All posts by Elsbeth

Do you have fitness goals?

Everyone needs goals.  We can get by without them for a while, but if we want to really succeed, we need goals.  This is as true with our workouts as it is with our careers and our lives.

This became suddenly obvious to me about a week ago.  Over the last six months or so I’ve worked out less than I have in about 15 years. Part of the problem is that I’ve been working too much lately. But I’ve been through bouts of working too much before without compromising workouts because being strong and fit has always been a priority for me.  Suddenly last week I figured out why working out dropped so far down the to-do list: I have no workout goals. I mean I still want to be fit and strong.  But that doesn’t seem to be enough to get me to the gym often enough; or get me to stay away from those delicious Cheetos.

In the past I’ve always had specific goals that were tied to things that really mattered to me.  They have been varied, but all have been very important to me: Continue reading Do you have fitness goals?

3 meals that pack a full day’s “nutrition”

I call them FDC meals. That is, Full Day’s Calories (FDC) meals. I suspect there are many meals that fit the bill, but here are 3 that I’ve eaten. Often after I eat out, I come home and check the nutritional data. Call it a hobby. Strangely I was a bit surprised at some of the numbers here. I have presented them here as a single day’s “three square meals”. Imagine if you at the following in one day:

Continue reading 3 meals that pack a full day’s “nutrition”

Dynamic warmup for skiing

If you’ve ever wondered whether you should do some sort of warmup before a day of skiing, I can provide a simple answer for you: Yes. What you should do is a bit more of a challenge. To help with this, I have created a video that shows a set of 9 activation exercises and dynamic stretches that will help to prepare your body for the ski day ahead.

Each exercise can be done on snow, in your boots, and the only equipment you need is your poles. The warm-up includes: Continue reading Dynamic warmup for skiing

Am I Fit Enough to Play?

When I ask someone if they work out, a common response I hear is “Yes, I run three times a week”, or “yes, I play hockey twice a week and go skiing on weekends”, or “I play ultimate four times a week”. The list of options that people provide after the “yes” is endless, but more often than not, it does not include actual working out.

Participating in sports is good for you on so many levels: physically, socially, intellectually, and even emotionally. But can playing sports be deemed working out? Can you play sports to get in shape?

Continue reading Am I Fit Enough to Play?

The purity of sport: Shinny hockey

It was a cold winter Tuesday evening in Ottawa and I was eager to get a bit of exercise – It was too soon since my last workout to hit the gym, maybe skiing? I have a night season pass and the hill is only 20 minutes away, but we’ve had a few days of rain followed by a deep freeze – not exactly ideal conditions. Maybe a skate on the canal (Ottawa has a 7km long canal that turns into the World’s largest skating rink each winter)? And then suddenly I remembered the boards at the Plant Recreation Centre. Shinny hockey. The gem of winter. Continue reading The purity of sport: Shinny hockey

Shoveling as a workout?

I for one complained about the lack of snow in November. I’ll admit it.  And while I am super happy to be able to ski now, I can’t say I look forward to the driving and walking related issues that snow brings.

For many, shoveling is the big frustration.  It’s hard work if you have a big driveway.  I’m not sure if this is a surprise to anyone, but emergency rooms fill up after big snow falls.  Okay, I’m sure that doesn’t surprise anyone.  Many of the visits are from falling injuries – slippery sidewalks, ski or snowboard tumbles, and of course toboggan injuries.  But did you know there is also an increase in cardiac incidents? Continue reading Shoveling as a workout?

At The Gym: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Even though I am a trainer and have the equipment to work out at home or at the sports therapy clinic where I work, I still prefer going to the gym.

It’s partly a social thing I suppose – I’m not a big chatter at the gym, but I do have the people I say hi to or nod to. Strangely it’s also partly being able to tune out. I love to put my mp3 player on and enjoy some loud tunes. Aside from at the gym and in the car, I don’t listen to a lot of music. Maybe I need to do that more. ..

Continue reading At The Gym: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Q&A: Hamstring and glute exercises

Q&A: Glute and hamstring exercises

Q: I have some questions about glute and hamstring exercises. I find these hard groups to target. For example, I’ve read so many great things about deadlifts…but my problem is that I can’t hold enough weight to get a good workout – my hands give out.

A: There are a few options to consider.

1. If you have small hands, consider getting a women’s bar. Regular bars have a diameter of 28.5 mm, while a women’s bar has a diameter of 25 mm. That doesn’t sound like much, but I learned many years ago that it really is. I had a client who is a tremendous athlete and was always eager to “give ‘er” at the gym . Except with deadlifts. In fact she told me one day that she didn’t like deadlifts. I was floored. And I knew I had to right this wrong. After chatting for a few minutes, she mentioned that she was having a hard time holding the bar. She has small hands, as many people do – especially women.  That afternoon I ordered a Bella bar from Rogue. The day the new bar arrived, the client did her first set of deadlifts – with the new bar – and exclaimed: “I love deadlifts!” And all was right with the world again.

2. Another approach is to use an alternating grip (one hand faces your body; the other faces away from your body). With both hands facing the same way (usually palms facing the body), the bar will want to roll a bit, which makes it harder to hold.  Alternating grip addresses this, making it possible to lift more.

3: Alternating grip is probably the most widely used deadlift grip, although I’m not a fan because it puts uneven stress on your shoulders. I actually like straps for deadlifts. There are many out there who suggest you shouldn’t use straps because you should just work on your grip strength. Grip strength is important, and you should work on it. Deadlifts are an amazing exercise that work the biggest muscles in your body, so why would we let the little hand and wrist muscles be the limitation in how strong our glutes, hamstrings and back get? Use straps and find other ways to train your grip.

4. There are of lots of other great options for glutes and hamstrings:

  • Single leg versions of the Romanian deadlift are great – takes a bit of doing to get the balance, but because it’s one leg doing the work, you can get more involvement with the same amount of weight. These are typically done with dumbbells (one or two).You can also do cable machine versions of this.
  • For glutes there’s a great exercise called a shoulder elevated hip lift. You can do it on 2 legs, on one, and can progress to adding weight.
  • Stability ball leg curls are great for hamstrings. Or you can do a slideboard leg-curl to targets the glutes more than the hamstrings. If you don’t have a slideboard, there a couple of options: I have found that a krazy karpet works well – take your shoes off and do leg curls with socks only. Or you can pick up pieces of that material used under furniture to keep from scratching floors and put those under your shoes if you’re on hardwood.

If you’re interested in some more details about glute training, give this article, Is it a glute bridge, a read.

Are you a personal trainer or otherwise an exercise nerd? Interested in learning about exercise form and programming?

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Introducing your new best friend, Foam Roll

“Foam rolling is great, we have quickly become best friends” was a recent response from a client when I inquired about his progress with some foam roll exercises that I had recommended.

I can honestly say that I feel the same way.  I didn’t feel that way initially mind you – we really had to work through some painful spots, but thankfully we were both willing to keep working at them, and soon enough it was smooth rolling.  And that lead to happy running and skiing for me.  But after a while the old white foam roller started to feel a little soft.  Then one day, my wandering eye got the best of me – I just couldn’t resist that fancy blue foam roller, standing in the corner of the fitness store, so hard and rugged.  Who could resist? Continue reading Introducing your new best friend, Foam Roll