Can exercise cancel out a bad diet? Perhaps that’s the wrong question to ask.
Theoretically, you should try to eat a healthy diet either way. That means eating more fiber, less sugar and less saturated fat. In other words, you have to fight the food around you.
The so-called “western diet” consists of sugary foods and drinks, low fiber intake and high levels of saturated fat. Contrast that with an approach like that Mediterranean Diet, which is high in fiber, low in sugar and low in saturated fat.
These are the three things you need to watch out for if you want to lower your risk of heart disease (the #1 cause of death in the US and worldwide). However, the role of exercise in keeping you healthy might be severely undervalued.
This study was just published in the Journal of Physiology. Researchers gave mice workout equipment, like a wheel, and let them workout as much as they wanted. They fed one group of mice a western diet and one group a healthier diet.
As it turns out, mice that exercised regularly were able to protect their arteries from the damage caused by a western diet. That means what they ate didn’t have an effect on their heart health. That’s a big deal!
There are a few important things to keep in mind when reading this article. The study was performed in male mice, which means the results may not carry over exactly in humans (although we’re physiologically very similar to mice). The mice that exercised walked the equivalent of 3-5 miles per day (that’s a lot for a little creature). This is also just one study, and research needs to be repeated to be validated.
This isn’t an excuse to eat what you want, but it follows a current trend in research: exercise is medicine. If this research pans out in humans, it means that exercise is as powerful (if not moreso) than following a proper diet. For the record, you should focus on both to see the best results.
-Coach Henry Halse
Perhaps the most troubling thing about COVID-19 is its unpredictability. The severity of the illness ranges from nonexistent to fatal, with a myriad of levels in between. Symptoms are seemingly as unique to the individual as a fingerprint. Scientists are working overtime to understand the disease, but its confounding many experts.
The Hospital for Special Surgery declared in August 2020 that it created the first guidelines for returning to exercise after COVID (you can read it here). As one of the foremost sports medicine facilities in the world, they’re a credible and reliable source. However, it’s possible that these guidelines will change as we learn more about COVID.
For now, we’ll stick with what they published and summarize it here. We hope this is useful if you’ve had COVID or if you’re unlucky enough to catch it in the future. As such, it is always recommended to speak to your doctor if you have questions or concerns about returning to exercise.
Shortness of breath and coughing are two major symptoms of COVID. It’s a respiratory disease, but it’s also a cardiovascular disease. What’s more, there have been reports of tissue damage in the lungs and heart. There’s no doubt that COVID can affect your cardiovascular system, which can make it hard to exercise.
If you’re sick, wait until your symptoms go away before returning to exercise. Once they do, start at around 50% of what you used to do. While exercise can help you rehabilitate from damage caused by the disease, you need to start slow. It’s possible that you have elevated blood pressure or blood clotting that lingers. Pushing yourself too hard, in the beginning, could be dangerous.
Walking or light exercises are a great way to start, as well as light circuit training. Make sure you’re eating and drinking enough to give your body the resources it needs to recover. Sleep is also important. Think of it as rehabilitation from an injury, rather than bouncing back after a cold. Listen to your body and rest, rather than trying to jump back into your old routine.
-Coach Henry Halse
Seasonal depression is a real thing, especially in New York. Maybe that’s why you see so many people dressed in black and grey!
At this time of year, we’re close to the winter solstice, which is the shortest (darkest) day of the year. Normally we have a raucous holiday season to offset the doom and gloom, but this year will likely be different. Many of us will be isolated from family and friends or stuck with a small group of local people who could also be suffering from seasonal depression (fellow New Yorkers).
Some people get obnoxiously bright lights to cure SAD and sit in front of them for an hour or so each day. While that might work, we have a better solution: exercise!
Before you roll your eyes at another suggestion from us to hit the gym, consider this study published in 2017 in Frontiers in Pharmacology. The researchers found that exercise was just as good at curing depression as antidepressants. This might seem like a bold claim, but there are other studies out there that show similar results.
This isn’t a recommendation to quit taking medication or skip therapy, but remember that when you get SAD, exercise is just as good as medicine. Whether it’s a HIIT class, weight training workout or just a stroll around the park, anything will do!
Coach Henry Halse
One of the best things about working out virtually is that you don’t have to worry about being judged by others (well aside from your cat).
Noam recently put together an entire body workout routine for Men’s Journal that is based on a collection of our favorite but awkward movements that you can do right from your living room. Each exercise has a strategically matched superset exercise to maximize your results
Don’t take yourself seriously, just try this seriously effective workout.
Did you know that you can take your ab workout to the next level by incorporating weights?
