7 Fitness Gifts That Your Love Will LOVE This Valentines Day

Fitness Valentines Day Swolemate

It’s one week until Valentine’s day. Do you know what you’re giving your swolemate yet? These 7 Fitness Gifts will win over your workout partners heart faster than you can say “Gym Time!”


1. The “You’re the VEST person I know” Weighted Vest.

If you’re really invested to your relationship, show your love by getting your gym buddy a Weighed Vest. Your swolemate brings out the vest in you by pushing you to achieve your workout goals. Show your appreciation by pushing them to achieve relationship goals!

Weighted Vest Valentines Day Fitness Gifts

Buy the COREFX Pro Adjustable Weighted Vest here.

 

2. The “I would still hug you after HOT YOGA” Mat.

Your swolemate is HOT. What better way to show it than by giving them this Hot Yoga Mat? Yoga to try this gift idea! After giving your yoga-loving-lover this mat, their new favourite pose will be hugging you!

Hot Yoga Valentines Day Fitness Gifts

Buy the Concorde Yoga Hot Yoga Mat here.

 

3. The “You make my heart RACE” Agility Ladder.

Your gym buddy will be quick to kiss you after opening this gift. Even quicker than their feet will be when they’re training with their new Agility Ladder! Put the love songs on shuffle while you and your workout buddy practice shuffle drills!

Agility Ladder Valentines Day Fitness Gifts

Buy the Concorde Agility Ladder here.

 

4. The “Love at first SET” Kettlebell.

Get your relationship into the swing of things with this gift idea! Your swolemate snatched your heart, now they can snatch their Kettlebell too!

Kettle Bell Valentines Day Fitness Gifts

Buy the 360 Athletics Kettle bell here.

 

5. The “You’ve been RUNNING through my mind” gear.

This Running Specific Gear will help MOVE your relationship into the right direction. Rock their socks off with the Balega lineup! You will never waist a moment with your running partner again with the large selection of FuelBelt items.

Running Socks FuelBelt Valentines Day Fitness Gifts

Buy the Balega Socks here and the FuelBelt Waistpack here.

 

6. The “I’m WHEY too into you” Shaker Cup

You and your bae make a great mix, but it’s time for you to shake up your love life. This smooth gift is perfect for any fitness enthusiast and love interest.

Shaker Cup Valentines Day Fitness Gifts

Buy the COREFX Shaker Cup here.

 

7. The “I GLOVE you” Lifting Gloves

We’ve gotta hand it to you, you two make a pretty nice pair. Give your swolemate some hands worth holding with these amazing Harbinger Gloves. And remember, no glove, no love.

Harbinger Gloves Valentines Day Fitness Gifts

Buy Harbinger Gloves here.

 

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue. After This Rep, Can I Lift With You?

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CARDIO AND MUSCLE GROWTH: FRIENDS OR FOES?

CARDIO AND MUSCLE GROWTH: FRIENDS OR FOES?

I’ve been told that if my goal is to gain muscle then I should avoid cardiovascular exercise because you will “burn off protein,” which will limit my muscle size (hypertrophy) gains.

Here’s the truth….

Intense cardiovascular activity, coupled with inadequate carbohydrate intake can have an impact on protein usage (amino acid synthesis) and muscle size gains.Generally, the concern about losing muscle mass (i.e., burning off protein) is of a concern to body builders who try to optimize symmetry, muscle definition and size. In this case (body builder), moderate cardiovascular activity will maintain heart health and control body fat gain, without significantly compromising size gains.

Closeup of muscular sports man measuring chest with tape measure isolated over gray background. Bodybuilder chest gain concept.

However, if you are not a competitive body builder, this will not be a huge concern. Because the body needs sugar (carbohydrate) for brain and nervous system functions, and muscle contraction, if you don’t have enough stores of circulating blood glucose (sugar) in your blood, the body will break down protein in a process called gluconeogenesis to get the sugar it needs for bodily functions.

Sometimes, you just have to stop listening to the stuff that never goes away, and key in on the truth! Here’s to good training!

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Be sure to check out all of our blogs and bi-weekly posts. You’ll always find my favorite progressions, drills, coaching philosophy and trending topics here.

