Three Steps To Reaching Your Goals
Roughly 20% of the U.S. population has a gym membership. Based on my 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, I would estimate that of that 20%, only one half to three quarters actually regularly and consistently use that membership. I find that the majority of people who struggle with consistency do so because they either lack focus and goals or because they fail to reach those goals. At Fenton Fitness & Athletic Center, we have found there to be three key components to reaching any goal in the fitness and nutrition realm.
Setting the Goal
First and foremost, we must name our goal. I suggest writing this goal down and possibly sharing this goal with somebody you trust and who supports you. When choosing your goal, you want it to be specific, something that can be measured, something realistic/attainable, and you want to give yourself a time frame to accomplish the goal. Think about why you want to reach that goal. It can be helpful to place the written goal somewhere visible that you will see on a regular basis. If we can’t make a given goal happen, we can alter our actions to bring us closer to that goal.
Once our goal is set, we want to write out the behaviors and skills needed to reach that goal. For example, if your goal is to drop 20lbs, two key behaviors would be eating less calories and being more active. In the case of somebody who wants to be able to Bench Press their body weight, their skills might be bench pressing progressively heavier weights 2-3 times each week and eating sufficient protein.
After setting our behaviors that are needed to achieve our goal, we must then set up our daily habits or practices that will lead to successful execution of our behaviors, which in turn will lead to achieving our goals. Our habits for our sample goals might look like this:
20 pounds weight loss (less calories, more activity)
-Pack gym bag before going to bed and put in car, including a protein shake in bag
-Go to bed 7-8 hours before alarm is going to go off
-Wake up 15 minutes earlier to eat breakfast at home instead of fast food
-Workout at lunch hour instead of going out to eat with coworkers, drink shake instead of eating lunch.
Bench Press Body weight (2-3 progressively heavier bench press workouts and more protein)
-Go to bed 7-8 hours before alarm is going to go off
-Set alarm 1 hour early Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for early morning workout
-Prepare/plan breakfast the before going to bed and pack lunch for next day targeting 0.15-0.25g of protein/pound of body weight.
-Buy quality protein shake, protein bars, and/or Jerky to help supplement protein needs at snacks. Keep them at home, in the car, and at work.
From start to finish it can be helpful to set up a chart that looks something like this.
It should be noted that it is best to only introduce one major goal at a time into your life. I recommend picking just one goal and working on that for 3-12 months before adding or changing goals.
Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CSFC, Pn1
Calculating Nutritional Needs
If you are hoping to see serious changes in your weight and body composition, then nutrition is going to play a huge role. There are many parts to a solid nutrition plan. For the purposes of weight gain/loss, we must look at overall energy intake. A chronic surplus of calories consumed leads to weight gain, while a chronic deficit leads to weight loss. But most people want to do more than to lose or gain weight. Most individuals want to gain or maintain lean body mass (muscle, bone, organs, tendons/ligaments, water) while decreasing body fat. For this, we need to focus on protein. Nutrition needs to be based on performance goals, the types of activities you enjoy doing, your lifestyle, and your food preferences. Adherence to a program is huge, so it’s important to pick a nutritional approach that fits within your lifestyle.
Calories: We must first start with calculating caloric needs. First, determine a good target body weight (TBW). This should be based on a healthy/realistic body composition range. For men, this is typically 10-20% body fat, for women it tends to be 18-30%. A good trainer can help you determine this number/range. Once you have your TBW, we must determine your activity multiplier. It is important to be brutally honest here, odds are you are 1 lower than you think. The multipliers are:
Very Inactive & Older: Multiplier is 8. This is for anybody who never does anything physical day to day. They have a long commute, office job, and engage in little unplanned movement from day to day. They are also over the age of 55.
Very Inactive: Multiplier is 9. Same as above but for individuals under the age of 55.
Inactive: Multiplier is 10. This for anyone who while mostly sedentary during the day, does get up and walk around or move several times per day. This can also apply to someone who doesn’t move much during the day, but has a standing desk.
