Are you working all of your muscles?
Everyone has a favorite exercise or preference on what they like to do when they get to the gym. This is not the problem. The challenge is we tend to avoid the exercises that we don’t like (or one’s that are difficult or challenging). This behavior of avoiding certain muscle groups will ultimately undermine your fitness goals. If this goes on uncorrected, over time is can lead to:
- Inconsistent body strength
- Irregular body muscular development
- Vulnerability for potential injuries
One way to address this is to balance your workouts.
Let’s take squats for an example. A lot of folks dread “leg day” at the gym. They focus and tend to overwork that area so the next day is filled with pain and stiff muscles.
A different approach is to pull multiple muscle groups into a combination movement. I have blogged on the different equipment like Kettlebells, Club Bells, and Mace that we use here in Dallas Workout The Gym. Let’s look a Club Bells as a tool to create a flow that works the entire body: shoulders, chest, arms, core, and legs. The following video is an example of pulling four exercises into a set to work your entire body.
As you can see, squats are included in this flow. However, they are not the only focus. This is a great example of using equipment, technique, and combinations to overcome a fitness challenge.
This is an example of the type of tools we teach here at Dallas Workout The Gym. The more knowledge or tools you have to use, the better chance you will have in achieving your fitness goals. It’s still about getting to the gym and staying focused on your goals.
Remember, a missed workout is one that you can never make up!
Let me know how I can help you in achieving your goals.
So which one do I use?
Over the last few weeks, I’ve blogged on different equipment that you may not be familiar with: Kettlebells, Club Bells, Indian Clubs, and Mace. Each one of these tools has a unique value and can work your body in different ways. However, they also work very effectively together to help you achieve maximum results and provide a progressive path for increasing strength and flexibility.
As I’ve talked about before, shoulder joints are one of the most common areas prone to injuries in the gym. Working this area with different techniques and equipment will get you better results and keep your workouts fresh as well as challenging. For example, start working with the Indian Clubs on basic movements to get your shoulders warmed up and the blood flowing. I’d recommend about a 2-3 minute warm-up cycle. You may want to add a few sets of Kettlebell “slingshots” in as well. Once you have completed this, move on to the Club Bells doing similar exercises but increases the weight. You’ll begin to really feel the muscles work in the shoulders. Finally, finish off your shoulder routine with the Mace. This will really open up your shoulder joints and maximize your flexibility. For clarity, here is a short video that demonstrates these progressive movements:
So, when I’m asked what equipment is better to use, I would look at all of them and find a routine that works for you to maximize your results. However, the first step to work with each of the different equipment separately and get familiar with the basic moves and form. Think of it as a progressing of collecting different tools in your “toolbox” to use for your workouts. Once you’ve have a basic level of expertise, them begin to branch out and start incorporating different equipment in a progressive manner to target a specific area.
Remember, you have several resources available to you. I will be putting together group classes in the fall as well as you may want to consider a personal trainer session to get some 1-on-1 support on how to use each of these tools. Give me call or email if you have any questions.
Remember, a missed workout is one that you can never make up...
Why use a Personal Trainer? RESULTS
by Tim Caffee (Personal Trainer Client)
I will be first to admit that I didn’t get the best start on living a healthy life and working out. There was always something that took priority over working out. My education and having fun took precedence. Once I was out of college and on to my first job, I decided that working out was a good way to relieve the stress and pressures in my life. I joined a gym and basically gravitated to what I knew (machines).
It wasn’t long after working out that my ADD kicked in and I decided I needed to learn more about exercising than just isolation machines. I got my first trainer and learned all about working out with free weights. At the time, I didn’t realize that the trainer I hired was not the best. He basically taught me the way he worked out and babysat me to get through all the reps/sets. I had adequate results, but he wasn’t big on correct form; and in the process I overworked my shoulders and tore my interior rotator cuff in my left shoulder. Needless to say, this set me back and I had to hold off workouts so I could heal.
Over the years, I’ve joined different gyms in different locations around the country. I’ve also continued to work with different personal trainers. My overall fitness levels would oscillate depending on how much time I would spend in the gym.
After moving to Dallas, I decided to find a local gym and start working out again. Dallas Workout The Gym happened to be in the neighborhood and that's where my journey began. I decided to start with a personal trainer and began working with Bobby Hart. What was unique about Bobby’s approach was how he created a custom fitness program that worked with my schedule. Since I was traveling about 50% of the time for work, he incorporated several routines that I could do in my hotel room with only a 6’ x 4’ space. Additionally, he helped me work past my limitations from my shoulder injury and got me working with Kettlebells, Club Bells, Indian Clubs, Mace, and Free Weights. I have more workout “tools in my toolbox” than I’ve every had in my life.
