Lunges, split squats, and other unilateral leg movements are tremendous tools for building a strong, functional, and balanced body. Yet they tend to take a backseat to the more popular lower body exercises like squats and deadlifts. Let’s explore some of the benefits of lunges, common faults, and some popular variations so you never miss a lunge day again!
Lunges are a fundamental human movement pattern and take many different forms. The movement is generally defined as a split legged stance with one foot planted in front of the body and the other extended behind the body. From this position the athlete can raise or lower their body while stepping forward to the lead leg or returning to the rear leg. Lunges require leg strength, core strength, balance, and coordination. They can be performed as a bodyweight movement, under an external load, or explosively as a plyometric exercise. There are really an incredible number of ways to perform this exercise. Depending on your goals there are many ways that training lunges can be beneficial.
If you are looking to improve balance and coordination you could train lunges with a loading pattern that increased the demand for midline stability. Lunges performed with a barbell overhead or a single dumbbell or kettlebell loading one side of the body will achieve this. Due to the stabilization and core strength required to complete a lunge variation of this sort there is a huge transfer and application to sports and life. Ensure that the load demands don’t force you into a compromised position and that you have the necessary mobility to handle the movement pattern (AKA ask coach if you’re not sure)!
To develop greater strength and enhance muscle growth select lunge variations that allow for greater external loading. A reverse lunge is a popular option for this as it allows the weight to remain in the lead leg ensuring proper form and engagement of the posterior chain. Reverse lunges can be performed with dumbbells held at waist level or a barbell in the back rack position to go hard and heavy. A good rule of thumb is to keep the majority of the load in the front leg as you perform the movement. Select a load that allows for a controlled descent to the floor allowing the knee to kiss, not crash into, the ground.
To prevent injuries, increase range of motion, and correct imbalances the Bulgarian split squat or Bulgarian lunge is an excellent choice. This exercise is performed by working one lead leg at a time with the rear foot elevated on a platform 4-6 inches higher than the lead working leg. This movement optimizes the hinge position of the hips and is greater for activating the gluteus muscles. A popular loading pattern for this lunge is with dumbbells held in suitcase fashion. Make sure to select the appropriate box height to elevate the rear leg to prevent the spine from hyperextending at the end range of motion. Take care to stabilize the lead leg and focus on balance to reap the benefits of this killer lunge variation.
If you want to learn more about the best training movements be sure to discuss your goals with one of our coaches!
Most people probably know that physical exercise is good for their health.
But now, a new study makes the connection even more powerful. If you’ve been waiting for One More Piece of Evidence to convince you to exercise, this might be it.
Meeting guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise cuts the risk of dying from flu and pneumonia almost in half – by 48%, according to a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The study reviewed data from more than 570,000 people from the US National Health Interview Survey between 1998 and 2018. Participants were followed for an average of nine years after the initial surveys about their physical activity habits and health.
The World Health Organization and US agencies recommend adults get 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio exercise and at least two sessions of weight training per week.
Meeting those standards greatly boosted the participants’ resistance to death by flu and pneumonia, two of the leading causes of death in the world and in the United States.
Researchers said the findings should be used to encourage more people to exercise more regularly.
Exercise Fights Many Illnesses
We couldn’t agree more, of course. And we want to point out that regular exercise helps prevent a wide range of illnesses and can improve chronic conditions common later in life, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, obesity, depression and countless more.
“Physical activity is associated with lower incidence of several comorbidities, including stroke and coronary heart disease, which increase the mortality risk among adults hospitalized with community-acquired pneumonia,” the new study wrote. “Clinical trials have demonstrated that aerobic training programs improve expectoration in persons with cystic fibrosis and peak oxygen uptake in persons with COPD.”
The Mayo Clinic adds arthritis; back pain; cancer, dementia; and osteoporosis.
As we age, exercise is the miracle drug that keeps us healthy and improves our chances of staying strong against countless obstacles.
