Learn how to keep your shoulders healthy in Mike’s article, “Graceful Shoulder Aging”. Jeff Tirrell gives some practical advice on how to train, and Mike explains the importance of changing your fitness routine.
Learn how some simple exercises can reduce or prevent lower back pain in Mike O’Hara’s article “Daily Lower Back Pain Meditation”. Jeff Tirrell explains the importance of working with a qualified trainer in a small group. Do you know the five fitness numbers everyone should know?
Hang Up and Drive
While on a recent trip out of town, I witnessed a young man plow his car into the back of a delivery truck. The young man was gazing down at his mobile phone and failed to stop when the truck in front of him stopped for a school bus. The airbag did its job and the driver appeared to be unscathed. The passengers in the back seat of his car did not fair as well and both were taken away in an ambulance.
The technology exists to turn off a mobile phone if it is moving in a car. The most dangerous thing the average American does in their day is travel in a car. Mobile phone use makes car travel dramatically more dangerous. Educational campaigns and fines have not reduced mobile phone use by drivers. Many people will never be able to control their impulsive addiction to the mobile phone. Locking out cell phones while the car is moving is the only answer.
Physical therapist clean up the physical damage created by drivers distracted by their cell phones. Auto accidents often create pain and performance problems that never fully resolve. Blocking the mobile phone while traveling in a car may have the unintended consequence of restoring the lost art of conversation–you remember talking, don’t you? While cruising along on this brief bit of magic we call life, you do not want the final sound you hear to be the ring from your cell phone.
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS
Mike O’Hara gives tips for aging gracefully and staying fit in his article, The Five Don’ts of Sustainable Fitness. Learn the importance of increasing mobility and stability in order to get stronger, and discover how a simple test that measures how well you get up from the floor can tell a lot about whether or not your fitness program is working.
Real Core Training Part One
Like everything in the fitness world, core training has evolved. When I bought my first bodybuilding magazine in the late 90s, the word “core” wasn’t even used. Instead, you would find ab workouts, oblique workouts, and sometime, low back workouts. Like pretty much everything in the 90s, muscles were trained in isolation with little concern for how the musculoskeletal system was designed to function as a unit. We have come a long way in our understanding of physiology, biomechanics, and injury prevention/reduction.
The core used to be trained and often still is through movement: flexion (anterior), lateral flexion, extension, and rotation. Sit ups, crunches, side bends, and Russian twists aim to strengthen the muscles concentrically and eccentrically. These build mass and thickness to the core musculature. The second way we train the core is to recognize it as a stabilizer of the low back and hips. This involves training this musculature to resist movement. When it comes to increasing strength, power, speed, and reducing injury, this training is more important than dynamically training the core. This style of training is referred to as “anti-core training” because we are resisting flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and rotation. The other benefit of anti-core training is that it involves isometric contractions which are much less likely to create muscle hypertrophy, which individuals typically don’t want in their waist. I typically recommend that 70-90% of your core training consist of anti-core work depending on your health/injury history and goals.
The key to good core training is understanding what you are trying to accomplish, as well as how to progress or regress the movement. Here are the some of our favorites that we use at Fenton Fitness for each of the four anti-core categories.
Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CSFC, Pn1
Kettlebell/Dumbbell (KB/DB) Throat Holds
Grab a KB/DB and hold it in the goblet position directly under your chin. Stand tall and maintain a neutral lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spine position. Don’t allow the weight to rest on your chest. Hold this position for up to 60 seconds.
KB/DB Throat Carry
Once you’ve mastered Throat Holds, you are ready to walk. Position yourself in the same set up, but now you are going to walk while maintaining the same upper body posture and a normal gait. Start with 20 yards and work your way up to 100.
Hyperextension Bench ISO Lumbar Extensions
Set yourself up on the hyperextension bench with the thigh pad below your hips and above your knees. Assume a neutral lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spine position. Hold this position for up to 45 seconds before adding weight.
Glute Ham Bench ISO Lumbar Extensions
Position yourself in the same setup as with the hyperextension bench but use the glute ham developer bench. Work up to 30 second holds before adding weight.
For video demonstration of these exercises, click here
To combat the effects of aging, consistent exercise is key. Mike O’Hara discusses the benefits of fitness and gives tips on starting and continuing a program of exercise for life in his article, The Three Do’s of Sustainable Fitness. Jeff Tirrell of Fenton Fitness gives nutrition tips for athletes and Mike’s exercise for better posture and more efficient movement is the bird dog.
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
Sarcopenia And The Media
Older individuals have the most to gain from strength training. Six weeks of dedicated strength training will normalize balance, rejuvenate posture, revive the metabolism, and eliminate long-standing pain. I often tell physical therapy patients that strength training is the “fountain of youth”. Unfortunately, it is difficult to convince older individuals that they need to become dedicated to a routine of consistent resistance training. I recently got some help from Jane Brody in the New York Times, *Preventing Muscle Loss Among the Elderly.
Drs. Evans and Rosenburg are Tufts University researchers interested in the physical attributes that keep humans healthy and vigorous over an entire life span. They have determined that the top four biomarkers are:
- Muscle Mass. What percentage of your body is made of muscle?
- Strength. Can you use that muscle to push, pull, lift and carry?
- Basal Metabolic Rate. The number of calories your body expends at rest.
- Bodyfat Percentage. What percentage of your body is composed of fat?
They named these top four biomarkers, the decisive tetrad. They are the prerequisites to maintaining healthy numbers in all of the other essential biomarkers.
- Aerobic Capacity
- Blood Sugar Tolerance
- Cholesterol / HDL ratio
- Blood Pressure
- Bone Density
- Internal Body Temperature Regulation
Drs. Evans and Rosenburg coined the term age related sarcopenia in their 1991 book Biomarkers. It refers to the gradual loss of muscle mass that occurs as we age. The keys to aging well; staying durable- no injuries, and maintaining control of all health parameters is maintaining or improving muscle mass / strength and eating properly. An ongoing program of strength training and nutritional discipline are the foremost components of fitness and health.
I was happy to see that Jane recommended her elderly compatriots consume more protein. Not enormous amounts of protein- just some protein. Many fitness clients fail to make optimal gains because they have the protein intake of a bunny rabbit. Adequate training recovery requires the building blocks of muscle in order to produce results. A bagel for breakfast, a kale sandwich at lunch, a yogurt snack and a diner of soup, bread and ice cream does not supply the nutrients necessary for recovery.
So, take the time to read the amazing Jane Brody and then get those dumbbells out of the basement.
*Brody, Jane. Preventing Muscle Loss Among the Elderly, September 1, 2018, New York Times. View article
Michael O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS
That pain in your arm or hand could be coming from somewhere else. Read Mike O’Hara’s article, Changing Locations to find out more. Jeff Tirrell gives nutrition tips and Mike discusses the benefits of using an agility ladder.
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