Today’s blog is going to be centered on individualizing the subjects of nutrition and exercise. We miss out on effect results if we do not have a component of individualization in our exercise and/or nutrition plan. I believe the fitness community has lots of positive and inspiring qualities. However, I also believe that there are detrimental aspects that need to be addressed. Cookie cutter programs being one of these. The truth is what works for me might not work for you exactly. The most effective coaches and trainers understand this truth. I believe in structuring nutrition/exercise plans around principles and science. With science there still needs to be components of individualization if we are to reap the most effective and sustainable results. Here are some practical ways to individualize nutrition and exercise to help best fit your lifestyle.
My first full time job out of college was a wellness director for an organization that helped served high risk youth. I helped spearhead an exercise therapy based program called Spark. I created this program based off a book called 'Spark' by John Ratey. Ratey is a member of the Harvard Medical Team and provides ample research supporting the physical and physiological effects of exercise on the brain. We combined Ratey's research based protocol and some of my background in exercise science to provide a thorough exercise program for the youth we served. Through this experience, I came to realize the psychological power that exercise has on the brain. Many times we only think about the physical benefits of exercise and nutrition. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to wellness benefits.
Resistance training is as an interesting topic. By now, I hope there is enough education and information around this misconception but there still seems to be some hesitation with it. During this blog I want to talk about some of the benefits of resistance training and help you create your foundation around this life changing fitness component.
One of the problems a lot of people run into along their wellness journey regards measuring progress. First you need an effective system to create results but you also need a system to measure results. Sometimes individuals might be following the right principles and creating results but lack the method in which to accurately measure progress. In the same manner, they might place too much importance on certain progress indicators without understanding the overall importance of multiple progress points. This leads to to a decrease in motivation, consistency, and ultimately sustainable results. If we have high demand lifestyles we don't have time and energy to waste on spinning our wheels. We need effective and efficient systems to get us to our goal and give us the capacity to better execute our life mission (the things you are very passionate about). During this blog, I want to share with you my progress point system that will allow you to accurately track progress which allows you to see results effectively and efficiently.
During this blog, I want to talk about the Principle of Progressive Overload. What is the right exercise? What is the right workout? What is the right program? These are questions I hear a lot. We are all different in terms of how we respond to certain stimuli and each have various individual factors such as exercise history, anatomy, and mobility (just to name a few). However, what each program has in common is the Principle of Progressive Overload. This principle states “in order for a muscle to grow, strength to be gained, performance to increase, or for any similar improvement to occur, the human body must be forced to adapt to a tension that is above and beyond what it has previously experienced.” In order to apply this principle to your workouts, you need to find different ways to increase stress that is above and beyond what your body has previously experienced. In this blog I want to discuss four different ways in which you can do this. Keep in mind that these are basic concepts but are often times overlooked. I believe that we have a tendency to make things more difficult than they need to be. For whatever reason, we tend to believe that programming needs to be complex and extremely difficult in order to see results. Keep it simple, sustainable, and enjoyable while mastering the basics. You will be surprised how effective this approach becomes.
The most common and straight forward way to increase stress on your body. This method involves increasing the weight lifted over each workout. For simplicity sake, I will use the same example throughout the entire blog. During week 1 you squat 100 pounds for 8 reps. Using this method, you would then squat 110 pounds for 8 reps on week two. This increases the demands placed on the body and as a result adaptation will take place assuming you have adequate recovery.
This is pretty self explanatory here. This method involves increasing the reps performed over each workout. During week 1, you squat 100 pounds for 8 reps. During week 2 you would then squat 100 pounds for 10 reps. Again, this method increases stress placed on the body and will lead to adaptation eventually.
Tempo is essentially the speed of the movement you are performing. This is an area a lot of people forget but is so incredibly important and effective. Here’s an example of how you can progress with tempo. Week 1 you squat 100 lbs for 8 reps with a 2 second eccentric (lowering phase) and a 1 second pause on the bottom of the squat (isometric). This provides a time under tension of 3-4 seconds assuming you have good movement quality throughout the range of motion. During week 2 you can increase the time under tension to 5 or 6 seconds (3 second eccentric and a 2-3 second pause). Time under tension drastically increases the metabolic stress placed on the body and is a key component in hypertrophy (muscle growth), connective tissue health, and progression.
Rest periods are another effective way to increase the tension placed on your body without changing weight, reps, or tempo. Let’s say week 1 you rest 1 minute between squat sets. During week 2, if you rest 30 seconds between each set and achieve same amount of reps with the same amount of weight, you will have increased the tension placed on your body but just simply resting less.
There are lots of other methods you can use to adhere to the principle of progressive overload. Weight, reps, tempo, and rest are basic concepts but are extremely effective. Every solid program out there is built around this principle and applies one or two of these basic concepts. Choose a balanced outline, be creative, progress slowly, and find a sustainable program that you can adhere to on a consistent basis. Adhere to these principles and explore your wellness. Your best is yet to come!
If you are looking to gain muscle, lose fat, and/or improve your physique, squatting will help you get there. During this blog, I hope to encourage you to keep squatting or perhaps persuade you to incorporate more squats into your fitness routine.
Variation: Remember, there are lots of different types of squats that can be personalized to your fitness level. Some options include: goblet squat, back squat, front squat, box squat, overhead squat, air squat, suitcase squat, single leg squat, and sumo squat. Regardless of your wellness background, the squat can be a very effective tool.
Functional: The squat movement is one of the most frequent movements we see in everyday life. Think about how many times you sit in a chair per day? Furthermore, proper squatting helps build abdominal muscles, spinal erectors, and the majority of muscles found in your legs (talk about bang for your buck). The development of these muscles will aid in walking, running, jumping, bending, or really any natural movement you can think of.
Physique: Not only do squats work multiple muscle groups but they also elicit more hormonal responses than other lower body machine exercises. The release of these hormones will help build or preserve muscle mass, depending on your goal. Why is muscle mass so important? For starters, it gives shape to your body and makes you look good. Also according to the American Journal of Medicine, muscle mass has been directly linked to life expectancy as you get older.
Mobility/Balance: The squat can also be an amazing diagnostic tool. Performing squats regularly will help in discovering mobility issues and muscle imbalances which, if corrected, will increase the overall health of your body. Fixing these issues will also aid in injury prevention. Two key components inside of Spark With Stark membership programs are movement quality and postural corrective exercises. These areas help us reach our goals and allow us to sustain the results for the long run.
Potential: Proper squatting on a regular basis can help you move better in everyday life and help you reach your true potential in terms of wellness capacity. In my humble opinion, this is a key part a lot of people shrug off. Personally, I spent years worrying about how much weight I was using and not nearly enough time of how well I was moving. This is the whole premise behind, Dr. Aaron Horschig's book "Squat Bible" (it's a great read if you are into exercise science). You will never reach your full wellness potential if you don't move well. This can be applied to any fitness goal you have. For me, the key to sustainable wellness is not comparing yourself to others but pursuing your own potential. Through doing that, I've gained contentment, consistency, and enjoyment. Isn't that what fitness should be about?
Those are some of my thoughts regarding the squat and why you should program more squat movements into your wellness routine. Regardless of your goal, gender, age, movement capacity, exercise history, or experience level you can benefit from a squat variation. Your best is yet to come!