The study also gibes with prior research that found exercise was helpful in lowering the risk of getting Covid-19. This was promoted often during the pandemic.
Some Is Better Than None
We often hear people say they don’t have time to exercise.
You actually don’t have time to be sick with the flu or pneumonia.
If you have time for TV, Internet surfing, and other leisure activities, then you have time to improve your health by moving your body regularly.
And don’t be intimidated by the 150 minutes involved in the recommended standards. This new research found that getting 10 to 149 minutes a week of aerobic activity was linked to a 21% lower chance of dying from flu or pneumonia.
Like we said, you already knew that exercise was good for you.
With us, it’s also safe, fun, and effective.
And now, knowing it lowers your risk of dying from even flu and pneumonia?
What more do you need? Come see us today and let’s get you moving.
Stay Cool and Safe in the Heat
As fun as summer can be, it can also pose potential health risks, like heatstroke and dehydration. And this summer has proven to be a doozy in many parts of the US and the world.
But you can still have a fun, safe summer outside. Be sure to take no-nonsense precautions and respect Mother Nature (and your wellbeing).
- Drink plenty of water. It increases your metabolism to help you lose weight; makes you feel full faster; and – importantly now – keeps you cooler. Plus, water is good for digestion and skin. Follow this rule of thumb: Drink between a half-ounce and 1 ounce of water for every pound of body weight, according to WebMD.
- Avoid midday heat. Enjoy your outdoor activities when it’s cooler. If you like to garden, get your digging done around breakfast time. Then walk or jog after dusk. Play in the water when you can. Workout in our comfortable facility at any time.
- Wear sunscreen and hats. Most people over 60 don’t use sunscreen, Consumer Reports says, even though skin cancers are rising among Baby Boomers. Use something with an SPF between 30 and 50. Use plenty and reapply often.
- Be careful of bugs and other garden dangers. Empty flowerpots, buckets, and other water containers to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Use outdoor repellents around the yard. Keep walkways, patios and garage floors free of hoses and other things that can trip you up.
As always, eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, limit your alcohol, and get a good sleep every night.
We’re here to keep you moving – and it’s always safe and plenty cool in here with us! Come on down.
If you’re ready for results it’s time to ditch the health club…
There was a time when we got all the exercise we require from our daily activities. But as hunting and gathering lead to farming and eventually the industrialized world we live in today the need for human “labor” has been nearly eradicated. Now that we work desk jobs, eat our meals from the hot bar at Whole Foods, and enjoy a generally sedentary lifestyle we are required to reintroduce this missing physical activity. For some reason, the question of how to add physical activity, or work, back into our lives is one that has proven to be puzzling, controversial, and difficult terrain to navigate.
In response to the demands of the market the fitness industry has grown tremendously, particularly in North America where an estimated $28 billion was spent in 2015. Much of this industry is dominated by health clubs and large gym franchises that offer a sampling of strength equipment, cardio machines, TV’s, massage chairs and minimal staffing. Granted how many staff members do you need when your members don’t actually attend the club? In a study done by students at UC Berkeley found 67% of gym memberships are never used in the population they surveyed.
“If you are not going to the gym, you are actually the gym’s best customer.” -Stacey Vanek Smith, NPR
The savvy marketers at big box gyms know how to target their marketing towards individuals who won’t actually come to the facility. As humans we often get a rush of excitement by a new fitness undertaking. “This is it, the time I actually change, no looking back,” you say. The challenge is that the health club has made zero commitment to you. They don’t care if you show up or not. Luckily there is someone out there who does.
Boutique fitness is the alternative to the traditional health club model. Boutique gyms offer specialized classes based on the expertise of the owners, teachers, or coaches. CrossFit boxes, Barre studios, Bikram yoga, parkour facilities, spin classes are all great examples of the boutique fitness model.
