Strength

What does it mean to increase strength?

Okay, so hopefully all of you are fully convinced of the benefits of strength training. Now let’s get in to the nitty gritty details of the different types of strength training: muscular strength, muscular power, muscular hypertrophy, and muscular endurance. Think of these categories from the stand-point of your end goal. What is your training intent? Are you looking to increase overall strength? Improve your explosive movements for your tennis game? Look more defined in your bikini? Or, improve your time for your next ultramarathon? These are all example of goals that would be best served by one particular style. Now how do you implement these styles of training to achieve these goals? Let’s break in down….

Muscular strength is best trained by using a heavier weight (80-100% of 1 RM for advanced strength trainers) for 2-6 sets of 1-8 reps. Notice the repetitions per set are low, and the recovery is long, up to 3 minutes between sets. Training like this is the fastest way to improve your base level of strength, but may not give you the body of your dreams in a short amount of time. Training for muscular hypertrophy will result in more defined individual muscle groups, taken to its extreme training for muscular hypertrophy along with an incredibly strict diet will result in a body-builder appearance. However, for most of us training for muscular hypertrophy will result in a more toned appearance, something that many desire. 99.9% of us do not have the genetics to achieve the Arnold Schwarzenegger look! This involves training individual muscle groups with a higher weight (70-100% of 1 rep max) for about 3 sets of 8-12 reps with shorter rests.

Training for muscular power involves using a light load ((0-60% of 1RM) but involves explosive movements, such as box jumps. Improving muscular power is desirable for many different types of athletes, especially when speed and jumping are involved. This type of training is effective, but needs to be utilized carefully to avoid injury. Training for muscular endurance will result in increased levels of overall fitness and endurance, but is not as effective at increasing your base level of strength. Muscular endurance is achieved by using lighter weights for higher repetitions, up to 25 per set, with minimal rest. Now how do you decide which is best for you? This is where working with a personal trainer, who can assess your areas of strength and weakness will really help. For those taking classes, most of the classes (i.e. Tabata, Spin and Strength, and Fit Camp) fall on the muscular endurance side of the spectrum. Targeted Strength and Conditioning incorporates more muscular strength and hypertrophy. Now remember, any strength training is good, but to achieve a desired result you need to make sure you are training in the most efficient way. When you train with an intent in mind, your results will improve dramatically.

Time to get Stronger!

Guess what, it’s Strength Month! My favorite. In coming weeks, I will discuss principles of strength training in greater detail, but today I just want to touch on some of the many benefits of strength training. You know exercise is important to your long-term health and well-being, and you probably know your routine should include some weight or strength training… but do you know why? Weight training strengthens muscles so they can support you through all of your activities, throughout your lifespan. If you don’t build and maintain your muscles, there’s a host of negative effects such as loss of muscle mass and bone density, and increased risk of falls. But, let’s keep things positive today. Here are some of the more fun and interesting benefits of strength training: decreased cancer risk, increased IQ (really!), decreased risk of anxiety and depression, better sleep, and a more positive attitude throughout the work day. How much strength training do you need to do to get these benefits? As few as 2-3 full body sessions per week will cause you to reap these rewards. This still leaves you plenty of time for your favorite spin class, or to try our new Yoga class on Sundays. You do not have to strength train every day to see these positive effects.

Here at 50/50, we want to ensure you that it is one or our six focal points of health and wellness. Staying strong is important for everyone, and increases the chances of enjoying a long, healthy and vigorous life. There are many ways to incorporate strength training into your routine. For more traditional strength building, Fit Camp, Targeted Strength and Conditioning, and Personal Training are great options. For muscular endurance, TABATA and Spin and Strength are fun classes to get your heart pumping and work your muscles. For those of you newer to strength training, I highly recommend personal training. Not only will you get the one on one attention needed to ensure correct form, but you will also receive a full-body assessment and a plan of corrective exercise to address imbalances that may otherwise hold back your progress.

However, you chose to incorporate it, I challenge all of you (yes, especially you spin aficionados) to incorporate 2-3 days of strength per week for the next month. Your body and mind will thank you!

Strength training IS for everyone

What does fake news look like in our industry?

