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. ..
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.
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“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→
Millions of North Americans are trapped in some stage of the weight loss cycle:
- Thinking about dieting
- Buying into a diet book/program
- Giving up on the diet
- Feeling bad about themselves for giving up
- Gaining weight
- Thinking about dieting…
Some people actually succeed and make the necessary and sustainable changes that lead to a new and healthy life. Unfortunately, most are stuck in some stage of that cycle.
You book a great week-long ski vacation somewhere out west. Maybe Heavenly? Lake Louise? Whistler? You can’t stop thinking about knee deep powder, and 3,000+ vertical feet, and runs that take half an hour to ski down. Then you start thinking about that, and you remember the last ski vacation you took:
Your legs were tired by lunchtime on the first day;
You woke up on day 2 and they felt like cement pillars but you pushed through.
The post will primarily address whether and how much we should bend, extend and rotate our backs.
Dr. McGill has lectured and written extensively on why flexion is bad for our backs, and yet what exercise does your physical therapist give you to address your low back pain? Crunches! Somehow in the last 20 years it has become a universal truth that situps are bad but crunches are good. Take a look at these two photos. Continue reading Low back pain redux→
I had the pleasure of spending two days at a Dr. Stuart McGill seminar about “Building the Ultimate Back”. Dr. McGill is a spine biomechanist at the University of Waterloo, an internationally renowned speaker about low back dysfunction, an equally renowned clinician, and the author of Low back Disorders and Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance.
Because Dr. McGill covered so much amazing information, and because back function is such an important topic, I have split this into three articles. This first article provides what I view as the 4 basic points he addressed.
Time Magazine recently published an article that concluded exercise does not help with weight loss. That’s’ not entirely true, but nor is it entirely false: When it comes to weight loss, food is a bigger factor than exercise.
I am not saying don’t exercise. Quite the opposite. Exercise is crucial to living a long and happy life. If done properly, it can improve your mood, reduce back pain, increase self-esteem, improve your heart health, and help you to maintain strong bones and muscles as you age so that you can be one of those people who are still skiing and running in their 80s. I know I want to be one of those people.
Let’s not forget nutrition though. One of the most renowned experts in the field of sports nutrition is Dr. John Berardi, who has done great work in helping us understand the importance of what and when we should eat.
I recently talked to someone who gets recurrent low back pain. I tried to engage them in a conversation about strength and stability training, but was politely brushed off with a “I know what I need to do – I need to strengthen my abs”. A while later, I wished I had made one quick suggestion: “stretch your hip flexors”