These communities succeed when the all parts are working together; the owner, staff, and clientele all succeed when they each meet their goals. This synergistic effect leads to faster results and more satisfaction from all parties. As a client you have a team of coaches and fellow members who are all rooting for you, teaching you, and most importantly holding you accountable. Becoming fit doesn’t have to be a chore, a challenge, or a pain point. In fact, it can even be fun 😉
Boutique gyms have been seen rapid growth in the past decade as clients recognize that when it comes to fitness, not all gyms are created equal. Some of the most common excuses sound like:
- “I have a hard time sticking to a routine”
- “I’m just too busy to exercise”
- “I get bored with going to the gym, it always feels like work”
- “I don’t know how to lift weights/choose a routine/eat the right food”
These are great excuses, but since you’re ready to make a change it’s time to ditch the excuses and focus on RESULTS. By implementing a system that counters your excuses you’ll be left with the only option, the results that you want to achieve.
If you struggle with sticking to a routine you will benefit from the coaches, friends, and community members that you’ll meet at each class. A group of people that will ask you about your day, learn about your goals and life, and most importantly encourage you to show up consistently to your workouts.
If you claim to be too busy then you should sign up for classes ahead of time. The wide variety of classes that are available each day at time frames that are consistent with your schedule make it easy to squeeze in an hour long workout.
If boredom is your challenge then a workout that changes every day is exactly what you need. Not only that but the different coaching styles and friends you’ll make at different times of the day make each class a totally unique experience.
If information is the enemy then relax, because that’s already been taken care of for you. Your coach has put a lot of thought into a training program that will improve your fitness and will be by your side to instruct you on form, breathing, and what weights to use. Keep an eye out for group nutrition challenges to boot!
To get the results you want sometimes you need to try a new approach. If that trip to the gym feels more daunting than Frodo walking the ring to Mordor then it’s time to see what a boutique gym has in store for you!
Most of us have an area in our life we wish we were performing better in. That part of us that doesn’t quite fit into our own skin. It could be a touchy subject that our spouse and friends know to steer clear of, the elephant in the room. It could be the promotion you still haven’t received, the credit card you haven’t paid off, or the weight you were supposed to lose by the beginning of summer… in 2012.
And because you’re wearing this very uncomfortable skin that’s not quite your size I am happy to tell you that you are exactly where you chose to be today.
I can already hear the objections rising up so let me explain why.
You see I totally understand your story. I understand because it’s yours, mine, and everyone else’s. Sometimes having a new baby, a busy time at work, or the worst timing for a medical emergency/broken down car/economic depression can happen. There are a million and one events in life that can derail us. They are not always fair and can seem impossible to overcome when they show up knocking at our door.
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths.”
At that point we do an admirable thing. We give up on our dream. We set it aside to go fix the problem. We change our identity and become the superhero who knows exactly how to work overtime and take care of a sick parent. We do it because we want to make sure the story has a happy ending. We do it out of love.
And life goes on.
And sometimes the situation gets better. And sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, the situation that called for a superhero 6 months ago no longer needs a hero to save it. But there you stand in cape and tights committed to action. Except now it’s time to go home. Time to write a new story.
Where you stand today is a result of many choices. Some of your hero moments were the big decisions that shaped your trajectory. Like I said, I’m proud of you for doing that. But now it’s time to get back on the path. Your path. The one you stopped telling yourself that you wanted because it hurt too bad to think that it may never come true.
You might think it’s too late (it’s not).
You might want to try, but feel that you strayed too far (you haven’t).
You have to remember you have the power of choice. And it’s a good thing that you do. It gives you the power to turn your greatest adversity into your greatest strength. You always have the option to shy away or to stand and fight.
It’s time for a new story. You’re the hero and you’re at the turning point in the movie of your life. So what are you going to do next?You’ve endured hardship, learned tough lessons, and fallen time and time again. Wouldn’t this be a great time for everything to turn around?
Maybe you can recruit someone to help you get there, a long lost friend or a wise old mentor. Maybe you need to crank up “Eye of the Tiger” and experience the training it will take to achieve your success.
