Category Archives: Conditioning

How to Improve Your Proprioception through Exercise

Are you familiar with the term “proprioception?” Also known as the sixth sense, it refers to the conscious and unconscious appreciation of joint position. Proprioception should not be confused with kinesthesia, which refers to the sensation of joint motion. The term proprioception comes from Latin, meaning “one’s own.” It basically consists of the sensory information derived from neural receptors embedded in muscles, joints, and tendons. This feedback mechanism is also referred to as “muscle sense.”

 

What Is Proprioception and Why Is It Important?

 

Proprioception makes it possible to catch something without looking at your arm, touch your face without looking in the mirror, or hit a soccer ball without watching your feet. This sixth sense plays a key role in athletic performance as well as in your everyday life. Every time you move, you’re using this sense. Joint injuries, sprained ankles and other similar issues are often caused by a lack of proprioception. Improving balance and proprioception may reduce injuries.

 

Knowing the relative position of a body part during a given movement is due to proprioception. This process occurs subconsciously. When your joints are injured, your proprioception capabilities decrease. This may cause loss of balance and coordination, poor physical performance, and even reduced strength. By improving your proprioception, you’ll become more agile and develop the skills needed to maintain stability.

 

All coordinated movements depend on this mechanism. Simple things like walking, running, or standing, can become difficult for those with poor proprioception. The receptors in your joints, tendons, and muscles send information throughout the body to keep it standing straight, sitting straight, and walking straight. As you age, problems with proprioception may occur. Accurate body sense can be affected by injuries too. The good news is that you can improve your proprioception through exercise.

 

Ways to Improve Your Proprioception

 

There are various training methods for improving your proprioception and regaining your confidence in getting around. When done the right way, they can lower your risk of injuries and reduce pain. Most exercises require nothing but your own body weight and some free space. A physical therapist can develop a workout plan that will facilitate better control of movements and enhance your performance.

 

Proprioception exercises include hip flexions, calf raises, lunges, squats, hip abduction, running and backward movements, lateral movements, jumping, twisting, and pivoting activities. Depending on the exercises performed, you might need a balance board, a bongo board, or a BOSU balance trainer. These accessories are not mandatory, but can help in static balance training.

propreoception

 

Besides exercise, there are many other ways to improve your proprioception, such as rhythmic joint compression, deep pressure massage, water sports, hydrotherapy, and hiking. Most physical therapists use a wobble board or duradisk for restoring proprioceptive mechanisms in their clients.

 

duradisc

Regaining your proprioception after an injury requires time and effort, so don’t expect immediate results. To speed up your progress, focus on multiple joint exercises, crossover walking, running figure-eight patterns, burpees, leg presses, and balance training. These movements will sharpen up your training and make you a better athlete.

agility ladder

 

The Effects of Arousal on Physical Performance

What’s the optimum level of arousal for physical performance and how can you attain it? Most athletes are asking themselves this question at some point in their career. Arousal can help or hurt your overall performance. This psychological and physiological state affects your balance and coordination as well as your focus rhythm, decision-making speed, and muscular tension.

Arousal and Performance in Sports

In order to achieve optimum arousal, it’s essential to understand what this state is and how it affects your athletic performance. Most experts define arousal as a mental, emotional, and physiological state that prepares your body for action. It’s the readiness for action that motivates an athlete to run faster, lift heavier weights, or hit their opponent harder.

focused

Arousal and physical performance are strongly connected. You need the appropriate level of arousal for the things you want to do, whether it’s working out, jogging, or digesting a meal. This state is closely related to stress, anxiety, motivation, attention and other factors that affect your mood. Too much or too little arousal will work against you.   Research indicates that this state can affect your performance in various ways. Several theories highlight the connection between arousal and sports performance:

  • Drive Theory – According to the Drive Theory, the more arousal you experience, the higher your performance will be. This approach also explains why beginners find it difficult to perform well under pressure.

 

  • Reversal Theory – Arousal effects on sports performance are influenced by how you perceive this state.

 

  • Catastrophe Model – This theory explains the link between anxiety, arousal, and performance. If anxiety levels are low, you’ll perform best at a medium level of arousal. If anxiety levels are high, your level of arousal will drop off suddenly. The catastrophe model takes into account both cognitive and somatic anxiety.

 

  • Anxiety direction and intensity – According to this theory, a positive interpretation of anxiety leads to better performance.

 

  • Multidimensional anxiety theory – Anxiety causes poor performance, regardless of your level of arousal. This theory is still being researched.