Results are what motivates me today. I’m stronger in my 50s than I ever was in my 20s. I start each day with push-ups and get to the gym 3 to 4 times a week. My energy and productivity levels are consistently high. I can honestly say I’ve had a significant lifestyle change based on the tools I’ve learn and the guidance & support I received from Bobby. If you are not familiar with Dallas Workout The Gym, I highly recommend that you check it out and take the time to talk to Bobby about what you want to achieve. Results are what I was looking for and I found it.
While Mace equipment and workout routines may be something you haven’t heard of, they are nothing new. In fact, the Mace dates back to Upper Paleolithic (or Late Stone Age) period. It was primarily used as a weapon. It began to show up as exercise equipment in the 8th century for training warriors in Indian akharas (i.e. combat training gymnasiums).
The Mace (or Gada) is essentially a weight on the end of a shaft. The longer the shaft, the more resistance you’ll encounter. The basic movement (an around the head swing with a push-pull movement) will train the entire upper body. If the weight is too heavy, chocking up on the shaft will reduce the weight dynamics. Conversely, holding the Mace at the bottom will be more difficult to manage and require more upper body strength.
The three key benefits I’ve seen working with this equipment are:
A weak grip will show up on any pulling movement. For example, your pull-up reps will be limited if you have a weak grip. Circular strength improvement will tighten up your core and give you better stability. Additionally, increasing strength in the hands and lower arms will have a major impact on increasing your upper body endurance, allowing you to reach new heights. As I’ve blogged before about the topic of Injury Corrective Strategy (ICS), Mace workouts are excellent for strengthen muscles and connective tissues to help prevent injuries.
The Mace design forces you to use gravity while also working against it due to its lack of counterbalance. The disproportionate weight dramatically increases the difficulty of the movement stressing all the muscles in the hands and forearms. The Mace not only increases your grip strength, but also works your shoulders, arms, and core.
Here is an example of basic exercise movements that I start my clients with:
Having an array of exercises in your “toolbox” will ultimately help you achieve your fitness goals. At Dallas Workout The Gym, we offer personal trainers and a group workshop (Club Bells & Mace Workshop) to learn the basics and incorporate Mace exercises into your workouts.
I encourage you to explore the Mace and find your inner warrior.
Last week I talked about the benefits of working with Indian Clubs. I wanted to also introduce Club Bells (or Clubbells™ which is a registered trademark of American Academy for Russian Martial Art And Combat Skill, Inc.). Their design is a combination of “modern engineering with ancient principles of strength training”*. There primary purpose is for strength training. What makes them unique is the multi-dimensional effects on your muscles and joints. Basically, the body is a complex organism and lives in a 3-D world. Your workouts should reflect this. You will get more benefit from complex movements instead of isolation exercises. The design of the Club Bell maximizes the challenge of using your whole body to control the movements. Another benefit to consider, dumbbells compress your joints white Club Bells opens up your joints. As I mentioned before, shoulder injuries are the most common injury and Club Bells are also an excellent preventative tool to improve your joint mobility and strength.
Here is a short video of some of the basic movements that I start my clients with using Club Bells.
One of the common questions I get asked is what is the better equipment to use for my workouts: Kettlebells, Indian Clubs, or Club Bells? Well, the short answer is you need to work with all of them. They can work together in harmony, which is why I have included them in my gym and fitness training. I will talk about incorporating all of these very different types of equipment in a future blog.
For now, let’s start with the basics and I encourage you to learn how to use Club Bells properly in your workouts. I offer both a group workshop (Club Bells and Mace Workshop) as well as private 1-on-1 training. Give me a call and let’s work out a program that is right for you.
*Phrase used in an article by Physical Living Health-First Fitness, “The Complete Clubbell Review”, May 2016
One of my focused areas in fitness is Injury Corrective Strategy (ICS). I’ll discuss this in more detail in a future blog. Indian Clubs gained my attention due to their ability to help with shoulder injury recovery. Indian Clubs are light weights (generally 1-3 lbs) made of wood. They work the shoulder joints by doing exercise that uses centrifugal force to open up the joint and help build up the small muscles that help stabilize the joint. They are excellent tools that help with shoulder injury recovery.
Shoulder injuries are one of the most common problems I see with my clients. It is the product of bad form, pushing oneself beyond your limits, or in some cases, just bad judgment that result in an injury.