Douglas Brooks, MS, Exercise Physiologist, Director of Education for COREFX, is a former-Ironman® triathlete and currently directs Athlete Conditioning for Sugar Bowl Ski Academy where he works with elite junior and professional athletes. Douglas was inducted into the U.S. National Fitness Hall of Fame and has been honored by Can-Fit-Pro as the International Presenter of the Year. Coach Brooks is the author of numerous training books, and most recently, was the recipient of the IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Award.

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4 GLUTE EXERCISES YOU’VE PROBABLY NEVER DONE

4-Glute Exercises You’ve Probably Never Done

Everyone wants to hammer his/her glutes. Here’s how “the exercises” and here’s why “the science.” Below are 4 exercises that will get your glutes fired up that you may have never done, or maybe, not done right. My favorite, the Banded COREFX Deadlift!

The Science

Your glutes are unusual from an architectural/anatomical perspective. They have a large cross-sectional area, and are relatively ‘long’ from attachment (tailbone) to insertion points.

Functionality, based partially on this anatomy, would indicate that the glutes can produce high levels of force at low speeds, utilizing a small range of motion (ROM) and low force production at high speeds through a greater ROM. Because the glutes have a mix of slow and fast twitch fibers, high and low reps, as well as fast and slow velocities work to train the gluteus maximus. The take home message here is that you should train the glutes both ways to fully develop capacity. It is also important to get proper technique down when doing these exercises.

Finally, be sure to align the goal of the training with the desired outcome (e.g., hypertrophy, power, weight loss, fitness, performance).

Glute Activation Facts:

In a comprehensive review of literature, Chris Beardsley cites muscle activation studies (EMG) to support the why behind the “do.” If you don’t love science, you may pass the educational pain, and go directly to the exercises.

1. Gluteus maximus EMG amplitude is higher when muscle fibers are shorter (in full hip extension compared to flexion, in hip abduction compared to neutral, in hip external rotation compared to neutral, and in posterior pelvic tilt compared to anterior pelvic tilt). Exercises producing the greatest gluteus maximus EMG amplitude will likely be those that are hardest when the muscle is short (pull-throughs, glute bridges, hip thrusts, horizontal back extensions).

Key Point: Whether you’re squatting, deadlifting or performing hip thrusts, this is one of the reasons I am always cuing, “Get your hips through!” — which indicates that the hips should be fully extended at end ROM.

2. Gluteus maximus EMG amplitude is lower in combined hip extension and knee extension movements when compared to isolated hip extension movements. The most effective exercises for the gluteus maximus likely involve hip extension without simultaneous knee extension, but this remains to be confirmed by future studies. One is not better, but we can certainly say they are different. Do both!

Exercises:

1. Olympic (Oly) Bar Hip Lift

At the top of the movement, as the hips are lifted, fully extend the hips. Use less load if necessary to attain full hip extension.

Following are 3 important tips that ensure optimal execution at the top of the Oly Bar Hip Lift to augment glute and core activation:

  1. Keep the torso flat (not arched)
  2. Maintain a slight neck flexion (not neutral)
  3. Establish a forward eye gaze (not upward)
  4. Maintain a slight posterior pelvic tilt by tightening your glutes; do not let your ribs flair; avoid excessive lumbar lordosis/excessive arching of the low back.
  5. Maintain these key performance tips through the movement and you’ll also experience less potential for low back discomfort or injury.Oly Bar Hip Lift

Note that the hip lift can also be done by anchoring bands across the hips. This is my favorite variation since the load can be maximized at the top of the movement, because of the increasing stretch/load provided by the band.

FYI, one study showed that the gluteus maximus EMG amplitude is higher in the barbell hip lift than in the barbell back squat, when using the same relative loads in resistance-trained females. Among hip thrust variations, the standard barbell hip lift produces the highest mean and peak gluteus maximus EMG amplitudes.

Bottom line, it’s a great exercise and takes the knee out of the equation to target the glutes more effectively and is a blessing for those who want to train the hips but have knee issues that prevent them from aggressively training the glutes by flexing/extending the knee in compound exercises (e.g., squats, leg presses).