 

  • Individual Zones of Optimal Functioning – The optimum level of arousal that an athlete requires to perform his best depends on his individual needs. Each individual will react differently to anxiety and arousal.

 

  • Inverted U Hypothesis – Too much or too little arousal and anxiety will cause poor performance. A medium amount of anxiety and arousal will result in optimum performance. The relationship between these two factors is influenced by activity type, level of expertise, and personality types. For example, introverted people are more likely to perform well under low arousal conditions.

performance U hyp

Each of these theories has its own strengths and weaknesses. Most experts seem to agree that when anxiety becomes severe, performance declines even if your keep arousal at optimal levels.   The most widely use approach to the relationship between anxiety, stress, and physical performance is the inverted-U hypothesis, which claims that these factors are interrelated. However, many health experts claim that these theories are oversimplifying the relationship between performance and competitive anxiety.

How to Reach Optimal Arousal Levels for Peak Performance

Not all athletes are able to reach optimal levels of arousal. Additionally, different sports require different arousal levels. In a game of rugby or football, higher arousal levels will lead to increased strength, power, and aggressiveness. On the other hand, shooting, gymnastics, and archery require lower levels of arousal. Many athletes and teams rely on sports psychologists to help them develop the mental skills needed for reaching peak performance.   Professionals use various techniques for attaining optimal arousal, such as:

  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Biofeedback
  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Autogenic training

relax training

Practice is required for controlling arousal and stress. You’ll know it when you’re optimally aroused! To increase your chances of success, use the techniques listed above. Start with progressive muscle relaxation, which is being used by many athletes to maintain arousal at optimal levels before a competition. This technique involves tensing and relaxing your muscles systematically.   Meditation has proven to be effective too. This popular relaxation method requires you to focus attention on a single object or thought. When done properly, it relaxes your mind and body, improves your overall performance, and prepares you for competition. You can also try deep breathing, which is one of the easiest ways to reduce your arousal levels.

guided visualisation

Guided imagery or visualization has excellent results for most athletes. This technique helps control anxiety and arousal. Another popular technique involves self talk and positive thinking. Many coaches teach sports players and athletes how to “self-talk” positively using statements like “I can score a goal,” “Keep running,” or “Don’t give up! You’re almost there.” These techniques can be used anytime for reducing or increasing arousal. In general, athletes are using them before competitions and other important events. For best results, practice until you find a level of arousal at which you perform best.

What Is Functional Training and How Does It Work?

 The functional training craze has been around for years. Over the past decade, it has become a buzzword in most gyms, clinics, and academic institutions. Hundreds of studies suggest that athletes and older adults can expect quick benefits from functional fitness programs. The truth is that anyone can benefit from using this method. From greater aerobic endurance to muscle gains and fat loss, functional training can change the way you look and feel.

functional exercise

 

Is Functional Training Right for You?

 

Many people perform functional exercises at the gym without knowing too much about their benefits. Wall push-ups, squats, overhead presses, lunges, and stair climbing play a key role in functional training. If you work out regularly, you have probably tried these exercises more than once. As part of a functional training program, these compound movements are designed to strengthen your core, improve your balance, and increase spine mobility. They basically train your body for the activities in daily life.

 

Functional exercises mimic everyday movements targeted at core muscles of the lower back and abdomen. Physical therapists are using them for helping patients with movement disorders regain their mobility and return to their lives after an injury. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts rely on functional training for building strength and endurance. This kind of workout helps build lean muscle, increases your mobility, and trains the nervous system to function optimally.

 

agility ladder

Unlocking the Key to Performance Enhancement

 

Fitness experts seem to agree that functional training is a better choice than weight lifting for improving strength, balance, endurance, and coordination. Most workouts are based on activities of daily living and include multi-joint exercises that target nearly all muscle groups. Functional training combines upper body and lower body movements through multiple planes of motion.

 

Doing functional exercises improve core stability, flexibility, and balance. Training with free weights and performing dynamic movements will improve your ability to control your own body weight and maintain good posture. Over time, your core muscles will get stronger. A weak core causes muscle imbalances and contributes to poor stability, which may increase your risk of injury. Thus, it’s important to strengthen these muscles.

 

Athletes, bodybuilders, and crossfitters are using functional training to break through plateaus and boost their overall performance. Whether you’re new to exercise or have years of training behind you, add functional exercises to your workout routine if you don’t already do them! It’s a great way to train your whole body and lower your risk of injury. A well planned functional training program can restore posture, dynamic stability, and muscle imbalances.

propreoception

 

Many strength exercises put pressure on the spine on joints. Functional exercise does exactly the opposite. When it comes to conditioning, it’s not all about big muscles. A functional program can improve your fitness level, reduce back pain, and enhance joint flexibility. This kind of workout is beneficial for any age group or athletic level. After only a few weeks, you’ll see dramatic improvements in overall health and performance.

