Information Overload


I was thinking the other day just how many sites and tv shows there are dedicated to health and fitness information.  It really can be confusing, even for me.  There are times where I just have to look at things through a filter and disregard most of it.  I can only imagine how my clients feel.  These days anyone can put up information on the internet and make it look legitimate.  Here are some thoughts about how to either accept or reject this information (or at least is it worth investigating further?)

  • Does it sound reasonable?  If you were to explain it to a friend, would he/she look at you like you were crazy?
  • Would you give this to your kids?  Better yet, would you give it to a pregnant woman?
  • What are the intentions of the person talking about it.  Are they selling it?
  • Why do you need it?

After I answer these questions, I usually throw the idea away.  Sometimes, I may write a note to myself to check it out further.  For example, I may look at some studies or go to some of my professional trusted resources.  For most people, just ask an expert that you trust.  However, if people used these questions, I bet i’d get less questions!

We as humans like variety.  Variety can be a great thing, sometimes.  Other times, variety is our downfall.  We don’t need 4,327 ways to blast our triceps.  How about a set of 10 strict push-ups?  Oh, I forgot, push-ups were so 1997.

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Officially Launching Online Programs for Fat Loss, Muscle Gain, and/or Strength Development


I have been training clients online for some time now.  It started out small, just a few people.  However, due to increasing success, and with that more referrals, the program has gotten a bit bigger.   I have developed a systematic approach that can help a lot more people reach their goals.  I never advertised any of it until now.   I have decided to devote a good part of my business towards servicing clients who live all over the country.  It is a new era.   Cell phones, tablets, Skype, Facetime……we can be anywhere at anytime.  Hectic work schedules, unexpected events, and a busy family life make it very difficult for most people to get to the gym on a regular basis.  Even worse, when you do get to the gym, is it the most effective program?

My job, for the last 10 years now, is to eliminate the things that do not get you closer to your goal.  Cut out all the static, and get right to the basics.  This does not change whether we train in person or online.  No need for hours at the gym doing endless sets of bicep curls, walking on the treadmill, etc.  If your goal is fat loss, we get right to the things that will get you there….nothing else.

Everyone is different.  Different goals, different schedules, and different experience levels. By having a versatile system, I can accommodate everyone.
I offer:

  • One on one skype training.  No need for a gym
  • Program design, whether you will be training at home, a gym, or both.
  • Nutrition Counseling

Some may need all of those things, some only 1.  It depends on your goals and experience.  Either way, I get you to hit your goal in the quickest time possible.

How are my programs different?

  • I specialize in the last few stubborn pounds, whether for fat loss or muscle gain.  No more plateaus.  
  • Up to date proven methods, but more importantly, how to apply in real life
  • People learn differently, so I have several ways of teaching and monitoring nutrition
  • Proper program design.  You stay safe, get steady progress, and don’t burnout after a month
  • Everything is customized to YOU.  We can get through and sometimes even rid yourself of old injuries
  • Accountability.  I make sure you stay on track long term and get the results you always dreamed of every New Years 
  • Debunk myths about training, nutrition, and supplements
  • Flexible Schedule 
  • Proper guidance for sport specific training

If you are looking for something different than the cookie cutter programs out there, or are tired of spending time at the gym living in a plateau, I can help.

Everything is customized to what YOU NEED.  I’m excited about this opportunity.  I can help a lot more people than just one on one personal training all of the time.  The best part is, it is way more affordable for you.

Contact me for a free assessment and we can determine what you need to get you to your goals!

Call or text:  801-558-4286

halpernfitness@gmail.com

or

Hit the contact me button on the site.

Be sure to checkout the “about me” page as well as my testimonials (I have plenty more to put up as well)

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I am a “Functional Trainer”


What is functional training?

According to dictionary.com,

Function means:
the kind of action or activity proper to a person, thing, or institution; the purpose for which something is designed or exists; role.

I had the opportunity to see Mike Boyle and Gray Cook last weekend at the Perform Better seminar. Mike is labeled as a “functional strength coach”, and Gray, a Physical Therapist, speaks of “functional movement”.  Both had comments about what the term meant.  Coach Boyle joked that he is linked to people standing on balance balls, blindfolded, on one foot (none of which is close to true).  He also said some people are surprised to see his athletes lifting heavy weights (he just happens to have one of the most successful performance enhancing business of anyone training collegiate or professional athletes).  Gray said “tying shit to golf clubs and swinging them is not functional movements!” read more →

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Random thoughts about my field and personal development


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I am going past 10 years in the field.  Just a little reflection and how I am moving forward. The personal trainer’s role, as well as the Registered Dietitians role has certainly changed over the years.  Here are a few brief topics that have come up in the field, and how I am steering my career and personal development in no real order.

