workout to workout, exercise to exercise. You're now burning more energy and working harder in the same time period. As opposed to cardio training where you literally have to run/bike/swim/whatever for a longer period of time just to attain higher amounts of caloric expenditure. With Strength training you can increase the amount of work you put in without having to spend more time on it. Wouldn't you like some more spare time?
3. Increasing Muscle Mass also has a huge effect on your metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more your metabolism burns. It costs your body a lot of energy to maintain or build muscle. Even just the process of it costs a lot.
Having said that, in order to build muscle, you generally have to intake more energy than you expend. AKA Eat more than you Burn. In this case, we're talking about fat loss so chances are you're in a caloric deficit, or at least, you should be. Don't get it twisted, when you strength train on a fat loss diet, you're unlikely able to build muscle, BUT the stimulation to "build/repair muscle" is what will keep that furnace like metabolism burning heavy.
Check out our Small Group Strength Class if you want to get some Strength in with an expert coach showing you the ropes and getting you strong!
4. There's a whole other side to the story that I haven't talked about yet... And it's simply because the terms Strength Training and Resistance Training get tossed around like they're snap, crackle and pop, when they're actually different terms.
I know I'm getting all technical and shit but it's important to know the different. Strength Training is the use of relatively heavy weights in order to improve one's overall strength.
Whereas Resistance Training is the use of external resistance to perform any type of exercise. In other words Resistance Training is the all-encompassing term. Strength Training, Endurance Training, etc all fall under this category.
So far all I've gone over is Strength Training. Meanwhile, other forms of resistance training can also have an equal or greater effect on fat loss!
If you want to learn more about Resistance training and click here to read more!
1. Brzycki, Matt (1998). A Practical Approach To Strength Training. McGraw-Hill.
2. Baechle TR, Earle RW, Wathen D (2000). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 2: 395-425.
Simply googling "is coffee good for you?" will present you with enough info and confliction to wanna blow your brains out (or "toss your computer out the window"), or just give up on your search for the answer.
Luckily, I'm here to save you and keep your sanity in check.
There's a lot to cover on this subject but I'm literally going to make it as straight up as possible for ya. You've got questions, I've got simple answers based on research (as always). I'd throw in anecdotal discoveries as well BUT everyone knows the clear acute effects of coffee consumption.
Here's what I'm going over:
- Is coffee good/bad for you?
- Potential Health Benefits
- Proven Performance Benefits
- Potential Negative Side Effects
- Cautionary Measures and Dosages
5 Quick Points to learn all the basics of coffee and if YOU should be drinking it or not.
Is Coffee Good or Bad for You?
Many studies have cited potential positive benefits in terms of decease prevention. Specifically: heart disease, stroke, diabetes. Let's tell you how as opposed to just shouting out random things or resorting to massive meta-analysis studies where the issue of "correlation isn't causation" is far too abundant.
Diabetes: It may help reduce risk of diabetes due to coffee's antioxidants and minerals (such as magnesium and chromium) which have an effect on blood sugar control and insulin secretion. On the other end of the spectrum, more than enough research has shown that caffeine on its own can NEGATIVELY effect glucose uptake. So who's to say if coffee consumption really helps diabetes? Don't you think there are FAR better things you can do to manage (or even reverse) diabetes apart from simply drinking coffee?
Did anyone say "Healthy Diet And Exercise!"?
Heart Disease: The reasons for this are unknown but research shows that people who drink 1-3 cups of coffee a day have a (up to) 20% lower risk of heart disease. Specifically heart atttacks and heart abonormalities. This could have something to do with the caffeine in coffee which in some tissues act as a vasodilator (expands the veins) and others a vasoconstrictor (tightens the veins).
At the same time, people who suffer from heartbeat abnormalities and or anxiety may experience opposite effects with coffee. Find out more in the "Potential Negative Side Effects" paragraph.
Dementia and Parkinson's
Drinking coffee long term can be protective of the brain (probably due to antioxidants and caffeine) thus slightly reducing the risk of Dementia, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Coffee has been shown to slightly decrease inflammation in the body. Having said that, I wouldn't ditch the fish oils for coffee, it's just a potential minor health benefit.
The Good Stuff
Let's get real for a second. Most of you want to hear 2 things in this article:
- Is it going to help me lose fat or get jacked?