 

Progressive Lunges

Lunges are one of the best exercises you can do, Period!


 

Add a Progressive Lunge into your regular exercise routine to improve strength, power and endurance in your legs, hips and core.

progressive lunge
When performing the lunge, be sure to drive your heel down on the front leg as you move forward and bring the back leg to the front (see video). Aim to keep your shoulders parallel to the floor at all times, and your lower ribs tucked down.

It is  important that your trunk doesn’t fall forward or back as you are progressing.

female lunge muscles
Keep your core engaged, lunge out far leaving your back knee behind you (not below you) and lower yourself down to the floor. Press up through the heel on your front foot, squeeze in the glute on the same leg and continue into your next rep.

[youtube id=”UTNiuaOrw9w” mode=”normal” maxwidth=”640″ autoplay=”no”]

DOMS – The Real Reason That You Feel Pain after Exercise

Have you ever wondered why your muscles hurt after exercise? Why do some workouts cause severe muscle pain and others not? Is this feeling normal? Known as DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness, this type of pain is trigger by the physical stress your muscles go through when working out. Most athletes and fitness buffs experience DOMS after intense training. The severity of pain may vary. This condition is more likely to occur in those who have just started to exercise after a long break, or changed their workout routine. It can also be a sign of overtraining.

 

What Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?

 

Delayed onset muscle soreness affects every athlete, causing muscle pain and stiffness. These symptoms occur several days following a workout session. It is usually triggered by exercises consisting of eccentric contractions of the muscle. Contrary to the popular belief, DOMS is not the same as regular muscle soreness, which occurs immediately after exercise.

 

There is a lot of controversy surrounding DOMS in the fitness industry. Some say that this problem is caused by overtraining, while others claim that lactic acid build up is the culprit. Suggested treatments are numerous and include physical therapy, heat and cold therapy, massage or foam rolling, nutritional supplements, natural remedies and much more. Many fitness trainers recommend clients to work out harder and longer as a way to reduce muscle pain. Others say that proper rest is a must for those who experience DOMS.

foam roller

What Causes DOMS?

 

There are several possible causes of delayed onset muscle soreness. This painful condition is triggered by your body’s inflammatory response to exercise. Your age, physical condition, and the structure of your skeletal muscular system influence DOMS too. Most symptoms last for seven to 10 days. Delayed onset muscle soreness may be caused by:

 

  • Tearing of the muscle’s connective tissue
  • Over-stretching
  • Over-training
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tears in the muscle tissue
  • Muscle damage
  • Lactic acid build-up
  • Eccentric overload

 

Researchers seem to agree that its initial cause is mechanical in nature. The degree of injury is often a function of the trained state of the muscle. Any exercise you aren’t used to can lead to delayed onset muscle soreness. Common examples include push ups, squats, weight lifting, running downhill and other exercises that consist of eccentric muscle contractions.

concentric - eccentric1

Symptoms

 

DOMS symptoms vary from one person to another and may include muscle swelling, tenderness, edema, fatigue, redness, inflammation, and loss of muscle function. In general, tenderness becomes progressively diffuse by up to 48 hours after exercise. This condition may not seem too serious, but it often results in discomfort and pain. In severe cases, DOMS may cause muscle swelling, loss of motion, loss of strength, and debilitating pain. Athletes and bodybuilders who work out regularly have a hard time dealing with these symptoms.

sore1

It’s important to understand that DOMS is part of an adaptation process that leads to greater strength and endurance. Although it can be painful, there’s no way to avoid it entirely. All you can do is to minimize its symptoms. A balanced diet, proper rest, and supplementation play a key role in muscle recovery.

 

Impact of DOMS on Athletic Performance

 

In rare cases, this condition can cause structural damage to muscle and connective tissue, leading to a decreased range of joint motion, physical impairment, and higher risk of injury. A significant reduction in strength may occur. Most times, the pain goes away within one week, which allows you to return to high intensity activities.

 

How to Treat and Prevent DOMS

 

There are many ways to reduce the pain and discomfort associated with DOMS. Treatment and management strategies depend on the severity of symptoms, and may include:

 

  • Massage
  • Compression
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Cryotherapy
  • Homeopathy
  • Ultrasound
  • Stretching exercises
  • Sauna and hot baths

 

When DOMS occurs, it’s important to allow your muscles to heal. Alternating hot and cold baths, wearing compression garments, and massaging the affected area can help. Dynamic stretching increases blood flow and activates your muscles, which helps reduce soreness. People who experience severe pain, sometimes take anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin.