Using weighted ab exercises helps to stress the core beyond what you can do with bodyweight, developing the strength to maximize performance.
TS Founder Noam Tamir put together a 20-minute ab workout for Bicycle.com that targets your obliques and deep core muscles.
When you’re feeling tense, on edge, and overwhelmed, a good stress-relieving workout can help!
We’re all a bit stressed this week so we thought we share this workout that only requires a kettlebell.
“Kettlebells are my go-to for a destressing workout. There is a big emphasis on breathwork for kettlebells,” said Noam Tamir, TS Founder. “In order to use them the most efficiently and effectively, you create a lot of tension in the body, and then release the tension through your breath.”
Proper eating habits can be the difference between seeing and feeling significant results or not. It can often be overlooked by some athletes as they pack their gym bags in the morning or race to a class after work. In some cases, if you don’t have time to eat or hydrate before working out, it can leave you fatigued, hurting your ability to maximize your exercise session. Working out during the summer months also creates its own challenges.
We are often asked by our clients about what to eat both before and after a workout. Quick disclaimer: we are not certified nutritionists --everyone’s body has a nutrition plan that works for them so reach out to your nutritionist if you have specific dietary restrictions.
We can suggest a few options that have worked for our staff at TS Fitness.
Regardless of the type of workout that you are about to embark on, it is critical to be fully hydrated. Noam suggests drinking at least 16 oz of water in the two hours leading up to your workout. If you are exercising in the morning, try to consume a glass of water right after you wake up. Working out dehydrated can leave you with low energy and at risk for muscle spasms. If you are exercising during the summer, make sure hydrate before, during, and after your workout.
Proper hydration should not be seen simply as an exercise prerequisite but as part of a healthy lifestyle. Noam suggests drinking water throughout the day with an end goal of consuming about ¾ of an ounce of water per every pound of body weight. You can actually eat your water, too: vegetables usually contain a fair amount of water and can offset your fluid intake.
If you hate drinking water, try putting fruits like lemon or herbs like mint in your water, which adds flavor without any substantial calories.
Remember that you are working out to build a better, stronger you so by taking your pre- and post-workout meals seriously, it makes hitting your fitness goals easier and quicker.
We recommend trying to get all your nutritional needs from whole, real, unprocessed foods, as opposed to store, bought bars or processed packaged shakes. We look for 3 things in a pre-workout snack:
Carbs (energy source)
Satiety (so you're not hungry again in 20 mins)
Digestibility (so that you're able to move easily and not have anything weighing you down)
The following foods can fit the bill:
One piece of fruit like an apple or banana, or a handful of berries
Sprouted grain toast with almond butter and/or banana
Homemade energy balls made with dried fruit, oats, nut butters, etc.
Don’t forget that timing is really important. Ideally, you should be eating 2-3 hours before your workout. Obviously, that is much simpler if you have a 6:30pm HIIT class booked rather than a morning session. If do find yourself with less time to eat (like 45 minutes before a workout), your snack should be smaller and simpler, containing mostly carbs. No 6am steak and potato breakfasts. (See our note on digestibility!)
A few of our trainers like to have a small cup of coffee (no sugar) before a workout. Caffeine may improve workout performance in some athletes. And as for sports drinks--skip them. While sports drinks may have some vitamins and electrolytes, their high sugar content is quickly absorbed and burned by your system. You may even experience a sugar crash afterwards.
It is vital that you eat after you exercise to replace the calories that you burned and replenish your body’s glycogen stores. It is best to eat within 30 minutes of completing your workout. If you finished a GPT session which is based on metabolic resistance training (MRT), Noam suggests consuming at least 30 grams of lean protein. If you skip a meal after working out, your body will miss out on the necessary repair process, which may leave you fatigued in the short term, and delay you from meeting your fitness goals.
Depending on the time of your workout, Noam recommends the following combinations of protein and carbs to replenish your system:
Egg white omelet with vegetables
Lean meat or fish
Rice and beans, if you avoid animal products
When you're working out in a small apartment in New York City, you and your muscles may feel a bit cramped so it is important to take time to stretch. You should also consider foam rolling before and after your virtual work out. Noam was recently featured in an article about top foam rollers on Livestrong.com and discusses the importance of rolling out.
"I have seen people improve mobility drastically and recover faster due to foam rolling," says Noam Tamir, a certified sports and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and owner and fitness coach at TS Fitness in New York City. "I would recommend doing it at least once per day. You can do it pre-workout, which I think is most important to minimize the chance of injury and prepare your body for exercise, or post-workout for recovery — or just for recovery in general."