Moderately Active: Multiplier is 11. This individual is never sitting for more than 90 minutes straight and moves around several times per day. They also engage in leisurely activities a few times each week such as walking or casual bike riding.
Active: Multiplier is 12. This individual sits no more than 60 minutes at a time during the day, and engages in leisurely activity 5-7 days per week.
Very Active: Multiplier is 13. This is for individuals who have a very physically demanding job such as construction, landscaping, assembly line work, etc.
Hard Gainer: Multiplier is 14. This is reserved only for those individuals who are trying to gain wait, have a very low body fat percentage (below the norms listed), and has never been able to gain wait.
The final thing we must determine is how many moderate to intense training hours we are going to perform each week. Again, be realistic. Don’t count warm up time, and if you think you are going to train 3-4 hours per week, use the low number for weight loss and the high number for weight gain. Here is what the equation looks like:
(TBW x (activity multiplier + training hours))=estimated caloric needs
Here are two examples to help you work through this:
200lb male, with a target body weight of 185lbs who is inactive, and trains 3 hours/week.
(185 x (10+3))=2405 calories/day
150lb female, with a target body weight of 140lbs who is very active and trains 2 hours/week. (140 x (13+2))= 2100 calories/day.
Protein: Now that calories have been determined, we must determine protein intake. Calories will dictate weight gain/loss. Protein will help preserve or increase lean body mass. Protein intake should be set at 0.72 up to 1g per pound of target body weight (TBW). So, for our 2 examples listed earlier, we would have the following:
200lb male with a TBW of 185lbs. 0.72 x 185= 133.2g
The low end would be 133 grams of protein, and we could go up to 185 grams reasonably.
150lb female with TBW of 140lbs. 0.72 x 140= 100.8g
This puts our low end at 101 grams of protein with the upper reasonable range of 140g.
There are 4 calories in 1 gram of protein. This will come into play when we set our carbohydrate intake later. Our male would be targeting 133-185g of protein per day which equates to 532-740 calories coming from protein. For our female, we have targets of 101-140g of protein each day with 404-560 calories coming from protein:
Fat: Fat is essential for optimal hormonal health and should be consumed from a variety of sources. There is no good or bad fat (outside of trans fats), we should simply seek a variety of fat sources. Fats (just like carbohydrates) have a huge healthy range you can pick from based on food preference and tolerance. Fat should make up 20% of your calories at a minimum, but can go as high as 1g per pound of target body weight (TBW). Using our previous examples:
200lb male, with a TBW of 185lbs. Calories projected at 2405/day. 0.2 x 2405=481 calories coming from fat. There are 9 calories in each gram of fat. So, we take 481/9=53 grams of fat each day for the lowest possible number. The upper end would be 185g or 1665 calories from fat. Our fat range could be 53g (481 calories) up to 185g (1665 calories).
150lb female, with TBW of 140lbs. Calories projected at 2100/day. 0.2 x 2100=420 calories from fat. 420/9=47 g of fat. Her low end would be 47g (420 calories from fat) up to 140g (1260 calories from fat).
Carbohydrates: While carbohydrates are not technically essential in our diet, your brain prefers them for fuel, and intense exercise tends to be best fueled through their inclusion. However, for the recreational gym goer who trains 2-4 days per week, the amount of carbohydrate intake probably has minimal bearing on progress. Food preference, as well as how your body tolerates different levels should be your main determinant in setting levels here. To determine carbohydrate levels, we simply take your remaining calories (after setting protein and fat intakes) and a lot them to carbohydrate intake. There are 4 calories in 1 gram of carbohydrate. So again, using our previous examples, we would have the following:
200lb male with TBW of 185lbs. 2405 calories per day, sets protein at 0.72/lb of TBW. This equals 133g of Protein (532 calories). This guy loves fat so he sets his fat at 1g per pound of TBW. This would be 185g of fat (1665 calories). So 2405-(532+1665)=208 remaining calories. 208/4=52 grams of carbohydrate. Same guy may also choose to up protein to 1g/lb of TBW. This would give us 185g protein (740 calories). Let’s say he loves pasta, bread, etc. So, he sets his fat to the minimum of 53 grams (481 calories). In this example we have 2405-(740+481)=1184 calories from carbohydrates. 1184/4=296 grams of carbohydrate per day. There is an endless combination of macronutrients here.