 

There is no magic formula to reduce the painful symptoms triggered by DOMS. It’s much easier to prevent this condition than treating it. As a rule of thumb, try not to increase workout intensity and duration by more than 10 percent per week. Warm up properly and do some stretches prior to your workouts. Exercise at low intensity until the pain goes away.

 

If you’re training more than usual, increase your protein and carb intake. Good nutrition is essential to muscle repair. Sports supplements, such as glutamine, creatine, and BCAAs, can help prevent delayed onset muscle soreness. The more active you are and the more consistent you are with your exercise, the less you will be affected by this condition.

 

Is Stretching Really Necessary?

Do you stretch before exercising? Health experts seem to agree that stretching improves muscle’s flexibility and helps prevent injury. It may also increase your range of motion as well as joint elasticity.

 

This form of physical exercise is recommended before and after strength training or cardio. It can also be mixed with your regular exercises. For example, if you’re training your chest and back on the same day, do some stretching before going from one muscle group to another. This will reduce your risk of injury and prepare your muscles for a challenging workout.

 

How Does Stretching Work?

 

Stretching is one of the most popular types of exercise. It’s safe for people of all ages and fitness levels, and can be easily adjusted to your individual needs. Physical therapists use this method for pain relief.

 

While stretching is not mandatory before working out, it definitely helps. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, this form of exercise keeps your muscles and joints flexible, improves muscle tone, and relieves cramps. It also helps you move better and improves posture. If you suffer from back pain, do a few stretching exercises every day.

 

static stretch

From children to pro athletes, seniors, and pregnant women, everyone can benefit from stretching. This gentle form of exercise is useful for both injury prevention and muscle flexibility. Researchers have found that it may also enhance athletic performance and speed up recovery. Stretching is essential to runners, bodybuilders, and endurance athletes because it helps prevent tears and warms up the muscles.

 

Types of Stretching

 

There are different types of stretching, and each has unique benefits. Depending on your goals, you can try:

 

  • Dynamic stretching
  • Ballistic stretching
  • Isometric stretching
  • Active stretching
  • Passive stretching
  • PNF stretching
  • Static stretching

 

 

ballistic stretch

Ballistic stretching helps your body move beyond its normal range of motion. Dynamic stretches increases reach and speed of movement. It usually involves arm swings, leg swings, and torso twists. Active stretches use the strength of your agonist muscles to help them relax. These exercises are difficult to hold for more than 10 seconds. They are commonly used in yoga and pilates. Passive stretching relieves muscle spasms after injury. It may also reduce muscle soreness and fatigue post workout. Other types of stretching increase static-passive flexibility and help develop strength in the tensed muscles.

 

Stretching Exercises

 

Stretching exercises target all muscles groups. Some focus on your quads and adductors. Some are recommended for arm and shoulder training. Others hit your calves and knee flexors. These simple moves increase blood flow to the muscles and help you develop the flexibility needed for specific activities without compromising joint stability.

 

If you’re not an athlete, it’s enough to do a few stretches daily. Focus on the major muscle groups such as your hips, thighs, neck, shoulders, and back. Strive for symmetry and hold each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds. Those who play sports should do stretches tailored for the type of activity performed. If you play tennis, for example, you can develop shoulder strains. To prevent this, do stretching exercises targeting your shoulders and arm muscles.

 

 

The Truth about Rep Ranges and Muscle Growth

How many reps produce muscle growth? How many lead to strength gains? Is it better to do high, medium, or low reps? If you’ve been training for a while, you’re probably asking yourself these questions. Whether you want to get bigger, gain strength, or build endurance, it’s essential to use the right rep scheme.

What’s the Perfect Rep Range?

 

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the ideal number of reps. Some people say that you should do a low number of reps with maximum weight. Others claim that high reps are the key to ripped muscles. You’ll also see athletes who do one or two sets with low reps, and another two sets with high reps until failure. Many believe that anything under 10 reps is useless. So, what’s the perfect rep range?

 

The Ideal Rep Range for Hypertrophy

 

building muscle corporate fitness coaching

How many reps you should do depends entirely on your goals. If you want to gain size, you need to train for hypertrophy. Research indicates that the 8-12 rep range is where most strength gains are made. Moderate reps are ideal for building muscle and improving the way your body looks.

 

This approach has many of the benefits of the low rep schemes and many benefits of the high rep schemes. The number of repetitions per set is high enough to keep the muscle tensed until fatigue, and low enough to allow use of heavy weights. Over time, this leads to muscle gains.