One of the most widely consumed performance-enhancing drugs is sitting in your mug or thermos almost every day (hint: it’s not steroids). Caffeine is both mentally and physically stimulating. Not only does a cup of coffee clear your mental fog, it revs your body’s engine.
At one point, caffeine was banned in the Olympics. In 2004 it was allowed - and in quite high doses. You’d need to drink about 4 or 5 cups of coffee right before an event to be disqualified. The fact that it’s illegal at a certain point shows you that caffeine must have some performance benefit.
Indeed, most studies show that caffeine helps endurance performance. That means runners, cyclists and swimmers should have a cup of coffee or two before or during their training or competition.
On the other hand, caffeine isn’t as beneficial for strength training. It helps endurance training because it elevates your heart rate, increases blood flow, and spikes your adrenaline. All those things are necessary to perform well in an endurance event.
When you lift weights your muscles are doing work for a few seconds, then resting for much longer. It’s an entirely different type of training that doesn’t benefit much from an increase in heart rate or blood flow.
Besides the physical effects of caffeine, the mental boost can be equally as powerful for training. Caffeine dulls the sensation of fatigue and exertion that comes along with exercise, allowing you to perform at a higher level for longer.
Most studies on caffeine involve at least one cup of coffee, although two seems to be more standard. Researchers note that too much can hurt your stomach, cause nervousness/anxiety, and disrupt sleep.
The bottom line is that you can drink coffee before workouts. It may help you if you drink the right amount, but it can harm you if you drink too much. It also seems to be more helpful for endurance training than strength training.
Written by Henry Halse
Many of our clients are working from home on a regular basis for an extended period of time. Office ergonomics have improved over the years and employers recognize the importance of providing their workers with the proper chair and desk for long-term sedentary work. With the pandemic, you have found yourself working from a counter, a coffee table, or even your bed.
You should consider instead, a standing desk.
Coach Noam was recently featured in Self Magazine discussing the benefits of standing desks.
“A standing desk is also a good option as it will help you become more aware of your posture and engage your core muscles,” Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., founder of TS Fitness in New York City.
There’s an old saying that goes “no pain no gain.” It’s also the title of a hilarious movie featuring Marky Mark Wahlburg and The Rock, but we’re not going to talk about that today.
According to Google, the term “no pain no gain” was started by Jane Fonda in one of her workout videos. In the video, they’re probably doing a high-rep leg exercise that makes the muscles burn. Yes, those exercises are painful. They’re also not very dangerous.
Pushing yourself in a high-rep Barre or Pilates type of bodyweight movement is actually helpful if you’re doing that style of workout. Without adding extra weights you need to do a lot of reps to get results. Unfortunately, the type of training we do at TS doesn’t work well with Fonda’s catch phrase.
If you feel pain during an exercise, it’s usually a signal that you should change something. It could be your lower back, knees, hips or shoulders. Whenever you feel pain, you should address it. Often you can make a simple technique adjustment or do a modified exercise to work around the pain. Sometimes you have to scrap the exercise altogether and do something else.
Working through pain is only appropriate if you’re training with someone who knows that you’re safe. Otherwise, pushing through the pain can lead to injury. Remember that if you get hurt you’ll probably have to take time away from exercise, so it’s not worth ignoring the warning signs of pain just to get another rep or lift heavier weights.
If you’re committed to working out, you’re in it for the long haul. The body doesn’t change quickly, no matter how hard you push. When you think about workouts from a long-term perspective, you realize that you don’t need to work your hardest every workout. By taking care of your body and playing it carefully you can stay healthy and consistent.
The same principle applies to soreness. Most people see soreness as a sign of a good workout, which isn’t wrong. However, you shouldn’t chase soreness. Sometimes your body simply won’t be sore from a workout, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard. Soreness is more a sign that you’ve done an exercise you’re not used to than a function of hard work.
Written by Coach Henry Halse
While the weather is still pleasant and we’re forced to do as many activities as we can outdoors, it’s not a bad time to pick up running. It seems like an easy way to get your cardio workouts in, but training improperly can lead to stagnation or injury.
Common injuries from running are known as overtraining injuries. The shock from running (think about how many steps you take in even one mile) are a lot on your body. Your knees, shins, hips, back and feet are all susceptible to injury.
The first thing you need to do is buy proper footwear. If you’re going to run, you need running shoes! Regular workout shoes won’t cut it, they’re simply not built for running. The second thing you should do is download a running app like Strava on your phone so that you can track your mileage. Finally, you should find a comfortable place to run where you don’t have to stop too often.
Start with two runs per week. Run one mile each time. If it’s too hard to run one mile, you can alternate between walking and running.