Bodybuilding has had way too much influence on personal training.  Personal training clients are not very well served by classic bodybuilding methods.  We do not need single joint exercises, machine based exercises, or the volume that a bodybuilder does.  I am in no way saying that there are no overlapping principles, but they are different fields. read more →

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Periodization and Why You Should Use It


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Periodization has been around for a long time.   Athletes are the ones who mostly use it while training for a competition.  It has been known for ages that it works.  Research has backed it, results have backed it, and it makes common sense when you really think about the concepts.  Many textbooks have been devoted to periodization, which is both good and bad.  The good: much research takes place and it is time tested.  The bad:  over complication leads to the average gym rat not having access to it.

What periodization really means is this:

A plan must be made with a destination in mind, both short and long term.  This plan must include stops along the way, reassessing the path and checking for roadblocks.  Having a plan ensures that one does not travel in circles, wasting time and enthusiasm.  Here is the deal: most people who go to the gym do not have a plan.  Losing weight or gaining muscle is not a plan, it is a destination. read more →

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Recovery: the most overlooked aspect of a training program


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Without proper recovery, no amount or type of exercise can help you achieve your goals.  Whether you are training for fat loss, muscle size, endurance…….it makes no difference.  Your body does NOT get stronger from lifting weights, it does NOT get get bigger, faster, or drop body fat from working out.  It does all these things from RECOVERING from working out.  Your adaptations take place after the exercise.   For example, research has been showing that high intensity interval training drops body fat more efficiently when compared to long, slow cardio.  You actually burn less calories during the intervals, yet you lose more weight because your body is still mobilizing fat when you are recovering hours after the workout. read more →

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Post Workout Nutrition to Break Through Plateaus.


Are you stuck at a certain weight after initially losing a decent amount?  Can’t get past a certain amount of resistance on a particular exercise?

Everyone looks to “switching it up” with their exercise routine, which, I agree with.  However, it may not always be what is holding you back.

I would argue that post workout nutrition is essential for both weight loss and for adding strength.  These two things are tied together though.  The stronger you are, the more weight you lift, the more fat you burn off.
There a few things to consider after a workout:

  1. Protein + Carbohydrate.  Protein is more important, but the two work  in synergy.  You need protein (go for whey, or hemp if you are lactose intolerant)  because after a workout you are in a catabolic state.  Your body is using everything it can to recover from the workout, including your muscles!  Getting protein as quickly as possible (within 45 min post workout, ideally start before workout ends) will help keep you in an anabolic, or muscle building state (at the very least, it prevents breakdown).  The carbs serve to replenish your muscle stores of energy so the next workout is optimal.  It also helps create a hormonal response that helps the protein be delivered to the muscles.  I am not advocating tons of protein, 15-25g should be plenty, along with a piece of fruit or yogurt would be great.
  2. Liquid form.  Drink your protein and carb!  It will get absorbed quicker due to easier digestion
  3. Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.  Your body will use the nutrition optimally when your liver and kidneys are working efficiently to take care of the exercise byproducts.

Remember, weight loss, as expressed in pounds, does not always tell the whole story.  You lost 10lbs because you starved yourself, great, most of that was muscle!  Now, your metabolism and energy are down, and when you gain that weight back, it will be harder to lose (sound familiar).  This is why very low calorie diets do not work long term.

Lift heavy (relatively speaking), maintain good form, adjust intensity/duration/volume/sets/reps/exercises,  recover properly, and fuel your body correctly.  If you miss any of these, you will inevitably stall.

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The most important things to consider when training for a big hiking trip


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Balanced body. What I mean by this is that the energy the body produces goes to the intended places. For example, if you have a tight (or weak) muscle on one side of the body, it may not show it as you walk or hike (visually, that is). However, somewhere, somehow another muscle/joint is compensating for that lack of mobility or strength. The energy is “leaking”, as Gray Cook would say, to areas that do not need extra energy. This is the root of most overuse injuries.

Prevention:

  •  Get yourself screened in the FMS (Functional Movement Screen), which is a series of 7 movements designed to find imbalances in the body. The FMS is a helpful tool, but remember, it is only a tool. You still have to do the corrective exercises prescribed by the qualified individual you are working with!
  • If you cannot get the FMS done (people have done well before it, it just makes things a bit easier), just make sure to have a balanced workout plan. “Plan” is the keyword. Make sure you map out workouts at least a month in advance. Make sure there are equal amounts of pushing movements to pulling. Get plenty of legwork in, and don’t forget about core (think plank, not crunches). Stretch your tightest muscles as a priority.

The other things to consider all tie into balance!