Conclusion: There are many approaches that can be used when determining nutritional needs. The most important variable is adherence. Can you stick to this approach long term? Data suggests that both very low carbohydrate diets (under 100g) and very low fat diets (under 15% of total calories) are difficult to maintain beyond 6 months. Do the foods you eat make you feel energized, taste good, and satisfy you? These are all things that should be considered. We want to emphasize whole foods, while not avoiding any food group entirely unless you have a proven medical condition. These equations are to be used to help you set baseline numbers. For weight loss, we should target 0.5% up to 1.5% body weight lost each week. For weight gain, we should target 0.25% up to 1% body weight gain each month. If your rates fall below or above those respective rates, we simply need to increase/decrease caloric intake accordingly. For help setting your numbers schedule your nutrition consultation by reaching out at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 810-750-0351. Nutrition coaching is available for those that require more education and/or accountability.
-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CFSC, Pn1
Do We Really Need Them?
I had my first introduction to Weightlifting (often referred to as Olympic lifting) in my high school football days using the Bigger Faster Stronger program. Power Cleans were a staple of this program and the Power Snatch was also introduced to us during a clinic our football coach put together. Over the last several years, weightlifting movements have made a comeback into many gyms. These movements include the Snatch (bringing the bar from the floor to overhead in one fluid movement), the Clean & Jerk (bringing the bar from the floor to overhead in two distinct movements), and their derivatives. Though there are several reasons to include these movements in programs, there are far more reasons, in my professional opinion, not to.
The primary reason one would or should be using Olympic lifting movements is to improve/maximize power output, or Rate of Force Development (RFD). RFD is a primary determinant of success in many sports. This is what allows you to accelerate quickly, jump higher/farther, and change direction quickly. There are volumes of research on the Clean & Jerk, Snatch, and their variations which demonstrate that these movements work very well at improving power and RFD; however, these lifts are not the only means of accomplishing this. Moreover, there are multiple reasons not to incorporate them:
Weightlifting movements are incredibly technical and take massive amounts of time to learn and perform correctly. Most successful weightlifters at the international level have spent decades learning and perfecting their craft. It is not uncommon to see weightlifters performing upwards of 10-12 training sessions per week. The only other sport I can think of that takes this level of technical prowess is gymnastics. While this is admirable for those choosing to compete in these sports, the level of time commitment is not practical for the average fitness enthusiast.
Due to the speed and dynamic nature of the Olympic lifts, there is a much higher probability of something going wrong. Additionally, the vast majority of the fitness population lacks the requisite mobility and stability to safely get into the required positions to perform these exercises. In some fitness circles, you will see these movements programmed in for very high repetitions. When this happens, you are ramping up fatigue which makes proper technique/form nearly impossible and minimizes power/RFD adaptation which is the whole point of these exercises. These lifts should be programmed at 1-5 rep sets with 2-5 minute rest intervals between.
For most people, time is a constant barrier to improved fitness. For competitive athletes, they must balance the demands of sport practice, strength training, conditioning, skill practice, and recovery. For this reason, the primary goal of a quality program should be to maximize efficiency of training. Due to the mobility demands and speed of the movements, the warm ups required can take 15-20 minutes. Combine that with the longer rest periods required and you barely have time to get in enough quality work to see optimal adaptations. It is not uncommon for a weightlifter to take 90-120 minutes to complete a workout.