  
Today with social media, the internet, and many other outlets of information, it can be challenging to realize what information is reliable and what is not.  Whether its information about diet, strength training, injury prevention, or the best recipe for Angel Food Cake.  Today, I want to demystify a myth sometimes thrown around gyms…Lifting weights is bad for the joints…Lifting weights is going to hurt your shoulder, elbows, back…
Yes, with bad form or advancing too quickly, accidents and injury can happen with wight training.  All sorts of things can happen with any exercise, ask a runner who gets shin splints or runner’s knee. You don’t have to add weights to your workout to get injured. Quite the opposite, weight training has a protective effect on your joints.
The Arthritis Foundation states: “Strong muscles support your joints. If you don’t have enough muscle, your joints take a pounding, especially your spine, hips, and knees, which must support your entire body weight. Weight training exercises help build muscle and keep your muscles and surrounding ligaments strong. That way, your joints don’t have to do all the work.”
Exercise Physiology for Health, mentions: “By stressing your bones, weight lifting stimulates them to grow thicker and stronger. Weightlifting can reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis and can slow or even reverse the progression of existing osteoporosis. Stronger muscles also support your joints.”
As an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, I always like to discuss the industry standards to help support my opinion:  The American College of Sports Medicine, recommends performing resistance exercise, including lifting weights, two to three days per week. ACSM suggests (2-4 sets) per exercise, and (8-12 reps) per set to build strength and (10 to 15 reps) to develop muscular endurance.
Well, don’t just take my word for it.  Read what one of our favorite Targeted Strength and Conditioning members, Lisa Connolly, has to say about the topic:
Before joining 50/50 fitness I always found a way to avoid upper body exercises in my workout routines. After undergoing multiple shoulder surgeries, I became afraid that any wrong movement would set me back. So, to prevent re-injuring myself, I thought it was better to be safe and avoid it. All of this changed when I walked through the doors at 50/50.
 
I found confidence each class I took and began to look for a new challenge that fit with my schedule. It was recommended that I try Targeted Strength and Conditioning, and I am so grateful that I did. Since joining Jay’s program, I have seen huge improvements with my shoulders. Not only has my shoulder stability improved, but also the lingering pain has subsided since I began to strengthen the surrounding muscle groups. I have also regained some range of motion that I never thought I would get back.
 
It’s hard to pinpoint one thing that keeps me coming back to Targeted each week. Everyone in the class is extremely supportive and I continue to feel stronger overall, after each class. Jay takes his time to demonstrate each exercise, reviews how your body should be positioned, and makes sure you are completing each exercise with perfect form. He coaches you every step of the way and recognizes when you are ready for a new challenge. I would highly suggest Targeted Strength and Conditioning for anyone who is considering it. This program has been highly beneficial for me.
 
Lisa has reaped the positive benefits of strength weight training, demonstrating how strong muscles support (even injured) joints. So, the take-home message is don’t be afraid of weight training. It is appropriate for everyone! The key is exercising with proper form and a safe progression. Personal training and Targeted Strength and Conditioning are a great way to ensure you have the support you need to be safe.

Let’s talk about rest! Ahhhh….

Once Halloween hits it seems like life becomes a roller coaster ride until the New Year. Many of us are in the go-go-go mentality of maintaining our work and/or school commitments along with having the added responsibilities of holidays, family, and entertaining. While there is a lot of joy this time of year there is also an equal amount of stress. One of the great lessons we can take from strength training is that, in order to push hard, we need to make time for recovery. Traditional strength training work-outs are divided into sets of exercise consisting of a certain amount of repetitions, each set is followed by a period of rest. The rest period is just as important as the working period. Taking the adequate rest between sets is absolutely essential to making progress with our strength training. Often we fail to give the rest period in our life the importance it deserves. This is detrimental to the progress we make both in and out of the gym.

There are a myriad of different strategies when it comes to work/rest intervals. The ratio will often depend on your goals for strength training: some people lift to improve muscular endurance for long distance events, some people lift to increase there lean muscle mass and rev up there metabolism, some people lift for muscle hypertrophy and developing a particular body part of interest, others lift for pure strength building. A general rule is that the heavier you lift (or the higher percentage of your one rep max to be technical about it) the longer your rest period needs to be. For example, power lifters may rest for upwards of five minutes between sets. Most of us at 50/50 aren’t lifting heavy enough to require this much rest, so typically a 1:1 work:rest ratio is very effective when we are lifting. This will seem like a lot of rest to many of you, but I promise it is effective. The key is truly picking a weight that challenges you in the 6-12 rep range, meaning the last two reps are very difficult (but not impossible) to complete with proper form. For those of us who thrive on pushing ourselves to the max every second of every day this rest thing can be very challenging at first, but I swear that the endorphin rush you get from a well executed dead-lift or bench press will rival any runner’s high.