Once you can run a mile continuously in under 10 minutes two days per week, you’re ready to progress to two miles. Once you can run two miles with an average pace under 10 minutes per mile, you’re ready to split between speed and distance days.
Dedicate one day per week to distance training. Every three weeks, increase your distance running day by one mile. Keep your other running day short at around two miles. Use this as a speed day to increase your mile time. Focus on running as fast as possible, and try to beat your time each week.
Keeping one speed day and one distance day will limit the amount of running you do in any given week while preparing you to run a greater distance over time. If done properly, you’ll get faster while avoiding injury!
Written by Coach Henry Halse
One of the difficulties of virtually working out at home in a small New York City apartment may be access to heavier weights and equipment. If you have been relying on bodyweight exercises, you may be looking for ways to increase the difficulty of your workouts without investing in expensive and often space-hogging weights. Coach Noam developed created a series of ankle weight exercises for Bicycling Magazine that are non-impact and can be excellent for rehabilitation if coming off an injury. These movements are unilateral so they also help you develop balance.
In the 1960s, a Czech Physical Therapist was working with Polio patients when he figured out the root of many postural problems. He identified two things that most people struggle with: forward head posture and pelvic tilt.
Forward head posture is easy to picture. Anterior pelvic tilt is a little more difficult. If you stick your butt out (your best Sports Illustrated swimsuit pose) you’ll be in anterior pelvic tilt. These two problems are perhaps the most common among all postural problems.
It’s hard to “correct posture”. You’re fighting against gravity, the way your skeleton is aligned and all of your daily tasks. Every time you tilt your head down to look at your phone or your computer screen you’re moving further into the territory of poor posture.
While exercises might not fix your problems, they can strengthen the little muscles that fight against bad posture. Here are some movements you can use during your warm-up, cool down, or any time of the day at home or in the gym (videos will be posted on our Instagram later this week):
The muscles in front of your neck help control forward head posture. To strengthen them, lie on your back with your feet planted. Lift your head by tucking your chin and looking down at your feet. Hold your head up for three seconds, then drop back down. Repeat 10 times.
This stretch opens up your chest muscles, which pull your shoulders and head forward. Lie on your back with your feet planted. Reach your arms overhead. Pull your elbows down until they’re at 90 degrees, then reach them back up. Repeat 10 times.
This exercise strengthens your abs and relaxes your lower back muscles. Lie on your back with your feet planted, and both hands under your lower back. Press your lower back into your hands, exhale through your mouth, and lift your head off the ground slightly. Then, relax and lie back down. Repeat 10 times.
Written by Coach Henry Halse
Coach Noam spoke to NY1 about the obstacles that the New York City fitness community is currently facing. We're proud to be a part of a community that has been overwhelmingly supportive of each other during this crisis.
As fitness studios begin to reopen in New York City, TS has dedicated time and resources in making sure our staff and clients are able to train safely as possible.
We've always believed that working out with a partner is a great way to increase your accountability. Partners force you to work out harder, longer, and even help you get out of bed. Now that we started offering online and virtual personal training sessions, your partner may be your roommate or your significant other! With online sessions, you can even find accountability partners from around the world, not just in New York City.
Coach Noam was featured in an article for DatingNews.com
Since TS Fitness has moved mostly online, many couples find themselves training at home together. One of the most significant benefits of that arrangement is that they don’t have to pay for two memberships, since the training takes the same amount of time for the TS Fitness staff.
Noam said he thinks that couples workouts also provide more accountability and connection. He also appreciates helping people work out together in their homes.
“A lot of clients have started bringing their significant others. That’s been an incredible part of virtual training. One person sees their partner working out, and they say, you know what, can I try it?” Noam told us.
The easiest way to increase the difficulty of an exercise is to increase the volume by adding more repetitions of a movement or more sets. It's possible to increase strength this way using just bodyweight movements, but that requires a moderate level of fitness to sustain the exercises with good form.To really feel the burn, add partial reps to a movement or slow it down, according to Noam Tamir, founder and CEO of TS Fitness.A 1 3/4 squat, for instance, involves lowering down into a squat, then rising 75% of the way to standing, then back to a low squat before standing up and repeating. Another technique, a tempo exercise, involves counting to five as you slowly lower down into a squat, push-up, or similar movement, holding at the bottom and moving up slowly."The muscle is under tension for longer so it's under stress," Tamir said.
Coach Noam was recently featured in an article at Self regarding the benefits of incorporating an ab roller into your quartine or virtual training routine. The ab roller which may look like a medieval torture device is a wheel with two handles on the sides that works your core to as you roll it forward and backward.