You may be asking yourself how to maximize power if you can’t perform the Olympic lifts. Many people feel these movements are imperative for optimal fitness and performance. In February of 2017, I traveled to Ohio State University where I heard the head Strength and Conditioning coaches for the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, and Arizona Cardinals speak. None of them use Olympic lifts with their athletes. If arguably the top athletes in the world don’t need these movements, then I think the rest of the population can get away without using them as well.
Over the next several weeks, I will introduce fourteen exercises that you can use instead to maximize speed, power, and RFD with less risk of injury, less technical skill required, and more efficiency. Stay tuned for exercise descriptions and video demonstration.
-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CFSC, Pn1
Heat Or Ice For My Shoulder?
Try Standing Upright
In the gym, at the golf course, and during a visit to the hardware store, I am asked my advice on abolishing shoulder pain. What everyone wants is the magical exercise, miracle ointment, or newest thermal treatment. What they need–and what they do not want to hear–is that they have to fix their horrible posture.
Sustained poor posture can alter the function of your shoulder complex. The shoulder girdle has only one, very small, bone to body connection. The entire system is an interconnected series of muscles and ligaments. Sustained slouched over postures create a faulty length-tension relationship in these structures that places adverse stress and strain on the four joints of the shoulder and the nerves in the neck and upper back.
OMG I sit lmGm (like my GrandMa).
Shoulder posture pain problems are happening earlier. I do not know if it is more tech toys, less physical education in schools, or a change in youth activity levels, but in the physical therapy clinic we are seeing younger people with older people postural shoulder pain. They sit on the treatment table in extremely slouched over positions and are unable to pull themselves up into a correct position. Most are unconvinced that how they sit and stand could be the generator of their pain problem.
What exercises can I do?
Stronger muscles will help restore posture. The shoulder evolved to pull, lift, and carry. The muscles that keep the shoulder strong and happy are in the back of the shoulder. They hold the shoulder in a healthy position on the body. Most of us never perform any pulling or lifting activities other than hoisting our laptop or toting our smart phone. Making your shoulder girdle muscles stronger will help, but being mindful of your posture during the day is the most important factor. Physical Therapist and US Soccer Team Trainer Sue Falsone says “You can’t out rep poor posture.”
Start with how you work and live.
Eight hours a day for five days a week equals 2080 hours of computer / desk time a year for the average office worker. Add in a daily one hour car commute and another two hours of television a day and we push the Monday through Friday slump numbers to 2860 hours a year (120 days). We have spent millions on state of the art chairs, elevated monitors, slanting keyboards, wrist rests, and lumbar supports. Office modifications, while well intentioned and generally a good idea, cannot compete with 2860 hours (this number is probably low) of sitting in a year. In order to fight against the postural stress that creates pain, we need to get up and move.
Recent research on prolonged sitting has demonstrated that the amount of movement we need to stay healthy is greater than we once thought. To combat the adaptive changes of prolonged sitting, it is suggested you get up and move every twenty minutes. Set a timer, enlist the help of your coworkers, and work at this every workday for a month. I believe you will be surprised by the results.
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS
Discover the difference between muscle soreness following exercise activity and pain you should be concerned about in “Do I Have A Problem?”. Jeff Tirrell gives advice for women on optimizing performance and Mike O’Hara discusses training priorities for those over forty.
Movement You Should Master
Modern medicine is keeping us alive longer, so now we need to put some effort into staying lively longer. Mastering specific movements will improve our quality of life and help us stay independent and injury-free. I have come up with several exercises you can use to make yourself stronger, more durable, and develop a healthier, more functional body. An exercise that I have found to be very helpful in restoring the capacity to get up and down off the floor is the Step Up.