 

The Ideal Rep Range for Strength

 

What if you want to get stronger? Then you should do anywhere from one to five reps with maximum load. This approach activates all muscle fibers, including the slow twitch fibers. Low reps are a favourite choice for powerlifters. If you have a hard time building muscle or hit a plateau, try this rep scheme. Short, intense sets of up to five reps can cause dramatic strength gains, which will allow you to lift heavier weights and pack on muscle.

 

Best Rep Range for Building Endurance

 

endurance training corporate fitness coaching

The best way to gain endurance is do high reps. This means you’ll have to perform 15 reps or more per set. This strategy has several advantages. Not only it builds endurance, but also depletes muscle glycogen stores and causes greater definition. As a result, you’ll look ripped.

 

When you do high reps, your glycogen stores will decrease. Your body will react by storing more glycogen in the future. Over time, this will allow muscle cells to stretch and cause hypertrophy and release of anabolic hormones. This type of volume for lifting is ideal during content preparation because it makes you look shredded.

 

All rep ranges have their benefits. You can try each of them separately, or mix them for a more diverse and challenging workout. Heavier weight will increase your risk of injury and may not allow you to use perfect form. If you’re a beginner, go for higher reps with a lighter weight. As you get stronger and gain experience, try new rep schemes in order to find one that works best for you.

 

 

How Does Cortisol Affect Your Body?

Have you ever wondered why you’re unable to lose weight or build lean muscle despite training hard? Do you find yourself constantly stressed because of the pressures in your life? If so, you might have high cortisol levels. This can lead to high blood pressure, catabolism, blood sugar imbalances, and even obesity.

When concerned with the endurance component of concurrent training, cortisol functions to preserve body carbohydrate stores by finding alternate fuel sources for muscle function (by breaking down skeletal muscle amino acids through catabolism), decreasing glucose entry into the skeletal muscle, and by supplying the fuels (amino acids from skeletal muscle tissue) to be used by the liver to increase glucose production

What Is Cortisol?

Also known as hydrocortisone or the stress hormone, cortisol plays a key role in your immune function, insulin release, glucose metabolism, and blood pressure. Adequate levels are essential to health and quality of life but when you’re under stress, your body produces excess cortisol, which may cause muscle loss, weight gain, fatigue, suppressed thyroid function, and poor immunity.   According to scientists, cortisol is public health enemy number one. The human body produces high levels of this hormone during the fight or flight response to stress. For example, if you’re changing jobs or moving to a new city, your levels of cortisol will be higher than usual. Even too much cardio training can increase cortisol levels. Basically, anything that causes stress in your life may lead to small increases of cortisol. As a result, you may experience:

  • Higher blood pressure
  • Decreased bone density
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Suppressed thyroid function
  • Fat gain
  • Muscle loss
  • Inability to gain muscle
  • Increased abdominal fat
  • Lowered immunity
  • Mood swings
  • Increased thirst
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Muscle weakness
  • Skin changes
  • Osteoporosis

 

Its not all bad, cortisol is beneficial to your body as long as it doesn’t exceed certain levels. This hormone keeps your blood pressure in check, supports immune function, reduces inflammation, and helps your body manage stress. It also regulates blood sugar levels and prevents insulin spikes.

 

Cortisol, Stress and Body Fat

Numerous studies suggest that there’s a strong link between obesity, diabetes, and high cortisol levels. Chronic stress causes your body to produce more cortisol, which leads to weight gain and blood sugar imbalances. Even if you eat clean and work out regularly, you can still gain fat because of stress.   In general, people react to stress by eating more than usual, especially carbs and refined sugars from junk food, sweets, and bakery goods. Try to avoid this as it increases the risk of obesity and diabetes. Researches have found that high cortisol levels may cause fat to accumulate around the waist and make weight more difficult to lose. Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill that can lower your cortisol levels. The only thing you can do is to prevent stressful situations as much as possible.

Simple Ways to Reduce Stress

music and relaxing

Although it’s basically impossible to eliminate stress from your life completely, you can learn to relax and keep your cortisol levels stable. A healthy diet, meditation, yoga, breathing techniques, and regular exercise can help to reduce stress in your life.  One of the best ways to lower cortisol levels is to increases endorphin production. Endorphins are called the “feel good” hormones. Strength training, glutamine supplementation, vitamin C, and proper rest stimulate endorphin release so try to have these things in your life. Also, make sure you limit your caffeine intake. Try to get more rest and avoid stressful life events that may increase cortisol levels.

 

happy workers