When we think about our body’s need for rest and recovery our mind often go towards yoga and stretching, which are great for your body and I highly encourage you to participate in these activities. But, I want to challenge you to think of this need for rest and the importance of rest in all your work-outs, particularly your strength training. Use this rest time to mentally prepare your body, coach yourself through proper form in your head, visualize yourself executing the move, and congratulate yourself on making progress towards your goals. Mindful strength training is effective strength training, and rest is an essential part of this equation. Take a deep breath and say ahhhh……

Jay McWilliams C.S.C.S

Targeted Strength and Conditioning gets a New Look!

Targeted Strength and Conditioning: Looking back and the road ahead!
Wow, I cannot believe this small group offering Targeted Strength and Conditioning has been taking place for a year and a half now! What a time full of positive experiences and transformations.  Thank you to everyone that has and still is participating.  I am excited to offer some new changes and developments to this program.
It is quite amazing to think that this program started with a couple of you that needed a strength training session that worked with your schedule.  This program began as one Small Group Training that took place outside with a few 8lbs and 10lbs dumbbells.  In just several weeks, that small group began to grow; the sessions began to resemble nothing that many of you had experienced before at 50/50.  That Small Group Training began to get a “following”, it grew, another group later developed and Targeted Strength and Conditioning was created.  In a year and a half, I have trained approximately 30 individuals without injury, and with much strength, fun, and camaraderie.   In this article I will give a brief overview of the new structure, some information on strength training, and how to use this program to better meet your strength goals, using the pull-up, one of our core moves, as an example.

Targeted Strength and Conditioning is now a six-week strength-training program, where it had previously been a sixteen-week program.  This will allow for those interested in participating in the Targeted strength training program an opportunity to join sooner.  This program has eight core movements throughout the six weeks: Core, Arms, Vertical Push, Vertical Pull, Horizontal Push, Horizontal Pull, Knee dominant, and Hip dominant.  Also, I have freed up 15 minutes at the end of the session to allow each group to work on their own unique six-week goal. For example, one group has chosen to spend the next six weeks focusing on lateral movements to strengthen their legs for the upcoming ski season! The main exercises will change within the six-week program every two weeks to keep everyone engaged, while maintaining the effectiveness of Progressive Overload.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) published an official-position paper in favor of progressive overload for resistance training in healthy adults, and a 2015 study published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology found that the best endurance athletes in the world follow progressive overload’s principles.  Using Progressive Overload you work a specific muscle or function (i.e., squat or pull-up) in a specific manner, progressively adding intensity and/or duration over time. We use these principles in Targeted to safely build strength. For success repetition and consistency are key. Results don’t occur overnight but after months, and for some even years.  The pull-up provides a great example of this principle.
How can I develop the strength to do an unassisted pull-up? How do I know how many reps to complete? In general, a goal of 8-10 reps of a weight is a good rep range for three sets of an exercise.  A rep range of 6 reps of a heavier weight is better for gaining strength.  It is important that at the end of each set, you feel as though the last rep was challenging to complete, but not impossible.  We use a thirty-second rest period for recovery, you should need to use that rest period.  The pull-up/chin-up is one of the hardest exercises to complete.  We use assistance with resistance bands.  The blue band offers the most assistance, and the green band a bit less.  Beginners should strive to complete the 8-10 rep range with proper form, to create muscle memory, better prepare the joints, ligaments, and tendons for heavier resistance.  As you gain the ability to increase your number of repetitions past 10, use a lighter resistance band and work your way back up to 6-10.  Continue this, along with eccentric pull-up/chin-ups, and practicing holding your body weight unassisted in the top and middle part of the pull-up and chin-up movement.  With pull-ups and chin-ups it is imperative to practice attempting an unassisted pull-up sooner rather then later.   It is so gratifying to me to see our members progress to unassisted chin-ups and pull-ups. Many of you have and many are so very close; keep up the great work!