If a sculpted midsection is what you're after, the ab roller can potentially help you get there, considering it seriously works your "six-pack" ab muscles, aka the rectus abdominis. "[The rollout] is a very rectus abdominis-centric exercise and if done in different planes of motion, it can be functional," says Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., strength coach and founder of TS Fitness in New York City. Working in different planes of motion requires you to not only push the wheel right out in front of you, but out on different diagonals too.
The rollout exercise engages your entire body—not just the abs. "The positioning requires a lot of upper body strength and it does require a lot of trunk stability, so it works the lower back as well, and it engages the glutes," explains Tamir. "Improved trunk stability and strength leads to better posture and function." To gain those benefits, you still want to switch up the direction you're rolling, at least occasionally, he adds.
Full-body dumbell exercises allow you to maximize your workout time and sculpt lean and functional muscle.
"In real life, you use your full body to do things like carry groceries or lift furniture, so your training should reflect that," says Henry Halse, head trainer at TS Fitness in New York City. "Full-body exercises are your best bet if you're short on time," Halse says. "Try to prioritize full-body exercises first in your workout because they require the most energy, coordination and focus."
For the most bang for your buck, check out these three exercises that Coach Henry recommends in this article on Livestrong.
If you're looking for a trainer near you that can help give you a personalized approach to strength training, sign up for a virtual consultation.
When you're working out in a small apartment in New York City, you and your muscles may feel a bit cramped.
Before and after your virtual work out, you should probably take some time to roll out with a foam roller.
Foam rolling is an effective practice you can add to your warm-up or cool down routine that can help you feel even more loose and limber. When you work out, fascia—the connective tissue that surrounds your muscles—can stiffen, and over time, painful knots can form. Foam rolling, a form of self-myofascial release, breaks up those adhesions, in turn improving your range of motion and reducing muscle soreness. Think of it as a DIY deep-tissue massage.
Some people are in a rush and skip foam rolling. “It takes a little bit more effort and people just want to jump right into their workout,” says Noam Tamir, CSCS, owner of TS Fitness in New York City. “And after they’re done, they feel like they’re finished, and they just want to go.”
How do you pick a good foam roller?
Coach Noam Tamir put together a beginner ab workout that’s great for cyclists (or just about anyone) that is new to strength training for bicycling magazine.
This workout can be done anywhere, even in your small New York City apartment. "These exercises lend themselves well to beginners because the positions are not advanced, but they can still challenge a person as they build up strength,” Tamir says. “Each one is going to work your core differently—a strong core is essential in performance. Many of them are also full-body exercises.”
If you're looking for more direction, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up a consultation and get you virtual training with us in no time.
With virtual personal training becoming a huge trend due to the pandemic, setting up your home for a personalized workout is key for a great experience. Our coaches have become experts in providing virtual training from our studio and homes in New York City. We currently have 80+ clients doing sessions with us and over 150 sessions per week.
How To Setup Your Home For A Virtual Training Session
Making sure you have enough space so that your trainer can coach you in the best way possible. The camera should be set up at least 8 ft away and with 8 ft of width. This will allow your trainer to see you both vertically and horizontally when exercising.
How To Position Yourself During A Virtual Training Session
When doing standing movements, it is best to stand at a 45-degree angle to the camera so your trainer can see the width and depth of your exercises such as deadlifts and squats. When doing floor exercises, it is best to be turned 90 degrees to the camera for exercises such as planks and pushups
If space is sparse in your New York City apartment, you may want to quickly change the orientation of the camera to vertical when doing standing exercises and horizontal when doing floor exercises.
What's The Best Camera Angle?
The angle of the camera is also important. Having the camera close to the floor gives you the best use of your area. The camera should be angled between 30- 45 degrees but that can vary depending on how much space you have.
Getting a stand for your phone or laptop is very helpful as it allows you to adjust the angles as needed.
Know Your Learning Style
Are you a visual person or are you an audible learner? Do you need the coach to demonstrate exercises or are you someone who can follow verbal instructions on how to do an exercise properly? That is something important to communicate with your trainer.
Using these tips can help you get that most out of your virtual personal training workout. Succe
Giving yourself a daily target for your protein intake is helpful. However, it’s difficult to give one blanket protein recommendation to everyone. In this article we’ll give you a general guideline, then we’ll talk about things that cause your protein needs to change.
If you’re reading this article, chances are that you exercise regularly. This already changes your protein recommendations. The most common protein recommendation for the average adult is .8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight.
To find your protein needs, use this formula:
Bodyweight in lbs / 2.2 * .8 = grams of protein per day
So, if you’re 150 pounds, your recommended intake would be 55 grams per day. However, those numbers are based on sedentary people. The minute you start to exercise, your needs increase.
