Innovative Martial Arts
15-1599 Dugald Rd
Winnipeg, MB
204-505-2787
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Fitness

Don't forget to train your posterior chain!

One of the key things that often prevents people from developing functional strength vs mirror muscles / beach muscles is neglecting the posterior chain.

Basically these are all the muscles on the back side of you, the ones you don't see in a mirror.  Part of it is likely just a out of sight, out of mind issue.

But the other part is those muscles are a little harder to train, especially without at least some equipment.  As a result a lot of home workout programs manage to do a decent job working the anterior chain (muscles on the front of you) but neglect the posterior chain.

The reason they are harder to train is in general these muscles work the "pulling" side of things, where as the other side of them is the push.  Using your weight and the floor gravity can help give you resistance for pushing exercises, but it is a little harder for pulling.

So what's the problem?

The problem is strength training is all about balance.  Each muscle has an opposing muscle, your quads to your hamstrings, your biceps to your triceps, etc.  One pushes, the other pulls.

When your workout stresses one side and neglects the other you risk injuries doing ordinary things.  In the "real world" most things involve rotation.  If you throw a ball one side of your body pulls, the other pushes creating a rotation.  Same for shovelling, racking, pretty much anything.

When those muscles are unbalanced you have a strong muscle attempting to work with a weaker one, and it can't keep up.  This can lead to pulled muscles in your back, hamstring, it can cause knee injuries, etc.

We already live a fairly anterior chain dominated lifestyle.  A lot of people spend pretty much their whole day using their glutes and hamstrings as something to sit on and little more.

So don't neglect the posterior chain, it is vital for athletic performance as well as injury prevention.  It might not be as easy to train, and the aesthetics of it might not be as important if you are just looking to look good, but it's a vital part of proper training and getting the best results you can.

Fitness

The trouble with machines for strength training...

Pretty much anyone that is serious about fitness will tell you free weights are better then machines, yet machines still take up a huge chunk of gym space.

In one sense they are easier and safer to use, they keep the weight on the track it needs to be on for you, allowing you to safely do the push or the pull without worrying about it slipping, tipping, falling on you or anything else that could injure you if you lose control of it.

The trouble is you train the "big" muscles, but not the stabilization of them, which is very important in injury prevention.

Think of it like upgrading a car, if you hook the car up to a track and increase the engine power all is good and the car flies down the track. But as soon as you take it off that track you are going to be in for a crash as the steering, stabilization and breaks aren't able to cope with a much more powerful engine.

Machines can have their place, but just because a exercise is safer to do does not mean it is safer for you in the long run. Properly developing stabilization is just as important as developing strength when it comes to safe training.

Fitness

Carb Free, Fat Free....

One of the subjects we talked about at yesterdays workshop was nutrition, and diet fads.

Let's start with Fat Free.

In the mid 70's heart disease was a big problem.  So after some research the issue was found to be too much fat in peoples diet.  This is when the recommendation to eat less fat started, so what happened?

Heart disease went down, but people got fat.

The trouble was removing the fat from foods makes them taste bland, so to keep those foods in production since that's what everyone wanted we got fat-free versions that replaced the fat with sugars (carbs) to get them tasting good again.

So now we've realized that carbs are what makes people fat, so those have become the new enemy for dieters.

The trouble wasn't "fats" though, it was certain types of fats.  Fats are a required part of your diet, they are a necessity in your body absorbing certain vitamins and provide long term energy as your body processes them slower then carbs.

That said, their is a difference between cooking food in bacon fat vs Olive Oil (Also a fat).  Omega-3, Omega-6... things foods are now advertising as containing are fats.

Anyways, carbs are the same.  We need them.  There is something called a ketogenic diet which is basically carb free and can cause a lot of weight loss.... calling it a healthy way to eat however...

What has really caused us trouble is the high amount of processed food we eat.  And, coincidentally a lot of that processed food is carb based.

Broccoli, bananas, apples, carrots... those are carbs.  Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are as well.

If you want a decent way of looking at carbs and whether they are good or bad the "GI Index" is a good place to start.