- Please tell me something really good to justify my coffee addiction
Proven Performance Benefits
It's your lucky day, coffee consumption has been proven to improve performance in pretty much every quality of fitness you can think of!
Strength Gain (anaerobic): Like I stated above, the caffeine in coffee stimulates your nervous system and adrenaline. When that happens, your nervous system is awake, aware (maybe a bit on the edge) but ready to go and use the mind-muscle connection to its full potential. This means you'll be able to produce more force in an acute setting.
In other words: drink coffee = lift heavier, probably
Endurance Gains (aerobic): Coffee consumption pre long distance endurance training has improved trial time and mental focus.
Muscle Gain: Similar to the strength gains, you're able to produce more force therefore can create more muscular damage which can help stimulate muscle growth. Take a note from the endurance side as well, better endurance through longer sets can lead to more metabolic stress which is one of the main drivers of muscle growth!
Fat Loss: Coffee intake has been shown to increase the rate of metabolism pretty much ONLY after a bout of physical activity. To make myself clear, that means: no drinking 3 coffees a day with sugar is NOT going to start burning fat off your abdomen. But, if you drink coffee (or just caffeine) without adding too many calories, it can have a positive effect on burning more energy after a workout.
On top of that, Caffeine itself has been shown consistently to promote fat burn during exercise and inhibit carbohydrate usage.
Potential Negative Side Effects and Doses
Coffee has some potential negative side effects as well. Due to caffeine's stimulatory effect on the nervous system, coffee it can promote things like insomnia, nervousness, anxiety, restlessness and other crappy side effects if you drink too much! Caffeine can accumulate in the body for around 5hrs so it only takes a few cups of coffee to potentially get you to that point. The good news is that once people weened off coffee, the side effects subsided.
As previously noted, coffee can have a negative effect with people who already suffer from heart issues. It's highly recommended to avoid coffee consumption or keep it to a minimum.
Adrenal fatigue can occur in people who consume higher than average amounts of coffee (2+ per day).
Over-consumption of coffee can also cause your body to adapt to the stimulus and eventually, coffee might lose its awakening effects. This causes some to drink more in a day to try to achieve the same effect. This can become like an addiction, which makes it difficult to slow down or stop drinking. Withdrawal symptoms can occur when you do stop as well.
So how much is going to stimulate you and how much is going to F you up?
Everyone has different tolerance levels but most humans are within a ballpark range.
One 8oz cup of coffee (regular size) can contain between 100-200mg of caffeine. That's the same proven amount to improve performance in ANY activity. Don't forget about espresso shots. One shot of espresso has a higher caffeine content per ounce than a cup of regular slow drip. My go to drink is a black iced americano. Usually 2 shots of espresso (sometimes 3 if I realy need to get shit goin). A single shot of espresso has roughly 65mg of caffeine, meaning my 2 shots would have about 130mg and my triple shot contains 195mg.
Human Performance has actually been shown to improve between 100-400mg depending on the person but more isn't infinitely better.
On the other hand, 500mg+ daily caffeine is all you need to push you over the edge. That's more than 2 coffees a day. So if that's you, take a step back and re-evaluate your situation.
Are you relying on coffee to get you through the day? Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you suffer from anxiety? Has coffee lost its stimulating effect? You may want to consider chilling out and lowering your intake to 1-2 per day.
Coffee isn't the cause of or solution to all the world's problems (that would be alcohol to those Simpson fans).
The truth of the matter is that caffeine is a drug, and it's hard to not mix up coffee with caffeine because most of the effects (good or bad) or coffee are due to caffeine, other than some additional micronutrients you'll get through coffee.
It's got it's pros and cons, we all love to drink it, we all love getting fired up (mentally or physically) so we say drink coffee, be happy, don't drink too much or you might turn into a jittery coffee-crack-addict with a heart arrhythmia.
When people first come to our gym we do a full consultation and really dig deep into exercise history. One of the most common mistakes that I've noticed is that people tend to do too much isolation work, and too little (if ANY) compound movements.
If your general goal is to lose fat, build muscle, or improve athletic performance, the vast majority of your training should be compound movements!
I guess we should quickly explain WHAT a compound exercise is and what an isolation exercise is. So here we go:
These are movements that engage two or more different joints which means that multiple muscles/muscle groups are working at once.