An August 2016 study published in Nutrition Bulletin found that active adults should consume between 1.2-2.0 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. If you weigh 150 lbs, that puts your range between 82 and 136 grams per day. As you can see, this is already a big increase from .8 grams per kilogram per day.
Active people put more demands on their body, particularly their muscles. The more your muscles work, the more they break down. Eating protein helps them recover and come back stronger.
To figure out where you fall in this spectrum between 1.2 and 2.0 grams per kilogram per day, consider a few factors. The first is experience level. People who are new to exercise (1 year of experience or less) actually need more protein than people with experience.
That’s probably due to the fact that a novice doesn’t have much muscle mass. When you first start a weight training routine, you gain muscle very quickly. The more your workout, the slower you gain muscle.
That means people who’ve lifted weights for 3 years or more actually need less protein, which puts them closer to 1.2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight.
Another factor is age. The older you get, the more protein you need. That’s because muscles waste away faster as you age. This process begins slowly at age 30 and gradually increases as you age. However, with a weight training program and adequate intake of protein, you can mostly prevent loss of muscle.
That means older people, in their 60’s and beyond, should be closer to the 2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day mark. Younger people don’t need to worry about it as much, and can afford to eat less.
Injuries, surgeries or illnesses increase your protein needs. That’s because the body is in repair mode and needs more resources. Eating more protein will not only help you recover, it’ll preserve muscle mass.
It might seem counterintuitive, but losing weight increases your protein requirements. When your body is in a caloric deficit, you’re more likely to lose muscle mass. If you want to lose fat but not muscle, you should eat more protein than normal, which means that you should be closer to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, rather than 1.2.
These are rough guidelines, but hopefully it gives you an idea of how much protein you eat. The average person most likely should increase their protein intake. If you’re losing weight, beginning a weight training routine, recovering from surgery or are older, you should focus on hitting your protein goal every day.
Are your kids going crazy in lockdown? We've been offering virtual training meant for just kids. If you cannot make one of our virtual sessions, check out this article that features Coach Noam.
"No school, no playing with friends and no traveling means not as much daily movement and decreased mental stimulation," Noam Tamir, a New York City-based personal trainer, told Insider.
Children ages 3 to 5 should be active throughout the day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kids who are 6 and older should aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily.
You have little things in your muscles called muscle spindle fiber. They tell your brain how long your muscle is. If your muscle stretches too far, your muscle spindle fiber tells the brain, and the brain tells the muscle to contract (tighten).
The goal of stretching is to convince the brain that it’s OK to go past where it feels comfortable. If this happens, you can stretch the muscle further before it tightens.
Theoretically, this is how stretching should work, but is that actually the case? Research shows that stretching works, for a few minutes. Let’s say you stretch before your workout. You do a few muscles like the hamstrings, quads and glutes. You hold each stretch for 30 seconds to a minute, following proper stretching protocols.
After your stretch, you stand up and feel limber and more flexible. Your stretches worked! Your muscles can now go further without tightening, your brain has been convinced to let them lengthen. Then, you walk around the gym, read your program, and start your first exercise.
Let’s say you do kettlebell swings. Your muscles start to work, they contract and relax rapidly to lift the weight. After a few minutes, your muscles are starting to tighten up again and the effects of the stretching have been reversed.
Stretching works for a little, but the results don’t last. If you were to stretch after your workout, all the flexibility you gain will likely be gone by the time you walk out the door. That’s because stretching works on the nervous system, but it doesn’t physically lengthen the muscle. It just convinces your brain to relax the muscle for a little bit.
This relaxation can’t last, because eventually you’ll need to move the muscle again. Research shows that if you want to make lasting changes from stretching, you’d have to do it multiple times per day, every day, for at least a month. That’s a lot of stretching!
Your brain keeps a map of the body. It knows where your joints are and how long each muscle is. It sets limits on how long each muscle should be, and tightens them when a muscle exceeds that limit. It’s almost like you’re changing a setting in the brain. However, your brain will go right back to its default setting once you get moving again.
Not all hope is lost. You can increase your range of motion, and you should, before you workout. That’s why we stretch before exercise. Increasing your range of motion before you workout helps you get into positions that might otherwise be uncomfortable or dangerous. A combination of foam rolling, stretching and active warm-ups to raise the temperature of your muscles works best.
There are many benefits of incorporating compound exercises into your routine.
It seems like a no-brainer that you should add these exercises to your program. Our fitness trainers have already done that for you with your workouts at TS Fitness. However, if you want to know why we do it or how to write a workout on your own, we should talk about exercise order.
There’s a specific system that we use to order the exercises, which helps reduce the risk of injury and increase the benefit of each movement.