  1.  Ankles! We wear shoes most of the time. These cushioned shoes prevent our muscles and neurological system from working as it was intended in the foot and ankle. This allows us to keep going even when our other joints have had enough. You may not feel it during the workout, but overtime if there is an imbalance, an overuse injury will occur (the knee joint is like a punching bag, it takes the hits that other joints make it take or “duck”). Training with barefoot shoes can help this tremendously. You will experience some discomfort after a while with these, which is a good thing! That discomfort says, STOP, rest, workout again later. Shoes block that signal. So temporary discomfort in the foot/ankle saves your other joints by telling you to quit. Overtime, your body adapts and you can go longer barefoot. We call this self limiting exercise. Now, hiking on your trip with barefoot shoes is a personal decision, I am just advocating training barefoot more often.
  2.  Do not forget about power and strength. If you think 5 day hike, you think endurance. You are right; however it doesn’t mean you should train like this all the time. Train for balance, core stability, strength and power (think jumping, kbell swings…). These things will help you in your endurance hike. Get some real hiking in, and that should serve as your endurance training. Save your body and get your body prepared for the beating of a long hike, don’t go on your hike tired, injured, and weak!
  3.  Be at an ideal weight. Many times, packs can be up to 30-50lbs, depending on hike duration and environment. If you are 20lb overweight, and lose it,  your pack weight is really 10-30lbs, not bad! Every step you take, forces go through the body of 2-5x your body weight, so a 20lb weight loss can really save your joints, your breath, and all the other health benefits to go along with it! Cutting down sugars and adding in HIIT (high intensity interval training) can help you get started on weight loss. Try to go all out for 30s, and rest, 30s all out, rest. Pretend a bear is chasing you (you never know, although running from a bear may not be the best advice, you get the point!) Decrease your rest period as you get better. This advice, along with quality resistance training, is the weight loss basics!
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Conquering your Sprained Ankle


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Conquering your Sprained Ankle

Ankle sprains are one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries seen in men and women, young and old.  The most common type of sprain being the inversion sprain, most commonly referred to as a “rolled ankle.”  You can imagine if your foot was to turn inward so that the outside of your ankle turns to the ground and the bottom of your foot turns upward in the direction of your opposite leg, this is what is called inversion of your ankle, and hence an inversion ankle sprain.  The opposite, an eversion ankle sprain would be the exact opposite direction and is much less common.  Since this is such a common injury and occurs more during the summer secondary to increased physical activity, I thought I would offer some tips of self-treating this injury and preventing more from following.

IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING INJURY:

 RICE

R = Rest

I = Ice

C = Compression

E = Elevation

 

The day of the injury and the next 2-3 days to follow, RICE is extremely important.  These steps will help control swelling and reduce the pain.  Without this your ankle may become the size of a balloon and it would take much longer to begin rehabilitation.   Ice should stay on no more may 20 minutes at a time, absolutely no heat is to be used. The most effective position to elevate your ankle it to lie on your back with your ankle propped up so it is higher than the level of your heart.  You may also want to consider taking an NSAID such as Advil or Motrin at the recommended dose.  These OTC medications are useful for decreasing inflammation and pain.

AMBULATION

You can start walking on your ankle as soon as the pain allows it however limit the time you spend on your feet to only when it is necessary.  If the pain ever goes from bad to worse, stop immediately and rest.  If you have any way to reduce the weight you are bearing through your ankle as well this would be a smart option.

BRACE

Some people may criticize the use of a brace however I find it is very helpful in this situation to reduce the pain in your ankle, provide additional support, and help prevent a future injury.  A sprain is an injury where your ligaments have been stretched and damaged and therefore they are not holding your bones together as tightly as they should.  Therefore your ankle may feel very unstable (because it is) and a brace in the early stages of the injury will be very helpful in not only providing that support that you are currently missing but prevent you from injuring it again.  You can buy one for very cheap (8-10 bucks) at any drug store.  Just don’t go to crazy and get the one with the highest support that will immobilize your ankle.  The brace will only act as a small support to get you through the next few weeks.

STARTING 2-3 DAYS AFTER INJURY:

Around this time is when you should start having decreased pain and inflammation and you should find it is getting easier to walk. Again, still don’t push the walking and reduce the amount of weight you are putting through your ankle. Now is when the real rehab begins!  You should start with what we physical therapists refer to as open chain range of motion therapeutic exercises.  That just pretty much means that these exercises are done in a non weight bearing position (you will be sitting, not standing).  Here are a few to get you started.

  1. Ankle pumps:  Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.  Now slowly bring your foot towards your body, and then push your foot down towards the floor.  Just like your pressing an imaginary gas pedal.
  2. Ankle circles:  In the same position just circle your ankle all the way around.  Imagine your big toe is a pen and you are trying to draw a circle.
  3. Ankle alphabet:  Now keep imagining your big toe is a pen and draw out every letter of the alphabet.

