Everyone builds muscle at different rates. It depends a lot on your genes, somewhat on your age, and a little on how hard you train. Give two people the same exact program with the same exact weights and they can gain muscle at completely different rates.
Some people are deemed “non-responders,” meaning they can go through a strength training program and see no progress. This is a small group of people, but they exist. Others make incredible strides in short periods of time.
A study published this month in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that people who gain muscle quickly also lose it quickly. In the study, researchers found that people who gained muscle quickly lost much of their progress when they took 6 weeks off of strength training.
That means maintaining muscle can be frustrating for those to whom results come quickly. It means consistency is even more important than it is for someone who takes a while to progress. It also means that slow-growers can calm their jealousy, because they might have a hidden advantage of hanging onto the muscle they gain.
This can also explain large fluctuations in weight that some people experience when they start and stop strength training. Typically, changes in the scale are attributed to body fat, but that could actually make up very little of the fluctuations some people experience. If you find that your weight and muscle mass is fluctuating, remember that consistency is perhaps more important than any other factor in training.
What’s the point of the kettlebell swing? It’s a legitimate question that many clients ask.
Of course, the answer isn’t short and the move itself isn’t easy to learn, either. But in the end, it’s well worth it.
To do a swing, you start with the kettlebell on the ground. With both hands on the handle, hike the weight between your legs, then snap up to attention and swing the bell forwards. From there, you stay in a back and forth swinging motion until the set is it over and you put it down.
Let’s quickly think about the muscles involved. Your hips (glutes) are perhaps the most important contributor to the movement. When you swing the kettlebell forwards the glutes contract and push the hips forward, creating enough force to swing the weight.
The hamstrings, a companion muscle to the glutes, also contribute to that motion. Your lower back muscles keep the back from rounding as you swing back and forth. While the big muscles of the legs and back move the weight, your forearms work hard to keep the kettlebell from flying away. Don’t be surprised if your hands and forearms hurt after a set of swings.
When you do the kettlebell swing, you probably won’t feel any particular muscle burning. That doesn’t mean there’s no benefit, it means that you’re doing a total-body movement and the strain is distributed throughout your body.
As you perfect your technique with the kettlebell you can go up in weight to make the movement harder. You can also focus on speed and try to get more reps with the same weight during each round. There are multiple ways to make the movement harder.
When you increase the difficulty of the weight your muscles, lungs, and heart work harder. Kettlebell swings require muscle strength, speed, and endurance. As you make the exercise more difficult, you’ll start to feel more of a burn and feel breathless.
If you’re just starting with swings, be patient. First, you have to learn proper techniques so that you don’t injure yourself. Since it’s a fast movement, there’s a chance you can tweak something if you’re not doing it correctly. However, as you get better and increase the difficulty, you’ll feel the exercise more and the benefits will come.
Have you ever had a long day at work, filled with problem-solving and meetings, then felt so tired that you can’t work out? Zoom fatigue is a prime example of the kind of mental strain that the modern workplace causes.
Typically, the answer for fatigue from work is physical fatigue (exercise). Sitting all day is bad for your body and mind, but a long day of work can leave you feeling exhausted.
Mental fatigue isn’t like physical fatigue in that your brain gets sore when you work too much, but something called cognitive fatigue impacts your workouts.
A 2020 study published in Sports Medicine found that cognitive fatigue was detrimental to physical performance. The researchers synthesized 73 studies that looked at cognitive fatigue and exercise performance. In the studies, participants in the experimental group went through mentally demanding tests before their workout.
Overall, the studies showed that fatiguing your mind before a workout hurts performance. This was true for a variety of different types of exercise, including resistance training and aerobic workouts.
This research shows that a draining day at the office can absolutely hurt your workout. If you find that it’s a battle to drag yourself to the gym after work, you might want to try coming in the morning.
The irony is that exercise is typically used to alleviate the stress from work and constant focus. It’s possible that during periods of mental stress at work you should take it a little easier at the gym, rather than fighting that tired feeling.
With Memorial Day coming up and summer being right around the corner, you may finally have vacation plans!
How do you find time to exercise while traveling?
First, appreciate that you're taking time to relax and it is okay to skip the gym for a few days, especially if you're staying active in other ways. While you’re on vacation, you have the luxury of changing things up--you don’t necessarily have to stick to your normal gym routine to get your exercise in. Plan some fun physical activities like hiking, surfing, or skiing so you get to experience something adventurous while working out.
“I try to plan my workouts for the morning since that is the most predictable part of the day. Usually, you are a bit drained in the evening while you are vacationing so you’re likely to have the most energy in the morning” says TS Founder, Noam Tamir.
Over the past few years, hotels have started paying more attention to their gyms and their on-site fitness programs. Some hotel properties now offer gym clothes for rental while others install treadmills or exercise bikes right into your suite. If your hotel does have a gym, Noam recommends some sort of circuit training that incorporates full-body exercises, allowing you to maximize your workout in a short period of time so you can get back to relaxing.
Traveling to new places allows you to experiment with local studio classes, too. Depending on where you vacation, you can ask your hotel concierge for recommendations. You never know what you can learn!
When Noam doesn’t have access to a gym, he turns his hotel room into a small fitness studio. “I pack a fitness band or a TRX. I’ve been known to set up a TRX on the room’s door jam so I can do pull-focused exercises.” Even if you don’t smuggle equipment into your carry-on, you can rely on bodyweight exercises for a great workout.
To make the most of your workout time, Noam recommends creating a quick AMRAP (as many reps as possible routine). Start with a few warm-up exercises and run through the AMRAP for at least 15-20 minutes. “An AMRAP workout is great because you are putting in a lot of work in a short period of time. You take rest only when you really need it and you become a little competitive with yourself during the workout, comparing the number of rounds you were able to complete with previous times you’ve done it.” His go-to workout below "is intended to hit the whole body, work multiple planes of movement, keep the body balanced, and improve endurance and strength,” he said.
Noam created a video of his favorite 20 minute body-weight workout on-the-go.
3 Circuits: Repeat each circuit 3x with 10 seconds of rest between each exercise
“What’s the point of this exercise?” is something that might’ve crossed your mind at one point or another during a workout. That’s normal since many exercises feel unnatural or even uncomfortable.
Perhaps the least comfortable is the single-leg deadlift. For this exercise, you stand with a kettlebell or dumbbell in one or both hands and lift one leg straight back while leaning forward with your torso.
You’ll quickly learn that the single-leg deadlift requires balance. Standing on one leg and moving with control is challenging enough. Adding weight takes the exercise to a whole ‘nother level. As you fight to focus and maintain balance, it’s easy to forget that you’re actually strengthening something.
The name partially describes the exercise - single-leg deadlift. It may not look like a deadlift, but there are key similarities. The first is that your knee doesn’t bend very much, most of the action comes from the hip joint. Regular deadlifts emphasize the hips over the knees.
When you use your hips to lift the weight, the muscles used are primarily the hamstrings and glutes. In the single-leg deadlift, the hamstring does most of the work. Your hamstrings come out of the sit bones in your butt and go all the way down to your knees. That’s a long muscle!
It can be hard to feel the hamstrings working. Most people don’t feel a burning sensation like they do in other exercises. Instead, you might feel a stretch. However, if you wake up and your hamstrings are sore for some reason, it’s probably from single-leg deadlifts!
Keep in mind that it’s a tough exercise. Give yourself time to learn the movement and slowly increase the weight you use. As your balance and coordination improve, you’ll be able to use more weight and feel the exercise.
Headache? Advil. Back pain? Advil. Sore muscles? Advil. Ibuprofen, the active ingredient in Advil, acts as an anti-inflammatory in the body and helps relieve pain.
Some people say that you shouldn’t take ibuprofen for pain if you’re trying to maximize your workout. Instead, they prefer to tough out the pain. Joint and lower back pain are common reasons for taking ibuprofen after exercise, but if ibuprofen negates your workout, should you simply tough out the pain?
First thing’s first, make sure ibuprofen works with your body. Ask your doctor before taking medications for pain. Even though Advil is relatively benign, it could cause complications. For dosage, you can either ask your doctor or follow the instructions on the bottle.
With that being said, what do scientists say about taking ibuprofen after exercise? A 2008 article published in Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism confirms that high doses of ibuprofen taken after workouts can prevent you from building muscle.
The researchers wanted to see if low to moderate doses had the same effect. They had subjects take 400mg (roughly a standard dose) after workouts. The researchers found that ibuprofen didn’t block the muscle-building effects of the workout.
Interestingly, they found that it didn’t help reduce soreness either. That means you’re probably safe to take ibuprofen after a workout in small doses from an exercise perspective. However, don’t take it if your muscles are sore! Chances are, it won’t help much.
At TS Fitness, we’re celebrating the hard work and dedication of our TS Community mothers. Over the years, we’ve had numerous pre-and post-natal clients train with us. Studies show that exercise may prevent gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy), build the stamina needed for labor and delivery, and relieve stress. Both expecting and new mothers have a wide variety of challenges and things to consider when continuing their exercise routine.
Women should incorporate some kind of movement/ exercise during pregnancy unless they’ve been advised by their doctor not to do so. If you are not an exerciser, it is wise to start something that is mild. But pregnancy is not the time to decide you want to get into professional weight lifting so you should stick to routines you know.
If you are already active, you should consider sticking to similar types of exercises but scale them back as needed over the course of your pregnancy. Exercising is a great way to avoid gestational diabetes and prepares you to regain your level of fitness post birth. We recommend limiting workouts to about 3 to 4 times a week for about 30-60 minutes, depending, of course, on how your body feels. It is vital to listen to your body and as a frequent gym-goer you should be familiar with what feels good for you or what is pushing you past your limit.
We also suggest that pregnant women be cognizant of a few specific changes in their bodies. As you’re training, you need to be aware that your core body temperature can fluctuate, which can lead to overheating. Pregnant women may also experience an elevated heart rate, which may reduce their output during high-intensity exercise. We always recommend speaking to your trainer about modifying your workout HIIT classes with that in mind.
Additionally, as your pregnancy progresses, your joints and ligaments become more pliable and elastic as your body prepares to give birth. Though you may be more mobile, you are at a greater risk of injury if you do not maintain your muscle strength. It is important to incorporate exercises that improve your core and supporting muscles. We recommend squats with lighter loads to help develop the pelvic floor, lower back, and hip muscles which will be relied upon during labor.
Upper body training is often neglected in expecting mothers. You need to build upper body strength to deal with the impending need to physically carry a child. A few of our favorite upper body (partial core) exercises are farmer’s and rack carries to build stamina. These carries will help when you eventually hold your baby. Rows and pull-ups are great exercises to counteract the postural downside of having to carry a baby in your arms, too!
It is also important to understand your limitations and abstain from movements that can hurt your baby and yourself. During your second and third trimester, make sure you avoid movements that put you on your back as your growing uterus has the potential to put pressure on the main vein circulating blood back from the lower body. But there are easy modifications to keep you training-- for example, try doing an inclined bench pressure versus a traditional bench press movement. We also recommend avoiding rotational movements like Russian twists and bouncing exercises like jumping jacks.
After birth, don’t expect to rebound right back into your old routines. You should treat your body as if it had recently gone through a major injury. Fortunately though, if you were staying active during your pregnancy, you should have an easier time getting back into the swing of things. If you have a cesarean section, be patient and don’t get frustrated as your recovery may take longer than if you had a natural birth. A pregnant mother will experience separation in the abdominal wall so we suggest practicing diaphragmatic breathing and exercises like the dead bug after birth to help repair the deep muscles of the abs.
Have you ever noticed that some people work out half as much as you do, but seem to grow muscles twice as fast? Or, have you tried to pick up running or cycling just to find that you were so slow that time seemed to be moving backward?
Everyone is good at something, but most people are average. At least, in terms of muscles, they are. On the outside muscles look similar. Some are bigger, some are smaller and wirier. If you could look inside, you’d see even more differences.
The fibers of your muscles come in three different types. The first is called type 1, or slow-oxidative. That’s the endurance running type of muscle because it moves slow but can keep chugging away forever.
The second type is called 2x, or fast oxidative. This is the hybrid of muscle fibers. It’s kind of fast, kind of slow, and can transform to whatever type of activity you’re doing.
The third type is the sports car of muscle fibers, type 2b or fast glycolytic. This muscle fiber is like a lion that sleeps all day then does one big burst of activity. It’s the pure weightlifting type of muscle, and just so happens to be the biggest as well.
Most people have a little of both the super slow and super-fast muscle types and a bunch of the hybrid. That means they can train to be pretty good at anything. However, some people have disproportionately more of the extreme slow or fast fibers. With a lot of the slow fibers, they might have small muscles but they can run a marathon without a problem. With a lot of fast fibers, you can build muscle easily and lift the heaviest weights at the gym, but can’t run a mile.
As you try different types of workouts, pay attention to how your body reacts compared to others. What do you excel in, and what do you hate? Or, are you the jack of all trades and master of none? Regardless, you are what you are. Play to your strengths.
Are you a morning person or a night owl? The time of the day that you choose to you exercise depends on your schedule and your energy levels. Some people burst out of bed in the morning and head to the gym. Others fumble in the dark until they chug enough coffee to open their eyes.
So, when is actually the best time to work out?
That depends partially on your circadian rhythm. Throughout the day your hormones fluctuate. Sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen), cortisol, and melatonin are some of the most well-known. When you wake up your cortisol levels are high, when you go to bed your melatonin levels are high. Your body uses hormones to make you sleepy or energized.
A study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that early evening was the best time to work out, based on hormone levels. That’s when researchers saw the best performance overall. However, they note that it’s completely different for each person.
Your circadian rhythm changes based on what you do throughout the day. Our bodies like to have a schedule. If you consistently work out in the morning, your body will get used to it. If you work out in the evening, that’s when you’ll have more workout energy.
Changing your workout schedule too much can throw off your circadian rhythm, so it’s best to stick to one general timeframe. If you’re a morning person, researchers recommend warming up more, because the body is still stiff and not used to moving from your night of sleep.
Evening warriors can cause disturbances in their sleep if they do an intense workout within an hour of going to bed. For that reason, make sure you include some buffer time between your workout and when you want to fall asleep. With that being said, working out in the evening can actually help you sleep, as long as it’s over an hour before bed.
If you have to switch your schedule around, or if you want to experiment, give your new schedule some time. Your body takes a few days or weeks to adjust to a new schedule (think about jetlag). However, feel free to experiment, you might discover that you’re more of a morning person or night owl than you thought!
Few supplements work, most don’t, and some are downright confusing. None will leave your head in a tailspin more than Vitamin D. It’s a hormone/vitamin that you can get from food, pills, and the sun. It boosts your immune system, helps build strong bones, and fights depression (all good things, right?) but you shouldn’t have too much of it.
Confused yet? We are. Thankfully, the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements has a big, long article on Vitamin D that you can read here. In lieu of taking half your day to read the research, here are some of the most important points summarized:
What is Vitamin D?
Also known as Calciferol, it’s a fat-soluble vitamin (which means it gets stored in fat cells). It’s produced when UV light hits your skin. You can also eat it in food. Here are some of the highest sources of vitamin D:
How Much Do You Need?
Adults 19-50 need 600 IU per day. That can come from a combination of sun exposure, diet, and supplements. Most people reach their requirements through sunlight. 5-30 minutes per day is sufficient for most people, but depends on factors like sunscreen (blocks UV rays), skin melanin content (melanin blocks UV rays), pollution (blocks UV rays), and cloud cover (also blocks UV). Windows also block UV light.
Tanning beds are also effective at synthesizing vitamin D, but any form of sun exposure is dangerous for your skin. Therefore there’s a trade-off between having too much sun exposure and not enough.
Vegetarians and vegans may need more because the type of vitamin D found in plants is less usable for the body than that found in animals. In that case, supplementation might be helpful. Your doctor can tell you if your vitamin D is low using a blood test, and recommend solutions.
There are a couple of other causes of low vitamin D. The first is the kidneys taking too much out of the bloodstream. The other is the intestines not taking enough out of your food.
There are a few types of vitamin D. The first is D2, which isn’t very effective in pill form. D3 is much more effective. Another, called 25(OH)D3 is the most effective, but not yet available in the US. It’s hard to say how much to take, but the experts caution against taking too much. Once again, your doctor can help you decide how much to take. Vitamin D isn’t flushed out of your system quickly like vitamin C, it’s possible to have too much.
Supplementing can help somewhat with things like depression, weak immune system, and weak bones (when taken with calcium). Research is still relatively inconclusive on how effective supplements are, but there are some signs of benefit.
-Coach Henry Halse
There’s been a lot of buzz about BMI recently, due to the underlying conditions exceptions for Covid-19 vaccines. BMI stands for body mass index, which is a measurement that scientists use to determine how heavy you are relative to your height.
The controversy is over the accuracy of this measurement. Namely, are scientists able to determine whether or not someone is obese, and therefore qualified to get the vaccine, using this measurement?
First, let’s go over how to calculate BMI. You can use this link to calculate, or use this formula:
703 * (weight in lbs) / (height in inches)^2 = BMI
So, if someone is 5’5 and 150 pounds, they have a BMI of 25. Here are the categories:
So, a BMI of 25 is technically “overweight.” There’s been an outcry over the inaccuracy of using this system, and for good reason. It doesn’t take into account what you’re made of. If you have tons of muscle and very little body fat, you could be considered overweight or obese. The measurement simply looks at how much you weigh on the scale.
This is also the beauty of BMI. It’s not intended to be accurate on a person-by-person basis. It’s made to measure changes in size of large populations. Think about it this way: you can calculate the BMI of every person in a country who either has a drivers license or passport, simply because height and weight are disclosed.
So, is BMI inaccurate? Yes, if it’s misused. If it’s used to measure changes in a large group of people, it’s surprisingly accurate. That’s why the government felt confident using it for vaccine purposes.
Things are starting to pick back up in New York and your schedule might be filling up. On top of normal life stress, you have to worry about a pandemic, so anxiety might be through the roof. To control your fear and anxiety, you can try alternate nostril breathing.
You might’ve been exposed to this breathing technique in a yoga or meditation class. Some apps might use it as a tool for relaxation. Here’s a brief video and description of how it works:
With your index finger, gently close your right nostril. Exhale fully through your left nostril, then inhale. Hold your breath, release your right nostril and gently close the left. Exhale through the right nostril, then inhale and hold. Continue to switch nostrils, breathing evenly and gently. Continue this for 5-15 minutes.
You might find that initially, one nostril breathes better than the other. After a few minutes, they should start to balance out. Try not to do forceful breaths, but keep it gentle and even. This technique was tested in a 2017 study published in BioMed Research International.
The researchers took two groups and had them perform a public speaking test (gasp). One group did alternate nostril breathing for 15 minutes before the test. The other group simply sat in the room, stewing in their own thoughts. Then, they performed the dreaded test. The group who practiced breathing beforehand had less anxiety during their performance.
This is a powerful tool you can use daily to relax. Rather than forcing yourself to sit quietly and attempt to meditate, this active breathing technique gives you something to focus on that’s proven to work.
Noam, TS owner and CEO, was recently featured and interviewed on Natfluence. Natfluence is a platform for top business leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators to share their paths to success and help empower like-minded movers and shakers.
Learn more about Noam's and TS's philosophy of Together Stronger.
At TS Fitness, we have a philosophy that guides our culture: Together Stronger. It’s what our “T” and the “S” stand for. I believe in creating stronger people, not just stronger bodies. I aim to strengthen people by pushing them out of their comfort zone to help them grow. I like to say, “We are here to build you up not break you down.”
If you aren’t growing, you're dying. When people stop learning and wanting to grow that's the beginning of the end.
Your whole life, you were told that drugs were bad for you. The drugs you ingest might be bad, but the drugs your brain makes are lots of fun! Exercise has been known to increase things like dopamine and serotonin, which are feel-good chemicals.
These neurotransmitters contribute to the feeling of euphoria that some people describe as “runner’s high.” Sure, you might think running is boring, but if you run long enough you can experience that same euphoria.
The good news is that these highs aren’t just reserved for runners. While serotonin and dopamine are important, there’s another, perhaps more important drug called Brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF.
BDNF is produced in the brain (specifically the hippocampus) when you exercise. It’s been shown to have neuroplastic and neuroprotective effects. That means it helps the brain grow and change while protecting it from degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s.
BDNF has been credited with curbing anxiety and depression in people who exercise. It also improves brain function. While initial research showed that endurance training increased BDNF, there’s now evidence that HIIT training does as well.
A study published in February 2021 shows that as lactic acid increases, it can stimulate your brain to release BDNF. Lactic acid is produced when you sprint, circuit train, or do high-rep weightlifting.
That means you don’t need to be a runner to feel something like a runner’s high. You can also reap the mental and neurological benefits of exercise with many different types of workouts!
Meal prepping is one of our favorite ways to eat healthy, save money, and save time during the week.
We spoke to Samantha Goldstein, @fitfoodchicknyc, about some of her favorite tips to make meal prep simple. Samantha is all about making quick and easy lunches.
Find A Good Grocery Store
It’s important to keep a well-stocked fridge with your favorite fruits, vegetables, and meats so that you avoid the temptation of ordering take out or picking up fast food. Over the course of the pandemic, many of our clients have started getting their groceries delivered. Samantha has had a great experience with FreshDirect, where she has found the quality of the produce and meats to be high and has success securing timely delivery windows. If you rather shop in person, Samantha recommends visiting Whole Foods as they have a great selection of organic vegetables and grass-fed beef. Though Whole Foods may seem expensive, they are priced similarly to smaller NYC grocery chains but usually have a larger and better selection. Trader Joe’s is great for bagged salads and pantry staples.
Portion Control and Balance
Samantha recently completed TS Fitness’ Nutrition Challenge which focuses on portion control and balancing each meal with carbs, fats, and proteins. When you’re prepping your meals, make sure that you start with a carb like brown rice, butternut squash, sweet potato, or grains like farro, barley, etc. along with an assortment of vegetables. Then add your protein (chicken, fish, grass-fed beef) along with a little bit of healthy fat. Samantha is a huge fan of avocados and finds that they add great flavor and are satiating, keeping you full longer. When it comes to vegetables, try roasting your veggies (such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, carrots) for improved flavor and texture.
To roast vegetables, Samantha recommends using high heat so crank your oven to 425 degrees. Toss your veggies with salt, pepper, and olive oil and roast for 10-15 to brown the veggies and then reduce to 400 degrees to finish cooking.
Pre-Washed and Pre-Cut Is a Huge Time Saver
If you have the opportunity to purchase pre-washed lettuce, go for it! This is a huge time saver during the workweek. Just open a bag of greens and dump it right into your salad bowl. Samantha personally enjoys bagged Baby Arugula, which is often sold pre-washed. Pre-cut veggies can also be a time saver though they usually are a bit more expensive.
Make your workweek easier by prepping your proteins and veggies on Sundays or the evening before if that is more convenient. It should only take a few minutes to assemble a healthy salad or bowl filled with pre washed greens and home-cooked ingredients during the day.
Following Samantha’s tips will make your week easier and your meals healthier.
You’d think that exercise would be more regularly recommended in 2021 to prevent complications from Covid-19. After all, many comorbidities are reduced or eliminated by regular exercise. The lack of recommendations from the powers that be are probably due to a lack of understanding. Can working out really protect you from serious Covid complications?
A researcher from UVA, Zhen Yan, believes it does. He points to an antioxidant that your muscles produce when you do endurance workouts called extracellular superoxide dismutase (EcSOD).
You’ve probably heard of antioxidants from food and drink advertising. Something along the lines of “this drink contains immune-boosting antioxidants!” When you workout, many free radicals (extremely reactive molecules) are produced in the body, which could wreak havoc if they’re not taken care of.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and protect your body. Thankfully, you don’t need to get them from food or drinks, your body produces more than enough as you exercise.
EcSOD is particularly interesting because it seems to reduce the severity of ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) which is the cause of death for some Covid-19 patients. It can also help if your lungs or kidneys fail.
Dr. Yan believes that exercise can boost this antioxidant, which helps your body fight complications associated with Covid. He notes that even one workout significantly boosts the quantity of EcSOD in your body. Those who exercise regularly will gain an added layer of protection.
It’s also important to note that the research refers to endurance exercise, so make sure you balance weight training with cardio.
The more you get into fitness, the more you’ll figure out what you like. Running is the ultimate high for some people, while others like to watch the numbers on their dumbbells and kettlebells slowly rise.
Whatever gets you out of bed and into the gym is great, but you might like to switch things up. It’s kind of like nutrition in that some people are great at eating enough veggies or drinking water, but they need more protein. Finding balance in your diet is like trying to find balance in your workouts.
Lifting weights is a form of strength training. It’s the best way to grow your muscles and get stronger. Running is a form of cardio, and it’s one of the best ways to get in better cardiovascular shape. However, weight training also works your cardiovascular system, and running strengthens your leg muscles.
Each exercise you do has a specific purpose and fits into your workout routine in the same way that carbs and fats fit into a balanced diet. Here comes the tricky part: when you do one type of training, it can interfere with your progress in another area.
Running can slow your strength and muscle gains. Too much strength training can diminish your cardiovascular gains. It’s called concurrent training, and there’s a whole science to it. What you need to know is that it’s often easier to focus on one thing and make progress.
For example, focus on strength training during the winter. It’s cold and you probably don’t want to do your favorite outdoor cardio activity. During the summer you probably want to be outdoors working on your cardio, instead of spending all your time in the gym.
Instead of trying to do everything at once, work on one aspect of your fitness at a time. Your progress will be lopsided, but eventually, you’ll balance everything out!
If you’ve been dealing with pain in your back, neck or shoulders for a while, chances are surgery has crossed your mind at least once. It’s a common solution for many problems, particularly if you’re talking to a surgical doctor. Sometimes it’s the only solution, but often there are other routes you can take before going under the knife.
Alternative medicine has a stigma, and for good reason. Modern medicine is based on sound science and incredibly advanced techniques. Alternative medicine isn’t always effective, but it’s generally lower cost and lower risk than many modern techniques (like surgery). For that reason, many are worth trying.
A group of researchers tested a bunch of alternative therapies and published a study. Here are some of their findings:
Kinesio Tape (KT Tape):
This is a type of athletic tape you put on areas of your body to increase awareness and range of motion. It has some effectiveness if you’re injured and want to keep working out because it slightly decreases pain and increases your range of motion. However, there’s not much strong evidence that it helps. It’s very low cost and there’s almost no risk, so it’s worth trying.
Surprisingly, the researchers found very little benefit for sports massage. It makes you feel better and can help decrease soreness, but it doesn’t help much if you’re dealing with injuries. They note that more research needs to be done, so the jury is still out on this one.
There’s some specific evidence that acupuncture helps with problems like carpal tunnel and lower back pain. So, for specific injuries, it might work. However, if you’re just sore and need to recover, it’s probably not going to help.
Similar to acupuncture, there’s some evidence that cupping helps with specific pains, such as the shoulder, neck, and back. Due to the low risk and potentially high reward, it’s recommended for people with pain in those areas. The only problem is there are so many different types of cupping, no one is sure what’s best.
Blood Flow Restriction:
Using a cuff restricts blood flow out of your limbs (it basically makes your limbs swell with blood) you can train with light weights and still gain muscle. This is extremely helpful if you’re recovering from injury or surgery and need to build muscle without using heavyweights.
When someone is said to have “an hourglass shape” they essentially just have a thin waist in proportion to the rest of their body. It’s not surprising that this is a highly sought-after shape, particularly in females, because they’re more likely to store fat in their extremities than their waist.
However, that’s just on average. Some women are more likely to store fat in their waist and won’t have an hourglass shape, just like not every man will have a robust torso. Corsets were developed to force or accentuate an hourglass figure. Though they’re considered a piece of clothing, they look more like a torture device. The idea is that you wrap something very tight around your waist and it pulls everything in. With your clothes on, you look svelte.
Over time it might look like someone who regularly wears a corset is actually shrinking their waist, even when they take it off. Skeletal evidence shows that people who wear corsets for a long time actually bend their ribs and change their bone structure so that it looks like their waist is shrinking.
Corsets are out of fashion for the most part. They’ve been replaced with waist trainers, which are less extreme but similar in design. You wrap them around your waist and it makes you look smaller. However, there have been claims that they actually help shrink your waist.
Fat loss occurs internally, meaning, hormones in your bloodstream cause you to burn fat. An external object (waist trainer belt) can’t change these hormones.
If anything, waist trainers hurt more than they help. Since they’re so tight, they can restrict your breathing. There’s also scant evidence that they’re bad for your organs since they press everything together. Save your money and time, and skip the waist trainers.