Here’s a generalized breakdown:
1. Speed and power exercises
2. Bilateral strength exercises
3. Unilateral strength exercises
Speed and power comes first, since these exercises require the most coordination. Kettlebell swings, kettlebell cleans, and squat jumps are all examples of compound movements that use speed and power. Since the moves are so quick, there’s an increased risk for injury. For example, on a kettlebell swing, if you mess up the technique or your lower back gets tired, you can injure yourself. If we do this exercise last, you won’t be able to use heavy weight. Your muscles will be tired and your focus drained, making it hard to keep your form precise. That’s why speed and power exercises come first.
Next are the big strength exercises. These include deadlifts, squats and the dumbbell bench press. These movements use heavy weights, which means your muscles should be warmed up but not exhausted. While the heavy weight makes these exercises risky, they’re not as dangerous as speed and power exercises, because they require less coordination. The weights tend to move slowly on these exercises, giving you more control.
Now that you’ve done your speed and big strength exercises, you’re probably pretty tired. That’s why the next step in your workout is unilateral strength exercises. Lunges and split squats are examples of unilateral movements, which simply means that you’re using one limb at a time.
Since you’re lifting the weight with one limb instead of two, you naturally can’t use as much weight. While these exercises are challenging, they don’t use as much weight as the bigger strength exercises, making them safer.
If you decide you want to add isolation exercises, like curls, into your program, try to do them at the end. Isolation exercises target one muscle group and tire it out. Even though they may not feel as difficult as compound movements, they still fatigue the muscle you’re targeting.
Doing an isolation exercise before a compound movement can be dangerous, depending on the muscle you work. For example, if you do an exercise that targets your lower back, you shouldn’t do it before a compound movement like the deadlift. That’s because you need your lower back muscles to properly perform a deadlift. However, you could do bicep curls before a deadlift, because it doesn’t really work your biceps. If you’re not sure what muscles you’re using, a good rule of thumb is to just save your isolation exercises for the end of the workout.
For the past five years, H.I.I.T has become exceedingly popular, and this year ranks 3 on American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) list of 2019 trends. H.I.I.T stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. At first glance, HIIT can seem a bit intimidating so we put together a few tips for H.I.I.T newcomers.
H.I.I.T is a form of interval training that alternates periods of exercise with less-intense recovery periods. H.I.I.T is based on being able to push yourself to a high intensity followed by rest so that you can repeat that intensity again. Not only is interval training a great way to torch calories quickly, but it also helps you to continue burning more calories after the workout than a regular cardio workout. The variety of movements also keeps many people challenged and engaged.
When you’re trying a new type of class, we always recommend finding a studio with small classes to make sure you’re receiving the proper attention from the coaches. Small class sizes mean that you’re not getting lost in the crowd and the instructor has the ability to correct your form throughout the workout. Reach out to the studio to learn more about their class size. At TS, our group fitness classes have no more than 8 participants, which assures that you have the attention you need.
You can also ask additional questions regarding their warm-up, how long the session lasts, the general format, and the cool down.
This will not only help you mentally prepare but will also let your instructor know that you’re new and to keep an eye out for you during a session.
Most H.I.I.T classes incorporate standard bodyweight exercises or primary movements—such as squats, planks, rowing moves, and pushups. These exercises also serve as the base of more complex movements that you may encounter. If you are unfamiliar with these movements, we suggest scheduling some time with a personal trainer or show up to class a few minutes early to speak to the instructor who will gladly demonstrate these exercises.
We advise that when you’re just starting out with H.I.I.T to go at your own pace. Don't try to keep up with others, just focus on you. You can increase the intensity as you get more comfortable with the movements and the studio.
Ask yourself: 'What's the reason why I'm here? To increase my endurance? Because I have a lot of stress and I want to release it? Because I want to lose weight? Just to become a better you? Whatever your goal is, think about that and not how hard you’re working out.
We also recommend that you give your body some time to recover before hopping right back into another H.I.I.T class. When you’re just starting out, you should probably limit yourself to one or two sessions per week. Incorporate steady-state cardio like jogging on a treadmill or yoga to give your body a break as it recovers.
Proper eating habits can be the difference between seeing and feeling significant results. It can often be overlooked by some athletes as they pack their gym bags in the morning or race to a class after work. In some cases, if you don’t have time to eat or hydrate before working out, it can leave you fatigued, hurting your ability to maximize your exercise session.
It is critical to be fully hydrated before a workout. We suggest drinking at least 16 oz of water in the two hours leading up to your workout. If you are exercising in the morning, try to consume a glass of water right after you wake up. Working out dehydrated can leave you with low energy and at risk for muscle spasms.