The ability to go up and down steps will almost always be needed. Losing this ability is a sure sign that one’s quality of life and independence are quickly fading. Step Ups can be done in a variety of different directions and loaded a number of ways making them easily progressed or regressed based on goals and fitness level. Step Ups improve balance and strength in the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Depending how you load, they can also challenge the core and shoulders. The average step in the United States is 7 inches tall. Strive to work up to a 14 inch box so that no flight of stairs will ever intimidate you.
Here Coach Katie demonstrates two different versions we like to use and the benefits of each along with some progressions. Watch the video and give it a try: https://youtu.be/iGXtKyGlKMg.
1) Anterior Step up (Progression: Anterior Step Up with Racked Kettlebell hold)
2) Lateral Step Up (Progression: Lateral Step Up with one side loaded)
-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1
Movement You Should Master
Modern medicine is keeping us alive longer, so now we need to put some effort into staying lively longer. Mastering specific movements will improve our quality of life and help us stay independent and injury-free. I have come up with several exercises you can use to make yourself stronger, more durable, and develop a healthier, more functional body. An exercise that I have found to be efficient and effective is a Weighted Carry.
Very few things are more functional than a carry. You’d be hard pressed to get through daily life without having to carry something at least a few times per week. While basic, a carry is an efficient and effective full body exercise. Depending on the carry you choose, the load is virtually limitless. Performed for time or distance, carries will always improve gait and core stability. Depending on which version you use, they can also be an effective tool for improving shoulder mobility/stability, grip strength, balance, and overall awesomeness. Watch the video and give it try: https://youtu.be/PaP4-IlVAOA
Coach Chad demonstrates my top four carry picks:
1) Farmers Walk (gait, core stability, grip strength, upper back, legs)
2) Suitcase Carry (gait, core anti-lateral flexion, grip, upper back, balance)
3) Waiters Carry (gait, core stability, shoulder stability, balance)
4) Double Waiters Carry (gait, core stability, shoulder mobility, shoulder stability, balance)
-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1
Movement You Should Master
Modern medicine is keeping us alive longer, so now we need to put some effort into staying lively longer. Mastering specific movements will improve our quality of life and help us stay independent and injury-free. I have come up with several exercises you can use to make yourself stronger, more durable, and develop a healthier, more functional body. An exercise that helps build upper body strength and maintain shoulder mobility is the Pull Up.
If you are a superhero and find yourself hanging off the edge of a cliff or a building, you’ll need to pull yourself up. All kidding aside, the pull up is a fantastic exercise to build strength in the lats, biceps, rhomboids, and rear delts, while helping to maintain shoulder mobility. Pull ups can be done with a variety of grips. The most important thing is to use a full range of motion and maintain control (avoiding excessive movement to reduce injury risk). I utilize one of three pull up versions with most clients depending on their fitness level. Watch the video and give it a try.
1) Eccentric Pull ups: Use a box to start in the top position, and slowly lower yourself with complete control down to the bottom position. Once you can complete 10 of these with a good 4-6 second descent, then it’s time to move on to a standard pull up.
2) Standard Pull up: Start hanging from a bar (or rings) with your arms completely straight. Pull yourself up until your clavicle touches the bar. Slowly lower yourself back down until your arms are completely straight and your body is motionless.
3) Xiphoid Pull ups: Start as you would for a standard pull up, but rather than pulling to your clavicle, you want to lean back and pull yourself up until your xiphoid process (bony part at the bottom of your sternum) touches the bar. Then, lower yourself in a controlled manner back to the start.
See video of pull ups here: https://youtu.be/Cyvp4X2MRC0
-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1
HIIT Methods: Air Assault Dual Action Bike
The Air Assault dual action bike is a challenging metabolic disrupting machine. For older fitness clients, heavier folks, and those of us with legs that are less tolerant of impact, the Air Assault improves cardio-respiratory capacity and minimizes joint stress. If you are seeking an intense training experience, look no further than the Air Assault bike.
The number two reason people give for not exercising is limited time–lack of results is number one. The Air Assault solves both of these problems. Training sessions on the Air Assault are brief and very effective.