Injuries are counter-productive to achieving your fitness goals. They can keep you away from the gym while recovering as well as continue to limit your capabilities if not allowed to heal properly. For pro-active protection, preventive exercises are critical to sustain your fitness goals throughout your life.
Indian Clubs not only help with shoulder recovery, but can also help open up the shoulders to give you a wider range of motion.
Here are some of the key benefits for working with Indian Clubs:
For example, one of the exercises that I start my clients is called “the windmill”. Here is a short video of some of the basic moves.
These are some of the basic exercises that are great at the beginning of your workout to open up the shoulders and get blood flowing into the joint.
Give me a call or email is you want more information about private training or join one of our Indian Clubs Workshops.
Are you ready for Kettlebells?
I was one of the first gyms in Dallas that began using Kettlebells with my clients. Kettlebell is a cast-iron or cast steel weight (resembling a cannonball with a handle) used to perform ballistic exercise that combine cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training.* It can produce some of the most amazing results when used correctly in your workouts.
As I’m seeing more gyms beginning to incorporate Kettlebells as part of their equipment, I’m concerned that when used incorrectly or with bad form will have a negative impact on you achieving your fitness goals. Along with the adoption of Kettlebells, you can find more books, videos, and other training materials available. However, what I have found is working with Kettlebells is a process. There are some fundamental movements and techniques required for each type of exercise. However, you really get proficient and learn best from doing. Best scenario is having a knowledgeable expert looking at your form and giving you continual guidance on making improvements.
The Kettlebell uses the entire body to create momentum. Think of your body as a gear. The correct form will maximize the body’s ability to make an effective gear and move the weight with the minimal amount of energy. New users of Kettlebells generally move the weight only a few minutes/reps and will need some recovery time. Once you have your form down to an acceptable level, you will be able to move the weight for much longer periods of time. Depending on your workout strategy, you can work with heavy weights to maximize strength gains or lighter weights to focus on cardiovascular and flexibility. Either way, form is critical and you will feel a huge difference once you have good form under control.
I will be offereing Kettlebells 101 Workshops in the fall. If this is something you are interested in learning more about, I encourage you to sign up as I will limit the number of people to maximize benefit to the participants. If you would prefer, we have several private trainers to choose from that will help you get started.
Are you ready for the amazing results achieved using Kettlebells?
* Definition of Kettlebell courtesy of Wikipedia
Everyone faces challenges on maintaining a workout regime. Life can get in the way: family, kids, work, vacation, flu, summer heat (I’m sure you can come up with a few). When approaching your workout schedule, it’s important to commit for the long term. Being fit and health is takes commitment. Remember, muscles are broken down in the gym, feed in the kitchen, and built while you sleep.
When you’re having a tough day on making everything work, it’s good to go back to the basics. The first rule of working out is to show up! Whether it’s at the gym or doing pushups at home, it’s important to make exercise a central component in your life. What has worked for me is to take time every day for some level of working out. Whether it is cardio, walking, weight training, or somewhere in between, making some level of fitness as part of each day will help you in the long term maintain your commitment to health and vitality. While it’s important to allow your muscles recover time between heavy workouts, getting your body to move and blood flowing every day will add years to your life.
At DWTG, we focus on making the most efficient use of your time when you come to the gym for a workout. We have a wide variety of equipment to choose from as well as trainers to help you increase your knowledge of different exercises when determining how to best use your time at the gym. Feel free to stop by and let’s work out a plan that works for you. OK, let’s get ready to break a sweat…
ADD in the Gym, No Problem...
Coming to the gym three or four times a week and doing the same routine can become boring and ultimately, not achieve your fitness goals. The solution is to have enough tools in your "toolbox" to constantly make each visit to the gym new and exciting experience. Most people will naturally gravitate to what they like to do like bench presses or squats. Over time, this can result in a body that is unbalanced and could ultimately lead to injuries.
My approach to fitness is to always keep it fresh and know several types of exercises. Not only do you get the benefit of working out, but your body adapts very quickly so over time changing your workout habits will have great benefits.
For example, let's say you want to target your back muscles. Let's look at several possible workout options: Pull-ups, Renegaded Rows w/ Kettlebells, Lat pull-down, Mace Clubs, etc.
There have been many studies on the topic of mixing up your workout routines. However, what is most important is that you choose a routine that gives you energy and excitement. Never forget that working out can be fun and your results is what is going to keep you coming back to the gym.
If you need some support for expanding your data base of different exercises, let one of our trainers take you on a new journey of working your muscles in a whole new way.