We Don’t Know Squat:

Director of Strength & Conditioning, Jay McWilliams

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There are a few simple movement patterns that are as old as humankind. Just now, research is showing us how these primal movements are key to our health and longevity. One of these movements we do every day and in countless classes but we probably take for granted; the squat. The squat (along with the deadlift) is an excellent way to improve leg strength. A recent study from Brazil found that lack of leg strength is closely linked to higher mortality. In fact, people with weak legs were at a 5-6 times higher risk of death than those with strong legs! To build greater leg strength, we need to focus on performing squats with good form and added resistance (weight). In Targeted Strength and Conditioning we master Goblet Squats, Split Squats, Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squats and Squat Thrusts. In time, our participants build up to heavier and heavier weights to really get strong. Time to get squatting!
Beyond the strength building benefit, performing a deep squat (also called a “third-world squat”) improves flexibility, by loosening the all-important hip flexors. Modern life has put many of us in an anterior pelvic tilt, due to lots of time spent sitting: at the office, in the car, and in front of the TV. Performing deep squats, along with stretching and foam-rolling, is a great anti-dote to this condition. To perform a deep squat, picture a toddler squatting while playing or (pardon the crude image) how you would squat to use the bathroom without a toilet. This is the position you need to be in to reap the benefits. Practice getting into this position and holding your balance to up to a few minutes at a time. Your body will thank you, and you may even live longer!

Meet your Health & Fitness Specialist

Targeted Strength & Conditioning Testimonial

TSCTargeted Strength and Conditioning completely changed my workout routine. I am down 20 pounds thanks to all of the support from 50/50 and a complete nutrition makeover. My endurance had improved vastly and I had developed a love for spin, but something was missing. My weight loss had plateaued and I felt like I needed a dramatic change.

Jay McWillliams contacted me and I began Targeted Strength and Conditioning. Before anyone begins the class, Jay completes an evaluation to see what weight you will start at, your flexibility, and then he teaches you the proper posture and alignment for different exercises. Jay really takes care to make sure that you will not injure yourself, or REINJURE yourself. I have had a back injury that for years, and after X-rays and PT, still causes me quite a bit of pain from time to time. Since taking the time, care, and strengthening the correct muscle groups I can honestly say that I have not been experiencing pain in my spine, and I think that a significant amount of this strength has come from Targeted Strength and Conditioning.

My body is more sculpted and stronger! Areas that were flabby that I could NOT get to tighten, have tightened!  Lifting weights in a functional, healthy manner was the best thing I could have added to my fitness routine, and I love watching the numbers increase.  I cannot forget to mention how fun this class is as well. There’s a great vibe and wonderful people! I will miss you all so much when I move, and Jay, I cannot thank you enough for introducing me to this aspect of my fitness routine!

-Chelsey Anderson 

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What is Strength Training?

Our bodies function at their best when we optimize our lean muscle mass. How do we increase our lean muscle mass? Strength training! A lot of people who have been to traditional gyms have preconceived notions of what strength training is. Many people picture muscle shirts, clanging weights, and lots of grunting. Don’t worry, strength training is for everybody, and there are many ways to accomplish this goal.
The foundation of strength training is that we challenge our bodies using resistance. This resistance can come in a lot of different forms: weights (dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells), resistance bands and TRX, and even your own body-weight. The important thing is that you challenge your muscles adequately.
In traditional strength training, we map our workouts using sets and reps. Each move is a rep, and the moves completed in succession without a break are a set. A well designed strength workout challenges you to the point that the last several reps of a set are difficult to complete. It is very important to use a heavy enough weight to reach this point of muscle fatigue. Don’t worry- lifting heavy weights does not make you bigger! It makes you stronger, speeds up your metabolism, and gives you countless health benefits. Many studies have demonstrated concrete benefits of adding strength training to your program. Benefits include: increased bone density, injury prevention, decreased cholesterol, and better weight management than cardio alone.
Currently, American College of Sports Medicine recommends a minimum of 2-3 non-consecutive days of strength training per week. The rest day in between these sessions is important for muscle recovery. How do you get started? As discussed above, to see the benefits of strength training you have to challenge your body. To do this in a safe and effective way, I recommend personal training or Targeted Strength and Conditioning as a starting place. Targeted Strength and Conditioning is a focused program that will progress you in a safe and effective manner. It is appropriate for all levels and is conducted in a small group environment. Time to get strong!

Small Group Personal Training is taking off!