As for what to eat before a workout, check out our previous blog post on fueling.
If you want to hear more about how we do things at TS or learn more about how we help people reach their fitness goals with our TS Fitness Train Strong Trial, book a FREE consultation.
Since when did it get so dark? We haven't even reset our clocks yet for Day Light Savings, yet the morning feels like midnight.
With the threat of the winter blues upon us, what can we can do to stay positive and motivated to work out even if we need a flashlight to get dressed in the morning?
Even though it feels like we may live on the dark side of the moon, the sun still shines during the day. Try to schedule some time to go for a walk in the afternoon to get some sunlight and Vitamin D. During the winter, we get less Vitamin D (naturally provided by the sun), which in turn can affect our mood.
Moving just a little bit will improve your mood and well-being. Exercise provides endorphins, the feel-good hormones. If you struggle to get moving in the dark mornings, try scheduling your Group Personal Training or Group Fitness classes during one of our 12:30pm slots.
It may almost be sweater weather, but that doesn't mean you should stick just to comfort foods that are high in carbs or calories. Try to maintain a balanced diet and avoid extra sugar and caffeine as they may cause you to crash later in the day.
Our motto is Together Stronger--if you are struggling to get yourself out of bed and make it to TS, find an accountability partner and workout buddy to schedule classes with. You will have the added pressure of letting your friend workout alone!
Speak to your TS coaches if you're having trouble feeling motivated. If you have concerns about your routine or just need a little push, we are here for you. If you want us to text you before your next session, we will!
You got this.
One of our favorite pieces of equipment in the gym is the speed ladder. It’s so simple but so effective.
We use the speed ladder not to just improve your dance moves or bring you back to your hopscotch days but to help you develop a variety of skills.
The speed ladder is an excellent way to:
Warm-up your entire body, ultimately helping you avoid injuries
Improve your coordination and agility
Improve your brain function
Provide a cardio workout
Ladder drills get your heart pumping and are a great form of cardio; we typically use them for a short period of time during a Group Fitness class or as part of the skills section of our Group Personal Training. These drills can be an integral part of a warm-up or even a High-Intensity Interval Workout. It all depends on your intensity.
When we say full-body workout, we don’t just mean your heart and muscles. Speed ladder drills connect your brain and your body, requiring you to focus and concentrate. Feel like you lack body awareness? The speed ladder can help you improve that! Studies even show that drills that work your coordination are good for brain health as you age. Maybe you should bring a speed ladder home to Grandma over the holidays!
Sometimes you only have 9 minutes to spare between running errands, sitting on conference calls, or getting dinner in of the oven. Coach Henry put this total-body workout that will suffice when you’re in a time crunch.
When you’re pressed for time, quick bodyweight workouts are useful. Any amount of exercise is far better than doing nothing. Bodyweight workouts also provide your body a much-needed break from weight training, which can beat up your joints and lead to overuse injuries.
This total-body workout is to be completed in a circuit-training fashion.
Each exercise should be performed for 30 seconds, with a 30-second rest. After you’ve completed each exercise once, take a one-minute break before repeating the circuit a second time.
After your second time around the circuit, you can stop or continue if you have more time and energy.
Before you hop into this workout, remember to warm up. Five minutes of walking, jogging or doing bodyweight exercises like jumping jacks can loosen your joints and improve your range of motion.
Stand tall with your hands behind your head. Step back with one foot and sink your back knee towards the ground. Then, step back up to standing. As you go down into the lunge, maintain tall posture with your shoulders over your hips. Switch legs on every repetition.
This exercise helps build up your hamstrings, glutes, and quads. It also challenges your ability to balance.
This move builds up core strength as well as upper body muscles like the chest, triceps, and shoulders.
Start in a push-up position with your hands under your shoulders. Lower one elbow down to the ground so that your forearm is flat on the ground. Then, do the same with the other arm. Now you’re in a forearm plank position. Plant the first hand that you lowered down on the ground and press back up so that your shoulders are turned. Finally, place the other hand on the ground and straighten both elbows so that you’re back in a push-up position.
Lie on your back and put your hands behind your head. Plant your feet flat on the ground so that your knees are bent. Sit up, keeping your hands behind your head and elbows back. Stop when you can’t go any further or your chest touches your knees. Then, lie back down slowly and repeat.
The first three exercises were geared more towards strengthening muscles. This is an all-out cardio burst for 30 seconds.
Raise one knee up so that it’s under your stomach. Then, jump and switch legs as fast as possible. Only one foot should be on the ground at a time. Keep pumping your legs one at a time as fast as you can.