An example of a compound exercise is the squat. It works muscles that act on the ankles, knees and hips. Some main muscle groups include: quads, hamstrings, glutes
These are movements that engage only one joint. This usually means a single muscle is targeted in the exercise.
An example of an isolation exercise is the leg extension machine. This exercise only acts on the knee joint and specifically targets the quads.
So why is no good to do too much isolation work and less compound movements?
Let's break it down into goal dependent scenarios shall we?
Compound movements simply work more muscles at the same time. Working more muscles, means you're burning more energy and increases your metabolism post-workout compared to just doing isolation movements.
If your goal is to "tone up" but all you do is cardio, some light bicep curls and planks, it's time to switch it up. Come see us for a custom program that will most likely contain LOTS of good ol compound movements.
Compound movements allow you to lift more weight. Simple as that.
Real talk, Isolation work is actually a key part to bodybuilding. It allows you to really focus on a muscle/exercise and get a mind-muscle connection which has been a proven method to build muscle even in evidence based research. Isolation work ALSO allows you to get a skin splitting Arnold PUUUUUMP with high reps, which has also been proven to assist in building muscle. HOWEVER, that's only one side of the story. On the other hand, Mechanical Tension (aka. how much fuckin weight your muscles can handle and contract against) has just as big of a role in muscle building.
Let me ask you, can you hamstring curl more than you can deadlift? I'm going to assume you answered "0% chance".
Compound movements allow your muscles and joints to handle heavier weights because there are multiple joints being worked and supported.
So if you want to build muscle but you've only been doing chest flys, curls, triceps extensions and god knows what else, it's time to fire things up a bit and add your main strength lifts: Deadlifts, Squats, Bench Press, Pull Ups or Downs.
This is a fun one. Can you name one sport where they only use one joint???
"That's a HAAARRRDDDDD no". Most sports require you to move in different directions, different positions, produce force against an object that could be moving or stationary or against gravity or another person who's moving dynamically.
Isolation work for athletes is almost pointless unless you fall under the category we're about to cover below. Basically, you're not going to get significantly faster, stronger or better at your sport by doing isolation work. Athletic development has a lot to do with getting strong and powerful in movements that closely mimic the movements of the sport. If you're a basketball player and you want to increase your vertical what do you think will help you more:
Squats? Or Leg Extensions?
The squat mimics the movement of a jump (obviously extremely important in basketball). The leg extension mimics a kid at the dinner table who isn't tall enough for their feet to touch the ground.
Taking this one step further, we're going back to the Strength aspect we touched on in the muscle building section. Another huge aspect to athletic development is learning how to produce higher amounts of force against an object or gravity. Strength training with big compound exercises will help improve force production. Doing a bicep curl will only help you curl your arm in a fixed position (unlike most sports), and lift that burger from the plate to your mouth. Wait, that's actually pretty key... Okay maybe we'll keep the curls, now I want a burger. #detroiteatery #squareboy #offthehook
What did Isolation Exercises Ever Do To YOU???
Okay, I'll stop shitting on them because there's actually a time and place for them in most programs. But, never as a primary exercise.
Here are a few examples of when isolation exercises can help:
- Like we discussed earlier, they can help build muscle. Just make sure they're done after the compound movements in your workout. Think of it as a specialization tool. If you cover the muscles you want to work with compound movements, you can add some isolation work to get an extra pump. Pick a muscle that you want to be bigger and do extra iso work at the end of the workout.
- You can use them to target a muscle that may be specifically weak in a movement. If your bench press is weak in the top half of the movement, your triceps might be weak or too small proportionately. If that's the case, do some triceps work at the end of your workout.
If you're an athlete, the hamstrings are generally very important and injury prevention is crucial. Doing some isolated hamstring work (Nordic Ham Curls) has proven to be beneficial in decreasing hamstring injuries.
- If you currently have an injury there may be certain compound exercises that you can't do without pain yet. This is where you'll probably be able to target specific muscles that aren't injured and work them separately.
Take away points:
Compound movements should always take up the majority of the workout. Use isolation work at the end if you want to specifically target a weak muscle. If you want to lose fat, you should probably just stick with pure compound movements, unless you have a specific injury. In which case, training anything is better than nothing.