Set your seat for height and reach so at the bottom of the pedal stroke, the knee is bent about 20 degrees. The arms should not fully extend at the elbows. The bike is simple– increase the pedal speed and you push a greater volume of air. Go slow—less resistance. Go fast—more resistance. Keep a tall posture to effectively drive with the arms and assist the legs. I have outlined four of my favorite HIIT Air Assault training routines. As usual, remember to perform a movement preparation warm up before launching into a HIIT session.
30 seconds on / 30 seconds off
Ride at an exertion level of 7/10 (1 is a stroll and 10 is sprinting away from a lion) for 30 seconds and then pedal slowly at a 1/10 exertion level for 30 seconds. Repeat the cycle for ten intervals. You are done in ten minutes.
45 seconds on / 15 seconds off
Ride at an exertion level of 7/10 (1 is a stroll and 10 is swimming to escape the alligator) for 45 seconds and then pedal slowly for at a 1/10 exertion level for 30 seconds. Repeat the cycle for five intervals. This workout takes five minutes.
Twenty seconds on at an exertion level of 9/10 followed by ten seconds off at 1/10. Repeat eight times. This format is built right into the Air Assault bike timer. Do not get discouraged if you have to stop well before completing eight intervals. Work your way up to completing all four minutes of the session.
1.5, 1.0, 0.5 Mile Intervals
Ride for one and half miles and then rest 90 seconds. Ride for one mile and rest for 45 seconds. Ride for a half mile. Record you overall time.
View Mike’s video on the assault bike: https://youtu.be/8Y3rmX2cF3s
For more information on the many benefits of HIIT read the The One Minute Workout by Dr. Martin Gibala.
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS
Pushing For Performance
HIIT Methods: Sled Training
A good high intensity interval training (HIIT) session creates a disturbance of metabolic homeostasis while minimizing stress on the joints and / or compression of the spine. Pushing a sled meets both of those goals. Sled sessions are time efficient, and they have the added benefits of improving leg strength, core stability, and they make you better at nearly every daily challenge. A well designed HIIT sled training protocol allows you to assess performance and track progress. Presented below are four of my most frequently prescribed sled HIIT protocols. Ditch the elliptical, cancel your Zumba sessions, and for the next month, give these a try.
I cannot tell you how much weight to use on the sled. In general, men can start with bodyweight and women with half to two thirds bodyweight loads. You will quickly learn if you have too much or too little on the sled. Any progressive gym will have several sleds and plenty of open space. The trainers at Fenton Fitness can get you started.
30 / 30 Protocol: Place a stopwatch so it is visible on the sled. The load on the sled should create a thirty second interval exertion rating that feels “easy”. Push the sled for thirty seconds and then rest for 30 seconds. Perform eight intervals.
10 – 20 – 30 – 10 – 20 – 30 – 10 – 20 – 30 Yard Interval: Load your sled and start the timer. Push the sled for 10 yards and rest twenty seconds. Push the sled 20 yards and rest twenty seconds. Push the sled 30 yards and rest twenty seconds. Repeat 10, 20, and 30 yards two more times. Finish all of the intervals and you will have covered 180 yards. Record your time.
60 – 30 – 15 Yard Interval: Be careful that you do not use too much load for this HIIT sled session. Push the sled 60 yards. Rest thirty seconds. Push the sled 30 yards. Rest thirty seconds. Push the sled 15 yards. Record your time.
15 Yards Times Ten: Use a load on the sled that allows you to move at a fairly steady pace. Think racehorse, not plow horse. Place a stopwatch so it is visible on the sled. Start the timer and push the sled fifteen yards. Rest ten seconds and then push another fifteen yard push. Perform ten, fifteen yard intervals. Record your time.
View Mike’s video on sled training here: https://youtu.be/PfOccHMmzF4
For more information on the many benefits of high intensity interval training, read the The One Minute Workout by Dr. Martin Gibala.
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS