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training

You Are Not A Bodybuilder (So Don't Train Like One)

You Are Not A Bodybuilder (So Don't Train Like One)

Bodybuilding magazines may inspire you to hit the gym and push as much weight as possible. But, trying to imitate your favorite bodybuilder is possibly one of the biggest mistakes you can make. It will not work for you unless you are a pro bodybuilder yourself or simply have the genes that will allow you to pump up easier than those who are not genetically predestined for that.

How To Tell If You’re Overtraining and What To Do About It

How To Tell If You’re Overtraining and What To Do About It

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Overtraining is real, ladies and gentlemen. From high performance athletes to the occasional runner, overtraining is a problem that many face—yet it remains undiagnosed. I know this because I have gone through several periods of overtraining myself. Only now, after several years of dedicated training, do I believe to have found the balance between pushing myself and overtraining. Being aware of overtraining, taking precautions towards avoiding it and correctly identifying as well as treating it cannot be emphasized enough.

What Is Overtraining?

To over train means to “train or cause to train too hard or for too long”. Training too hard is a danger for beginners, as they will often go harder than what their untrained body’s can handle. A friend of mine injured his calf muscle on a 5km run he did after having not exercised for years. This is a case of overtraining until injury. When I haven’t worked out for a while, I’ll go light on my first few sessions back. This ensures proper adaption and recovery towards the physical stressor.

Training too long refers to the excessive duration of a workout. Again, untrained individuals are more susceptible to this than novices as their bodies can handle less.

During the warm up phase of a workout, your body is rather stiff and your blood circulation isn’t optimal. Moreover, your full range of motion isn’t at its peak yet.

Once you’ve taken the first few deep breaths, the body is ready for performance. This is when the real workout begins. Your performance increases and then plateaus. After some time, your performance decreases and you slowly wind down your training.

While pushing past the exhaustion is a necessary component of productive training, you don’t want to overdo it. The danger of training too long is especially relevant to runners. At some point, your muscles become painfully sore and your heart is beating like crazy. You start losing focus and your technique decreases dramatically. You become susceptible to serious injuries and the impact on your joints increases. A classic example of training too long.

Working out too often is the third type of overtraining. While the workouts are well planned, you are training often and the body can’t recover fast enough. Personally, I have found this to be the type of overtraining I’m confronted with the most. If you’re training with a deadline in mind (i.e. competition), how do you train as much as possible without overtraining?

This is a tough question to answer without taking any markers or indicators into consider.

What is overtraining? How can you tell if you're overtraining? This infographic will help you to exercise smarter and work out better // The PumpUp Blog

How To Tell If You’re Overtraining

There are multiple ways to gauge your body’s condition. Here are a few good ones:

  1. Low Morning Heart Rate Variability (HRV)

My morning HRV is one of the few numbers I truly believe in and take into serious account. Heart rate variability refers to the space between your individual heartbeats. Contrary to popular belief, your heartbeat is consistently inconsistent. Your body is always making tiny adjustments towards its environment, which can be reflected by more or less unnoticeable changes in the time between heart beats, hence heart rate variability.

When your body is healthy and thriving (not over trained), your HRV is higher. The body is able to handle stress and can react to its environment, which translates into an increase in heart rate variability. Vice versa, when your body is over trained and battered, your HRV is lower. Stress isn't dealt with optimally and you react poorly to your environment.

How does one know if their HRV is high or low? There are multiple ways of measuring it, but my favorite is simply using an app on my phone. “HRV4Training” is an app especially useful for beginners, as it analyzes the data and gives you simple advice. Instead of overwhelming the user with numbers, it provides one score and a sentence informing you about your score and whether or not you should workout during the day. All you have to do is hold your finger over the camera lens for it to measure your HRV.

If your morning HRV is low and you’ve been training hard, consider resting for the day. Take a few days off if your HRV is consistently low or getting lower on a daily basis.

  1. Chronically Tired

Find yourself yawning constantly and chugging coffee despite having slept well? Overtraining doesn’t only cause your body to be sore, it can also make you feel tired and decrease your mental performance. Listen to your body instead of trying to hide the signs of training too much by binging on caffeine. Take a day off or nap frequently.

 

  1. Poor Sleep Quality

Strangely enough, sleep quality tends to suffer when training too much.

One bad night of sleep shouldn't lead to you worrying about overtraining. However, if you have trouble sleeping for a few nights (and you usually sleep like a rock), consider resting.

Aside from your own perception, tracking your sleep is also useful for determining a decrease in sleep quality. You can track your sleep using simple tools such as the SleepCycle app or more expensive trackers such as Zeo tracker.

These trackers will monitor your sleep and give you a report in the morning to inform you about the quality of your sleep. Using the data and your own perception, you can determine whether or not you might be overtraining.

 

  1. Suboptimal Performance 

Declining performance is another great indicator of training too often. If you can’t reach your previous records, you aren’t resting enough in between workouts. If you find yourself tired and sore during the warm up, think twice about working out. Overtraining isn’t always the case when you're sore and not performing well, however it is an indicator one should take into account.

These are just four possible indicators of overtraining. To make use of them, track all four and then make a conclusion rather than only regarding one or two.

 

How To Deal With Overtraining – Simple Methods Of Recovery

If you’re overtraining or are on the verge of doing so, use these recovery tips to eliminate it.

  1. Rest

While there are ways to lower the demand for rest, you can’t avoid it. The body needs rest, period. Take 1-2 days off per week and don’t train more than twice a day. As a hobby athlete myself, I train around 3-4 times per week and find it is demanding enough.

  1. Nutrition

Eating healthy is paramount for recovery. Provide your body with an abundance of nutrients and lower inflammation by avoiding trans fats, added sugar and processed foods. Ensure proper micronutrient intake by eating a lot of vegetables, nuts, meats, fruits and other healthy, unprocessed natural foods. Don't forget to eat enough carbohydrates, fat and protein! Your body needs macronutrients for energy, recovery and overall health.

  1. Stretching And Massage

Stretch daily and after workouts to promote muscle recovery as well as to increase your full range of motion. Runners, weight lifters and other athletes tighten up due to the high demands on the body and thus underperform. Make time for stretching and you’ll not only recover faster, but also feel and perform better.

Massaging is another powerful recovery enhancer. Taking massages with trained professionals is mandatory for athletes. If you don’t have the time (or money) to take a hands-on massage once a week, spend more time on the foam roller.

Self-massage using a foam roller, tennis ball and/or golf ball is referred to as self-myofascial release. Myofascial release (MFR) is a great way to relax the muscle and improve blood circulation. Furthermore, MFR softens up soft tissue, thus allowing for more mobility. Check out this video for a foam roller routine .

  1. Good Sleep

When we talk about sleep, we usually refer to how long one should sleep. The quality of sleep is equally important however, if not more. Increase the quality of your sleep by following these protocols:

  • Pitch black room
  • No screens before bed (unless your using f.lux)
  • Take honey (or other form of simple sugars, such as berries or fruit) and magnesium before bed. The carbohydrates will help your body replenish during the night and the magnesium will relax you.
  • Consume protein before bed for muscle recovery

Aside from improving the quality of your time in bed, sleep 7-9 hours per night.

  1. Cold Exposure

Ice baths, cold showers and winter temperatures are great ways of exposing your body to cold. Why do so? When your body is in a very cold environment, it retracts blood to the vital organs to ensure survival. Then, when you go back to normal temperatures, fresh blood is pumped back to the muscles. This fresh blood boosts the recovery of your muscles.

A cold shower is my favorite way of getting regular cold exposure. I’ll take a cold shower directly after my training, which will get rid of the lactic acid build up as well as refreshing my blood that is in my muscles.

 

I hope you enjoyed this article. For similar articles, please visit LifestyleApex. Follow me on Twitter @MoeHustler and like my Facebook page. Thanks!

7 workout sneakers that are actually good for running

7 workout sneakers that are actually good for running

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Though you may be tempted to buy the best looking sneakers on the market, it is important to know whether that particular shoe model suits your form of exercise. Will you be using your kicks for intense heavy lifting? Serious rope climbing? Stick with specific CrossFit or Olympic shoes. The Reebok Nano 3.0 is a good choice with added protection. The best workout shoes that are actually good for running // The PumpUp Blog

As for me, I run outside almost everyday and hit the gym 3 times a week for basic exercises. Since my primary activity is running, I choose my shoes with that activity in mind. Popular brands want to sell you as many shoes as they can: one pair for fitness, another for cross-fit, another for running in the rain, etc. However, I've come to realize that certain running shoes adapt to almost all body-weight exercises: from air squats to burpees. This particular type of shoe will have great ventilation, flexibility and stability and of course, it'll still be excellent for running.

In this list, I'll be selecting the best running shoes that will help you to sprint or go the distance— but you'll also be able to do box jumps and double-unders with equal ease.

Need workout shoes that can withstand your jogs AND your lifts? These cross-trainers are the answer for you // The PumpUp Blog

Mizuno Wave Rider 18

The best workout shoes that are actually good for running // The PumpUp Blog

These are one of my favorite shoes for both running and multi-form fitness. The workout sneakers' toebox is roomy and its ventilation is superb. What's more, it weighs in at a mere 10.6 oz.

Unlike most premium running shoes, this Mizuno is far from being soft. The usual squishy foam sole is replaced by a firmer substance called the Wave plate, a patented support mechanism that can be found in the midsole. Paired with a 12mm heel to toe drop, this makes the Mizuno Wave Rider 18 an unexpectedly good fit for squats. Its raised heel boosts your posture in the way that modern lifting shoes would. The shoes' lack of compression will give you a consistent platform to push from.

The flexibility on this shoe is better than you'd expect, especially in the forefoot. It will get better with time, as the EVA rubber will become less resistant to bending. You can decide for yourself whether this shoe fits the bill after 100 miles or 200 planks.

With the Mizuno Wave Rider 18 you won't find yourself wobbling during an overhead squat. Who knows you may also win a marathon with it.

Skora FIT

The best workout shoes that are actually good for running // The PumpUp Blog

SKORA means "skin" in Polish, thus it comes to no surprise that most SKORA models feel as comfortable as wearing socks. All SKORA models have a no-sew build and an anatomic fit that mimics the natural shape of one's foot— design signatures that make these shoes unique. You'll want to splay your toes in these sneakers.

With 16mm of thickness in the heel and the forefoot, the FIT equally belongs in the gym and on the road. The minimalist cushion will give you plenty of depth, as well as the stability you need for weightlifting. If you're craving for a complete ground connection, just remove the 4mm sock-liner and go sockless when you're wearing these workout sneakers to the gym.

With a glove-like fit and a featherweight quality,  the Skora FIT makes tough exercises look easy, fast and precise. Are you ready for one leg jumps?

Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit

The best workout shoes that are actually good for running // The PumpUp Blog

Nike promises a more natural ride with its "Free" line. The point is to offer a ground-like feel akin to running barefoot less is more. While it's a "minimalistic" shoe, what so special about it?

First, it comes with a special Flyknit material. This was selected by the New York Times  as one of the best inventions in 2012. There is an engineered "knit" in the upper area of the shoe, which is more or less dense depending the size of one's foot. It blends mobility and support in one sneaker. Finally, the shoes have flex grooves etched into their outsoles, which allows for crazy flexibility and a natural range of motion.

The Nike Free 4.0 is the best of the Free line, according to experts at SoleReview.  It sits between the more minimalist Free 3.0 and the more cushioned Free 5.0, affording wearers with a sweet balance of comfort and ground feel.

Brooks Connect 4

The best workout shoes that are actually good for running // The PumpUp Blog

Brooks is one of the most popular brands for marathon sneakers. They focus on high-performance running shoes with made with high-quality materials and a solid build. Great running shoes like Brooks should have a place in the gym.  My choice goes to their Pure line. It's composed of 3 lightweight, low to the ground shoes: the Connect, Cadence and Flow.  Small frame shoes are preferable for the gym because they are lighter and more flexible.

The Connect is the fastest and most responsive of the 3 workout sneakers: it features an outstanding midsole and a seamless upper sole. The forefoot is extremely flexible, which something I value when I'm doing any exercise that requires jumping or plyometrics. The fit is narrow and supportive, thanks to a strapping system called the "Nav-band".

Also worth mentioning is its traction. Several pods in the outsole give you an outstanding grip, regardless of which surface you're working with.

Under Armor Speedform Gemini

The best workout shoes that are actually good for running // The PumpUp Blog

Though Under Armour is better known for its apparel, the brand released a shoe that works well for most types of exercises.

Its cushioning is consistent, and on the firmer side. The shoe's midsole foam firms up when you accelerate and it softens up when you decelerate, making transitions smooth and exciting. This shoe is a great asset for HIIT running workouts, where you often need to change gears.

The upper, crafted in a clothing factory, is perforated for increased breathability with no visible seams. The only drawback is its non-removable sockliner, so make sure you buy anti-odour sprays before you slip them on.

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante

The best workout shoes that are actually good for running // The PumpUp Blog

The American brand delivers a great lightweight shoe with the Fresh Foam Zante. At a light weight of 8.1 oz and with a low stack height, this shoe will help you run fast. Runners would use it for uptempo workouts to increase speed and endurance.

The midsole is made out of a single soft foam, which increases flexibility while adding just enough softness to the foot strike. The rubber that composes the entire outsole offers outstanding grip and the upper foot is well ventilated. It has an internal smooth sleeve and the tongue is built on top of it – which makes these workout sneakers a perfect fit for sock-less running.

Vibram FiveFingers Bikila EVO

The best workout shoes that are actually good for running // The PumpUp Blog

These are the most flexible workout sneakers you can find out there, as your toes can move independently. FiveFingers are synonymous with barefoot running and this Bikila is no exception. It features a minimal 8.5mm of cushioning and the upper feels like a second skin.

Of course, this is not the choice for long-runs on the road but they are perfect for running on the treadmill. The transition can be hard, especially in the beginning, because you're using different foot muscles to compensate for the lack of cushioning and the flat sole. Expect stronger calf muscles and a stronger big toe.

What's your choice for the gym? Do you go with regular trainers or are you peeky about your choice? Let us know in the comments below!

Fastblr is a powerful running shoe finder which lets you compare prices among 13 online stores. If you don’t know which running shoe to pick, start with our shoe recommender – it gives you 5 best shoes based on your physical and performance characteristics. Keep in touch with us on Twitter and Facebook.

Cover photo via PumpUp member @rachaelgervais.

The pros and cons of online personal training

The pros and cons of online personal training

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The concept of Online Personal Training is quickly gaining popularity on a global scale.  Online training is very much the same as training in person: you receive a program customized specifically for you and work towards your goals with professional guidance.  There's one important difference: your trainer is not standing next to you.

 

Although online personal training can be an invaluable and time-efficient way to train for some, others may miss having face to face communication.  There are pros and cons to be weighed if you're considering online personal training. Here's how you can find out what works best for you:

 

The pros and cons of personal training infographic from the PumpUp Blog

The pros of online personal training

1. Easy Access to Expert Advice:  Many fitness professionals offer online training. This allows millions of consumers to access expert advice from anywhere in the world, rather than being limited to a handful of personal trainers within their home gym.  There are clients in the US who receive health and fitness support from fitness trainers in the UK.  There are clients in Australia who are following fitness direction from sought-after trainers in Canada.

2. Less Expensive:  Personal 1:1 training can become quite expensive, especially if you are seeking a session 2-3 times per week.  As personal trainers become reputable, they quite often become booked and inevitably, their cost per session will increase.  Quite often, you may receive online training at a fraction of the cost.

3. Ongoing Support:  Many online trainers provide comprehensive fitness and nutrition plans that are built into their initial upfront cost.  Online personal trainers often provide ongoing access, including weekly updates through email or text.  Although personal trainers within the gym will write you a comprehensive fitness plan, you will have to opportunity to ask questions during your scheduled time with them.  They may provide additional services, such as meal plans and extra support, however, this may come with an extra cost.

4.  Freedom of Location and Time:  When you receive your personal program, you can use it anytime, anywhere.  This is amazing for those who often travel or work unconventional hours. Freedom from gym hours for these types of individuals is key.

The cons of online personal training

1. Motivation: Lack of follow-through is detrimental, regardless of how amazing your training program is. Some people need the external motivation to meet with somebody. This gives them the extra motivation to get to the gym and finish their workout. Online training is beneficial for those who have found their intrinsic motivation and are prepared to follow through with a plan.

2. No one to spot you:  With online personal training, you will not have a trainer beside you to spot you or ensure proper technique.  This could lead to possible injury and it may also drastically reduce the efficiency of your workout.  This however, is easily compensated through the use of online videos or live dramatization with your online trainer.

 

Final Judgement:
Online training works. You can find stunning transformation photos from people all over the internet who followed through with programs without ever sitting face to face with their personal trainer! Overall, online personal training is recommended for those who have internalized motivation and are seasoned within the gym.

 

About the author
Krysta is a certified personal trainer and holistic nutritional coach. Learn more about her here.

I survived cancer when I was 24. Here's how it changed my life

I survived cancer when I was 24. Here's how it changed my life

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My diagnosis

I never imagined that I would be where I am today. In early 2014, I noticed a mole where I had accidentally smacked my head at work. This one, stubborn mole would change my life forever.  The mole continued to irritate me for weeks on end. It didn't worry me much, but my mom urged me to have it checked. I went to a dermatologist and neither she nor I thought it was of major concern, but, following protocol, it was sent off to the lab for a biopsy. A week later, and to all of our shock, it came back as borderline melanoma.

Melanoma is the most fatal of skin cancers and extremely rare at my young age of 24. I met with my surgeon and it was decided that the site on my scalp needed to be cleared for fear that the melanoma would spread into my lymph nodes. My first surgery went smoothly. It was relieving. On the other hand, the results of the surgery’s biopsy made my stomach drop. The cancer had spread into one of my lymph nodes and a second surgery would be required to see how much further it had spread. Less than a month later, I was back in the hospital being preparing to undergo another surgery. I remember thinking, “Why me? I’m only 24. I have my whole life ahead of me.” But I kept my chin up. I was taught that the grass will always look greener on the other side. I was taught to be thankful for what I have because I am, in some way, more fortunate than somebody else. I knew that there will forever be a greener-looking pasture. These lessons calmed me down as the anesthesia overcame me.

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The physical repercussions from my surgery were obvious. Nerve damage rendered the left side of my face paralyzed. I could not close my left eye or even blink. I could neither form a smile, nor fully open my mouth to eat. Yet, the worst part of the surgery was my inability to do any physical activities! I had become passionate about the gym and hated being kept from it. It took time to recover, but once I was cleared to return, I went as much as I could. I did not care that half of my face was still “dead", I just wanted to regain my bulk! I was discouraged to see I had lost much of my strength. I wanted it back immediately.

My journey to recovery

At the time, I was studying to become a personal trainer, so I applied what I was learning to my own workout routine. I spent hours at home reading books, perusing articles on the Internet, and scrolling through comment threads to discover what had and had not worked for others and why. Circumstances had left me downtrodden, but I was determined not to quit! Cancer changed me. It sounds cliché, but when your life is in question you fight harder than ever to keep it. I am trying to apply this lesson to all areas of my life.Why wait? Why wait for something to change you? Why not dig deep down and change it yourself? It is easier said than done, and I certainly still fail. I am not perfect, but I will never stop trying to better myself. Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said “Winners never quit and quitters never win!”

cancer changed my life pumpup

Today, I feel better about who I am because of what I have accomplished. I am mentally stronger. I am striving to better myself in other areas the same way I attacked my fitness. I’m still not 100% back to where I was in terms of strength but I’m significantly happier. I know I’ll get there and I’m learning to be patient. Everything takes time and happens for a reason. I know I can turn the bad into good and I want people to know that they can do the same. No matter where they are on their journey, they can always move forward. I have learned that the grass is truly greener where you water it!

This is a post by PumpUp member Zach P. Encourage him along his journey on the PumpUp app @zpoisson, and find him on Instagram at @poisson_fitness. Do you have a recovery story to share? Any thoughts for Zach? Comment below! We'd love to hear from you! (Top image c/o flickr)

cancer changed my life pumpup

 

 

Daisy got the body she always dreamed about with one simple New Year's resolution

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Fitness has always been Daisy (@daisymuscles)’s passion. When she purchased her first gym membership 4 years ago, however, she was a self-professed ‘rookie’. “I was so into ‘working out’ but I didn’t know what was right for my body,” she explained. "I only did cardio and some weight machines, but my nutrition was bad. I’d eat 2-3 times a day and I wouldn’t eat ‘clean’." 

Years went by and though Daisy was fit, in her eyes she still seemed too skinny. “It was very depressing to see no progress,” she lamented. "One of my goals was to have thick and toned legs, as well as a slim waist." Frustrated by this conundrum, Daisy resolved to stop going to the gym in 2013, eating much more without incorporating exercise back into her routine. "Of course, it didn’t work out," she confessed. “I did gain weight, but it was all fat. That was even more depressing. I went from skinny to fat, and all I really wanted was to look fit.”

At the end of 2013, Daisy challenged herself with a New Year’s Resolution: to transform her body into the body that she always dreamed about. She took charge of her transformation with full force. "I asked around for help and advice, followed a lot of fitness accounts on Instagram, and began my journey with PumpUp," she mentioned. "It is really inspiring to see other peoples’ transformations and it’s reassuring to receive so much feedback from other PumpUp members. We are all a true fit fam."

When she first started out, nutrition was the hardest for Daisy to get ‘right’. “I began to body build and was advised to eat 6 times a day, all in small portions,” she explained. “This was something I never had to do before! I had to do a lot of research about what to eat, what kind of carbs, protein, and fats are good for my body, etc.”

Needless to say, Daisy’s one New Year’s resolution changed her life. Body building was at first introduced to her by one of her brothers. She quickly fell in love with the concept of giving time and attention to each section of her body in order to build muscle. “That’s why I embraced this lifestyle. My progress is my motivation,” she enthused. "Weights changed my body and gave me the definition of muscle that I always dreamed about."

Her rigorous schedule manifests in more confidence than she’s ever had in her whole life. Here’s a peak at Daisy’s routine: she performs cardio 1-2 times a week and does weight training 5 days a week. "After years of struggling to have a fit body, I’m finally seeing progress and I’m in the best stage of my life," she professed. “I’m inspired by my own progress as well as PumpUp members and fitness instagram accounts. I challenge everybody to not give up on their dream bodies. No matter how much time it takes, no matter how many struggles, regardless of the circumstances: just do it.” Daisy successfully achieved her 2014 New Year’s resolution. She’s ending it on a happy note and is motivated to keep striving for the best version of herself in 2015. 

How to master the frog stance

Ello #PumpUpFamily I’m here to talk to you about the Frog Stance. This is the first step in any journey to extreme balancing, such as Planche, Handstands or Break Dancing.

This move is accomplished by spreading out your fingers and placing your hands in front of you, a shoulder width apart.

Once you do this, you gently rock your weight forward, knees to elbow until you are supported by your arms alone. 


Once mastered you get into variations. You can extend a leg and retract, then the other, and eventually both at the same time.
You can jump your right knee to left elbow, and the same for the opposing side.

To me this is like a game to see what I can jump on, to see how creative I can get on my journey to extreme fitness, and to see if I can reach my goals of packing four years of training into one.
I often spend five or six hours a day dedicated to fitness: about three in the gym; two running; and always a full hour running around Manassas VA.  To keep limber, i make sure my final hour of fitness is dedicated to balance and yoga.
will catch up to the great Simon AtaFrank Medrano and Sam Tribble. It is only a matter of time.

My ultimate goal is to be a CPT for extreme training.  Help me out by following me and asking questions, or by answering me when I have questions of my own!
Good luck out there Team PumpUp!

Check out these great talents:

Finally, feel free to subscribe to my channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/MrBloodRedIce
Kik: shogunMcb
Line: bushido_ice

This is a post by PumpUp member Michael Chase. Follow Michael on PumpUp @michaelb23579, subscribe to his YouTube channel, and check out his Instagram @mcb23579. 
For questions, contact Michael on kik (shogunMcb), Line (bushido_ice), or Facebook