Fitness Articles

Safety Squat Bar

Post by Todd Fano

For the second instalment in my series on specialty bars we will look at the safety squat bar.

The unique forward facing handles allows people with restricted shoulder mobility to squat without pain.  This handle design is also beneficial to athletes who have a high rate of shoulder injuries. This would include swimmers, baseball pitchers and volleyball players just to name a few. Another unique feature of the bar is the cambered ends of the bar. The cambered ends shift the weight towards the front of the body, this gives the “feel” of a front squat. This forces the lifter to adopt a more vertical torso and therefore less hip flexion and possibly less knee strain. It also helps engage the anterior muscles of the abdominals.

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Setting Goals That Work

Post by Todd Fano

    As we roll into January and a New Year, people all over the world find themselves making the inevitable New Year’s resolution.  And by the time February comes around, most of them have already given up on them!  It would be easy to say that these people lack will discipline or motivation, but what many really lack is proper goal setting skills. 

    An effective tool for goal setting is to use the SMART method.  SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time framed.  It is commonly used in project management or human resources, but it is very effective for setting fitness goals as well. Its effectiveness is a result being able to use the criteria to set quality short term goals that lead you to a long term or “end” goal.  Here is a more detailed breakdown of the criteria.

Specific- The usual resolution goes something like this: “I’m going to lose my love handles”.  A specific goal would be “I’m going to reduce my percentage of body fat by 5%”.  This gives you a much more specific target to shoot at.  From here it would be advisable to get a body composition test. This test would tell you exactly how much of your body weight comes from fat, muscle and bone. This allows you to set a specific goal, say dropping your body from 25% body fat to 20% body fat.

Measurable-  “I want to improve my bench press”.  A measurable goal would be “I want to increase my bench press by 15 lbs.”.  To achieve this goal you would have to determine how much you can currently bench press which gives you a starting point.  You should then start a training journal to track how much weight you lift each session.  By having a baseline you can truly measure your progress.

Achievable-  “I going to go to the gym 5 days a week and run the other 2”.  A more achievable goal for most people starting out would be “I’m going to go to the gym 2-3 times a week and go for a walk/ run 1-2 times a week”.  All too often, people set their targets too high, making their goals unachievable.  This often leads to people becoming disappointed with their progress (sometimes even if they are making great progress), frustrated with their programs and ultimately quitting them.  By being more realistic with your time commitment your goals will be far more achievable.  It’s great to have ambitious goals over the long term, but approach them step by step.  By reaching one small goal after another, you also build confidence in yourself, which helps build confidence for continued improvement.

Realistic-  “I want to lose 10 lbs. of fat and gain 15 lbs. of muscle”.  A more realistic goal would be “ I want to lose 10 lbs. of body weight and retain the muscle I have”.  Once again, by setting your goals too high you set yourself up for frustration and failure.  Keeping your goals realistic allows you to more readily achieve them and continue your training with confidence.

Time framed-  “I’m going to start going to the gym sometime soon.”.  ”I am going to start my gym routine tomorrow.” is a time framed goal.  You have to be honest with yourself, the longer you put something off,  the less likely the chance it will ever be done. By setting a deadline you ensure the task will be accomplished within a certain amount of time and you give yourself less room to procrastinate and eventually forgetting about your goal all together.

By using these five simple criteria, everyone can set effective and high quality goals to give themselves a great opportunity to achieve their fitness goals. 

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An Intro to Metabolic Training

What is Metabolic Training?

Metabolic Resistance Training (MRT) has recently gained mainstream popularity as a tool to increase fat loss. Technically, MRT includes any type of training that improves the efficiency of certain energy systems, which is just about any exercise.  More recently, MRT has been associated with training that uses challenging, compound (multi-joint) resistance exercises which train your large muscle groups, with short, but very important rest intervals.  This type of workout can be performed as a circuit, pairs or groups of exercises, or single full body exercises.

Metabolic Training does NOT:

  • Use single joint exercises (ex: seated bicep curls, leg extensions, triceps press downs)
  • Skip the rest between sets (if you are not resting, your body does not have time to recover to perform the next set at a high intensity)
  • Last much longer than an hour (if you are able to perform your workout for much longer than an hour, your intensity probably isn’t high enough)

Why use MRT?

The goal of metabolic training is to achieve the holy grail of training: build muscle and burn fat.  Through a well-designed and well executed MRT program, you can not only improve your body composition by building muscle and burning fat, increase your cardiovascular health, and improve your hormone profile.  Another benefit of MRT is that it’s efficient and you don’t have to waste precious time to get great results.  Also, even though it’s tough to admit while you’re in the middle of your third set of weighted burpees, MRT is fun!  For most people, performing a dynamic, full body workout is a lot more fun and engaging than sitting on your a** doing bicep curls.

How to create a MRT program:

There are countless ways of designing your MRT program and the best way is to talk to a qualified and experienced fitness professional.  The exercises used in MRT can use:

  • High intensity
  • Heavy weights
  • Compound (multi-joint) and full body exercises
  • Short (but valuable) rest periods
  • Alternating couplet sets, groups, circuits

Some indicators that you are performing a MRT workout:

  • You are breathing (very) heavy – you should be creating a great demand for oxygen for recovery
  • Increased heart rate – your heart should be pumping hard to get oxygen to your muscles
  • Your muscles burn
  • Your workout is relatively short – if you are performing your MRT workout correctly (high intensity), it shouldn’t last for 2 hours.  You should aim for a workout that lasts closer to 45 minutes (and you should be pretty exhausted by the end of it)

Visit our favorite online personal training website to see a sample MRT workout:

http://www.battleyourself.com/crash-course-metabolic-training/

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