Within a few days these should start getting easier for you.  Make sure if you got a brace you have this off during exercises.

STARTING 5-7 DAYS AFTER INJURY:

Now we start to strengthen your ankle.   As I said before, damaging a ligament will make your ankle very unstable and unfortunately a ligament cannot be exercised and strengthened the way a muscle can.  So muscle strength is crucial here because it will be your muscles picking up the slack and supporting your ankle until the ligament heals.  These exercises are a good place to start with strengthening a sprained ankle.  They are done in sitting with your legs extended out in front of you just as the ones above were.

  1.  Theraband exercises:  If you have a theraband this is a great time to use it.  Position the band around the outside, top or bottom of your foot and move your ankle in the opposite direction against the resistance of the band.
  2. Wall pushes: Position yourself so the bottom of your foot is against a wall.  Now push into that wall with the bottom of your foot and hold that push for 5 seconds each rep.   Next sit next to the wall and push your foot out, into the wall, away from your body and also hold for 5 seconds each rep.

STARTING 2-3 WEEKS AFTER INJURY:

You should really be starting to see improvements now in your walking, and should be bearing almost your full weight onto your ankle.  If you have a brace you should start taking it off when you are in a safe environment such as your home.  Everyday try to leave it off longer and longer without sacrificing pain or increased inflammation if it is in fact still swelling.  If everything else has gone good up until now you can start weight bearing exercises.  No crazy single leg exercise just yet though, keep both feet on the ground and remember as always, stop if any pain comes on.  This phase is to get your ankle used to bearing its full weight in a safe position and build strength of major muscle groups without injury. Also start these with no weights and if possible to do so without pain, add only a small amount of weight at a time.  Here is a select few that will work well:

  1. Squat:  I know Marc Halpern must have some great videos of squats on his website!  Just do these slow and controlled and only bend as deep and your ankle will allow.
  2. Lunge:  Yeah I bet this site has videos of those too!  Same rules as squats, slow, controlled and pain free.
  3. Heel Raises:  Standing up tall simply raise both heels off the floor like you are standing on your tippy toes.
  4.  Planks:  Yes, I know planks are for your core but think about what your ankles are doing during this exercise.  They are in a great neutral and steady position, bearing weight, yet not the full amount and virtually every muscle is working to keep your steady.  These are a great exercise for stability of the whole body.

A MONTH AND ON:

Just as a reminder you should now only be wearing your brace in crowded areas where you feel there is a high probability your ankle may be reinjured.  Try to wear it as little as possible, or just remove it from the picture completely.

Now is time for the fun stuff!  The name of the game now is balance exercises!!!  When a person feels they are going to lose their balance the first thing that we use to compensate is called an ankle strategy.  This is when your ankles start to become wobbly and you struggle to stay upright.  If you don’t know what I mean go stand on just one foot for a minute and you should get what I am staying fairly quickly.  The reason I bring this up is because this is what you should feel during the following exercises.  This ankle strategy maneuver you use all the smaller muscles that are in your ankle that really matter the most when it comes to ankle stability.  There is a ton of ways to achieve this, here are a few I have found to be most beneficial:

  1. One legged catch:  Simply stand on the injured leg and play catch with someone.  If this seems to easy then stand on a pillow instead of the solid ground.
  2.  Pick-ups:  Stand up tall, bend forward at your waist with your good leg remaining in full hip extension and your injured leg remaining on the ground and pick a weight off of the floor.  This can be a difficult one to understand so feel free to look up videos.
  3. Got a TRX? One legged squats and lunges would be a great one to pick!
  4. Steamboats:  Put your good leg on a basketball or soccer ball and roll the ball up and down 30 times.  Now side to side 30 times.  Now clockwise 30 times.  Now counterclockwise 30 times.
  5.  Yoga poses:  Tree, eagle, warrior 3…

As you are perfecting this last phase you should just gradually start to forget you have an injured ankle and you can start living life normally again.  Just never forget what you went through because unfortunately although that ligament may heal it will never be exactly the same and you will from now on be at a much higher risk of reinjuring it.  Also, all ankles are not created equal.  If your body is not responding to this treatment please go see your physical therapist.  Ankle sprains are graded 1-3 and at a grade 3 you may need surgery as the ligament has been completely torn, this advice will not help you!  Above all else, listen to your body, it knows best what you need and don’t need.  As I stated many times before if anything is causing increase pain, or swelling, please stop immediately.  The phrase “no pain no gain” does not apply here.

Samantha Wirth, DPT

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