Somedays lifting a spatula can feel harder than squatting a kettlebell. When you can't muster the strength to cook, what should you order?
Coach Henry put together a few tips for ordering takeout and some of our favorite take-out spots in the Upper East Side.
In general, here are some things to look for if you’re searching for healthy takeout.
Mediterranean Food: While it might not necessarily mean your meal is healthy, much of the food at Mediterranean restaurants consists of veggies, healthy fats, and lean proteins.
Salads: It’s hard to go wrong with a bowl of veggies and lean protein.
Vegan and Vegetarian: In general, vegan/vegetarian meals tend to include lots of veggies, fruit and fiber.
Cooking takes time and energy. Meal prep services are gaining popularity, particularly in cities where it’s not very convenient to shop for and cook your own meals.
These services promise chef-made meals delivered straight to your home. Most sites have a menu that you get to choose from, or you can pick a predetermined meal plan that you don’t have to think about.
Meal services are also fairly flexible if you have dietary restrictions. They tend to be vegetarian/vegan-friendly and accommodating if you have allergies.
Milk was meant to be the cure-all for frail bones. The thought was that if people drank more calcium through milk they would provide their bones with the nutrients to grow and stay strong (plus it would keep dairy farmers in business).
As it turns out, milk is a fairly poor solution for weak bones. When it comes to bone loss, women are at higher risk than men. Those at high risk for weak bones include smokers, heavy drinkers, sedentary people, and anyone who doesn’t consume enough calcium or vitamin D.
A change in hormones in middle age causes both men and women to slow down the production of new bone, but this process truly begins around age 30. After that, it gets harder and harder to increase your bone mass.
Bones are the support beams of your body. They provide a foundation for muscles to pull and push. They’re also giant reservoirs of calcium, an electrolyte that your muscles need to work properly. Your body is constantly breaking down bones to supply calcium to the muscles, which is why it’s important to consume enough.
Just like muscles, bones are constantly replenishing themselves. However, they won’t grow unless they’re forced to. Similar to muscles, they need a form of stress to convince them to grow. There are two sources of stress from exercise: the pull from your muscles and the impact from landing.
Running, jumping, and even crawling send impact forces through your bones. Those impact forces stimulate bone growth so that your skeleton can protect itself against future stressors. However, you don’t need impact forces to grow bones. Lifting weights is sometimes more effective.
When your muscles contract, they pull on the bones they’re attached to. The harder they contract, the more they pull on bones. This pulling force stimulates bones to grow stronger, and you don’t even need the jarring impact from an activity like running.
A healthy balance of jumping, running and weight training is preferred for strengthening and maintaining bone mass. The same thing is true for bones and muscles: they won’t get stronger unless you force them to!
Coach Henry Halse
Sometimes you just need to turn up some tunes to get you in the mood to work out.
The TS coaches curated a motivational playlist that we guarantee will get you moving.
If you’ve been struggling to get into your workouts, try these songs!
Check out our Motivational Playlist on Spotify!
If you don't have Spotify, here's the list that you can add to your favorite streaming platform.
Over the next few weeks, our coaches are going to share what they do to stay healthy. Most of the time they dish out advice, but sometimes it’s better to lead by example.
The first issue we’re going to ask them about is staying active. Everyone has lazy days, but you’d expect trainers to have fewer than the average person! While our clients have their coaches to lean on when they need to be held accountable, most of the coaches lack a similar resource.
You might’ve heard that “sitting is the new smoking.” Truly, lack of activity is bad for the body. Even if your workout is lackluster, it’s better than nothing. All of our coaches experience ebbs and flows in their own motivation levels, and have plenty of bad workouts throughout the year.
Noam: “Having a friend or workout partner helps motivate me to workout. Having a scheduled time to workout gets the momentum going. I also recently started tracking my steps, so I can see if I’m being lazy.”
Sophia: “I always find it helpful to block out time into my Google calendar every Sunday for the week. I am much more likely to do at least something if I block out that time for myself. It also helps me to write down my workouts in a notebook.”
Chelsey: “I workout 3 to 5 times per week. On the days I workout I make sure to get 8,000 steps in. I also recently added a dance class once a week.”
Common themes that you can take away from our coaches are:
-Coach Henry Halse
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