The Small Group Training (SGT) Program is an exciting new option being offered for those that want to take their fitness to the next level. These SGT programs consist of specifically designed training sessions to help people learn how to safely, effectively and efficiently meet their goals within a supportive small group environment.

The SGT participants are able to set specific goals for themselves personally and as a group. The small group atmosphere combines the great motivation and camaraderie of group exercise with the custom designed training progression previously only available through personal training. Each session improves upon the last by utilizing an end of session de-briefing to reinforce skills and move forward in our training goals. Because of the personalized attention, the group can more quickly progress towards their goals and utilize a wider variety of exercises, including compound strength training moves and agility drills, than can be taught in a larger class setting. This results in an extremely effective work-out that is safe, fun, and challenging.

Not only are the customized sessions designed for you and the other group members, just as you would find in a personal training session, we are putting an emphasis on making your body stronger, improving your cardiovascular fitness, and increasing the caloric expenditure like never before. We offer six sessions throughout our Spring Schedule, as well as arrange private group sessions outside the scheduled time.  The biggest “value” to our customers participating in this specialized program offering is that the client receives a customized progression developed specifically for the group. This type of customized progression allows goal attainment that cannot be found within a general group exercise class, otherwise only found in Personal Training.

Justin, Katie, and Jay are all experienced Certified Personal Trainers who excel at designing effective exercise progressions.  All take great pride in conducting up-to-date research and custom designing each and every workout to best meet the individual and group needs.  Grab another member, a friend, a colleague, and get in the best shape of your life!

9 Reasons Everyone Should Lift Weights

#1: You’re Happier

Yes, exercise of any kind gets the positive endorphins running through your body, but lifting weights seems to have an increased advantage on your overall stress level. Why? Lots of reasons, described below!

 

#2: You’re More Useful

You were born with a great affinity to do something. You may be gifted to argue cases in court, cook an amazing meal, or keep cool while caring for a dozen 5-year-olds. Lifting weights helps you perform functional tasks better. One of the things we hear most is how much better people feel after initiating a proper strength training routine. It truly can be life-changing.

Suddenly, you’re not stuck waiting for help when a demanding task is put in front of you. Instead, you bend at the knees and get to work.

 

#3: You Get Focused

If you’ve ever struggled with trying to figure out what to do at the gym, we’re here to help. Don’t be afraid to ask how to best compliment some of what you do, outside of Energia. That includes lifting weights, using machines, etc. As your strength and the amount of weight you lift increase, intense focus and proper education is required to avoid injury. This focus and mindbody awareness in the gym—if you let it—will carry over into your non-gym activities.

 

#4: Your Body

Push yourself hard enough and your body will amaze you constantly. But your physique isn’t the only beneficiary of resistance training. Lifting helps your body fend off illnesses and injury by helping you shed unwanted pounds, lowering your blood pressure, improving your heart function, and more.

 

#5: You Do the Impossible

When you start any resistance training program, you can’t imagine lifting any more than you do in your first session. Three weeks later, you’ve already passed the impossible mark. By doing this over and over, you pick up a mental toughness and confidence that will aid you in all areas of life.

 

#6: You Eat Better

Have you been struggling to keep your daily calorie count down? Nothing helps you stay in line better than working out. Your regular weight-lifting routine makes you more aware of what you put in your body, making it easier to say “No” to those temptations that are always around the corner.

 

#7: Your Bones Get Stronger

While the first thing you may notice after lifting weights is stronger muscles, your bones are also secretly gaining strength at the same time. Since the risk of osteoporosis and broken bones only increases as you age, guarding against them with weight lifting only makes sense!

 

#8: Your Balance Improves

Staying on your feet may not be an issue today, but as you age, it will become one of your top priorities. This is especially true considering how often elderly people lose their balance and wind up with life-altering broken bones. Lifting weights at any age will give you a balance boost that will last throughout your life.

 

#9: Your Brain Function Increases

Believe it or not, people who lift weights aren’t the meatheads they’re made out to be. Quite the opposite. Research has proven that lifting weights actually has the power to improve your brain’s ability to do its job. Your metabolism sure likes it too.

 

Reach your fitness potential faster by coupling your good diet with a challenging exercise program. We’re here to motivate, instruct and encourage you to reach your goal.

 

Call or email today to get started on a fitness program that will truly improve your quality of life. It’s the perfect time of year to do so!

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