It measures how fast your body absorbs a specific food.  If you absorb it too fast your blood sugar spikes causing your body to release insulin.  Insulin combines with blood sugar to store it as body fat and get your blood sugar back down.

With some processed foods it spikes it faster then we are really meant to deal with, insulin is released in high levels storing it and then your blood sugar falls bellow where it should be.  When your blood sugar gets low your brain gives you a craving for sweet foods to get it back up.  End result is weight gain.

Food should be plant or animal, thats what we are designed to eat.  The farther it gets processed away from that the worse it likely is for you.

To close here is a very simple rule to judge if you should eat something.  If it is mostly carbohydrate, but no fibre, it's probably a bad idea.  Fibre and sugars are almost always food together in nature, unless the fibre is removed in processing.  Fibre helps your body regulate the speed it absorbs sugars, without it things get absorbed faster then they should.

Fitness

Safety in Fitness: Strength Training

Today I want to talk a little about fitness programs, and the safety factor involved.

Now people train for very different reasons, and that is something that needs to be taken into account.  A body builder is going to have a very different training routine then a power lifter, or olympic lifter despite the fact that they are all weight training sports.  It's no different then a sprinter vs a marathon runner.

The other side of this is where strength training is done, not for competition within strength training, but as a supplement to other activities.  In this case the goal is not necessarily to get bigger, lift as much as possible, but rather the prevent injury in other activities.

For us our fitness program is just that.  It started as a way to get our members in great shape and prevent injuries.

We are not a kickboxing themed aerobics class, and we will never run that in our facility.  Our program is a athletic Strength and conditioning program, designed to get people in shape in a way that makes them strong, lean, agile and resistant to injury.

This effects the way we train, and explains a lot of why we do things the way we do.

As an example of what I mean, in "real life" be it sports, martial arts or simply shovelling your drive way, strength is rarely applied equally from both sides straight on as it is in a weight lifting environment.  It is applied with movement, and rotation plays a big part of it.

So this is reflected in the way that we train.  Too often athletes and non-athletes try to rely on body building or powerlifting exercises alone.  And while these exercises are great and can be very beneficial the body works the way you train it.  If you train everything in 1 dimensional motions its hardly surprising that when you apply that strength in a 3-dimensional "real world" activity it can lead to injury.

It's sort of like putting a race car engine in a car without steering, breaks and balance to go with it.  Too much power without those and you're going to crash. An F-1 car is a amazing vehicle... unless you take it off-roading.

Learn more about our fitness program here

Fitness

Balance in Strength Training

This is a pretty simple concept in Strength training, but one that is easy to neglect, so I wanted to take a minute to look at a couple of ideas.

The first is that muscle groups work opposite each other.  For example your biceps bend your arm and your triceps extend your arm.  Or rather one set pushes, the other pulls.

Balancing push / pull exercises is very important in preventing injury and maintaining a healthy body.  If one group gets disproportionately strong in relation to it's opposing group it's only a matter of time before something gets injured.

The second concept is that outside of a gym environment most "real world" activities are not straight pushes or pulls, but involve rotation.  Throwing a ball, swinging a bat / golf club or even shovelling the driveway are rotational movements where one side pushes, the other pulls.

Again, this is a common cause of injury if the muscles involved are not trained for this.  So not only do pushing and pulling exercises need to be balanced, but training those muscles to work in more dynamic situations is also important for injury prevention.

And the third part of this is stabilization muscles.  Or rather the muscles that help stabilize you're main muscles as they do heavy work.  To see what I mean compare doing a pushup on the floor vs with your hands on a exercise balls or a suspension set up (gymnastic rings, TRX, etc.) I would refer to this article, for stuff that i needed for gymnastics.

Imagine taking a race car engine and sticking it in a economy car without upgrading the tires, steering, breaks and weight distribution... It's a crash waiting to happen.

Same thing when training, a large number of injuries come from not properly training those stabilization muscles.  This is one of the biggest problems of using machines for strength, they take the stabilization aspects out.