The time to act is now. Don’t slip back into your old story. You are the hero. The power of choice brought you here. Your choice decides what happens next.
So what are you going to do?
[GYM OWNER:] Add a call to action here, like: “Schedule your Free Consult here” with a link.
Fitness trends come and go and most fall to the wayside for good reason.
Most programs fail to produce consistent results. It’s a wonder why so many folks stray away from what is tried and true when it comes to exercise programs?
“The rule is: the basics are the basic, and you can’t beat the basics.” -Charles Poliquin
Despite what your goals may be, every individual can benefit from physical resistance training. Not only that, but the health benefits extend far beyond your short term fitness goals. Regardless of why you train, let’s take a look at some of the reasons you should incorporate strength training into your fitness regimen.
1. Training for strength produces results.
Whatever your goals, muscle will help you get there. Some companies in the fitness industry has made a fortune around buzzwords like “tone”, “lift”, and “sculpt.” The problem is there’s no way to measure those loose terms. If you want to change your body composition there is only the ability to gain or lose muscle while simultaneously gaining or losing fat. If you are looking for the most efficient way to do make a change then strength training is your best option.
Strength training, or physical resistance training, can be defined as a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles. When you gain muscle you increase your bodies basal metabolism (the amount of calories you burn each day before factoring in physical activity). It’s kind of like putting a bigger engine in a car. The car is capable of moving faster or pulling a heavier load (more muscle), but it also uses more fuel (fat) whether it’s cruising down the freeway or idling in the driveway. Strength training helps us “tone” through this muscle gain/fat loss trade.
2. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” -Peter Drucker
Training for strength provides a clear path for success. You can set training goals that are specific, measurable, and produce desired outcomes. A good coach will help you design a plan towards these goals with checkpoints along the way. Your strength training program is a road map to success with clear directions. Sets, reps, and weights lifted safely through the full range of motion are the signals that you’re on track. Many people find that a more detailed plan helps them stay motivated as they experience progress.
3. Age gracefully with more muscle mass.
As we get older strength training is one of the most important things we can do for our health. Physical independence is a key factor in a great quality of life.
A comprehensive study of strength training has been proven to:
- Improve motor function
- Lower resting heart rate
- Increase stamina
- Prevent sarcopenia (age related muscle loss)
- Improve bone mineral density
- Prevent and help rehab injuries
Functional strength training will be an asset in daily life too. From picking up grandchildren or bags of groceries to climbing stairs with confidence.
4. You’ll experience epic brain gains.
Did you know that lifting weights can strengthen your brain just as much as it does your body?
Dr. Yorgi Mavros from the University of Sydney has found that high‐intensity physical resistance training (PRT) results in significant improvements in cognitive function, muscle strength, and aerobic capacity in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Adults who followed a resistance training routine in addition to cognitive training performed significantly better than control groups on a series of mental tests. A couple key factors to note:
The participants exercised 2x/ week working to at least 80% of their peak strength.
The benefits lasted one year after the exercise prescription had ended.
What does that mean? According to Yorgi, “The stronger people became, the greater the benefit for their brain.” Let that sink in for a minute. You actually grow your brain by training to become stronger! It makes me wonder if Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity in between heavy sets of back squats…
5. Strong moms have healthy babies.
During pregnancy, the question always arises of what does fitness look like for this stage of life? With so much on the line, it’s important to consult with a doctor before beginning any fitness routine. Luckily, there is a tremendous amount to be gained by incorporating a strength training routine under normal circumstances. Resistance training can help alleviate symptoms and improve health outcomes for the mother and child. According to the Mayo Clinic, women who follow a consistent strength training routine during pregnancy can experience:
- Reduce backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling
- Boosted mood and energy levels
- Better sleep
- Prevent excess weight gain
- Maintain levels of muscle strength and endurance
- Reduced incidence of gestational diabetes
Not only that but women who train during pregnancy report enhanced body image and better psychological well-being!
We would love to help you live a healthy strong life. Schedule a Free Consult to learn more.