2. Uni-lateral Oly Bar Hip Lift

Be sure to follow all of the key tips found under the Oly Bar Hip Lift (bilateral). Position the supporting leg to an optimal point of balance. The extremely difficult Unilateral Oly Bar Hip Lift variation can also be done by supporting the lifted leg (non supporting) on a box. Adding an additional point of contact regresses the exercise, making it less difficult to execute. Difficulty can be increased in either variation by simply increasing the load/resistance. At the top of the movement, as the hips are lifted, fully extend the hips. Use less load if necessary to attain full hip extension.

FYI…Studies have shown that gluteus maximus EMG amplitude is lower than quadriceps EMG amplitude in the back squat, suggesting that the squat is primarily a quadriceps exercise. A wider squat stance can help to increase gluteus maximus EMG amplitude, as does sitting back. Despite claims to the contrary, deeper squats do not increase gluteus maximus EMG amplitude when using the same relative load, though risk of injury might go up for some people, dependent on stabilizing capability, mobility and body type. This is why I love hip lifts!

Note: this same movement can be performed by placing a COREFX Strength Band across the hips and anchoring at both ends.

3. Banded Deadlift with COREFX Strength Band

Why I love this exercise! Generally, for example, the top of a deadlift movement, when the hips should be fully extended, is not effectively resisted when using free weights. By adding a banded load–stabilization requirements are increased, and the movement is fully resisted through the final and full degrees of hip extension. This exercise rates 5-star for sure!

Drop the band over the bar, set your hands at normal deadlift width, load the hamstrings by pushing back/shins vertical; keep the back set neutral and avoid rolling the shoulders in throughout the lift. The motion can be repeated from the floor, or from knee height and can be done slow or fast. Always work slow and controlled when pulling the bar from the ground to knee height. If you want to work quickly, let the bar clear the knees and then explode to full hip extension. See video clip progression. Be sure to “lock out” (contract) with the glutes and keep the ribs from flaring (contract the anterior core) at the top of the movement. Avoid any excessive movement of the shoulders posterior or hips anterior. Don’t lose your core brace and avoid hyperextending the low back by activating the glutes.

4. Box Step Up with COREFX Weighted Vest

What most people don’t do well on this version of the box step up is to establish a high degree of knee and hip flexion, and an upright stance (shoulders over hips). Adding external load using a weight vest allows you to increase time under tension/load, as well as using the box to create an effective degree of flexion at the knee and hip (ROM and mobility). Both variables, load and mobility, can help target the desired training outcome.

Also, note that the last few reps of the exercise demonstrate an optional increased movement speed by adding a power component where the athlete drives (propulsion) off of the box, into a controlled landing/lowering phase. Maintain an upright stance throughout the repetitions.

Check out this quick video that includes all 4 glute exercises listed above!

 

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Be sure to check out all of our blogs and bi-weekly posts. You’ll always find my favorite progressions, drills, coaching philosophy and trending topics here.

Douglas Brooks, MS, Exercise Physiologist, Director of Education for COREFX, is a former-Ironman® triathlete and currently directs Athlete Conditioning for Sugar Bowl Ski Academy where he works with elite junior and professional athletes. Douglas was inducted into the U.S. National Fitness Hall of Fame and has been honored by Can-Fit-Pro as the International Presenter of the Year. Coach Brooks is the author of numerous training books, and most recently, was the recipient of the IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Award.

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TOP 3 NUTRITION FACTS VS. FICTION

TOP 3 NUTRITION FACTS VS. FICTION

We all know that you can NOT out train a bad diet! Proper nutrition is critical to the success of personal training clients, athletes, group fitness participants, and for that matter, to any fitness enthusiasts’ training program. Following is a science-based review of solid and practical nutritional guidelines that is focused in three areas related to nutrient intake and its impact on performance improvement.

Key Point: “Athletes think performance starts with training, but it starts with fuel.”

Nancy Clark, MS, RD,–Sports Nutritionist


Here are the top 3 nutrition concepts that my athletes, clients and coaches are always talking about!

These include: Hydration, Nutrient Timing and Protein Intake.

Hydration:

FACTS: Water is a prime nutrient in any athlete’s nutritional program. During a workout, consume about 3-4 ounces of water every 15- to 20-minutes. The stomach cannot empty more than 16-ounces of fluid per hour. Thirst is an indicator of dehydration. Therefore, drink before you are thirsty. Create a “hydration habit” that follows these recommendations.

Research supports the consumption of electrolyte-and-carbohydrate drinks to improve aerobic performance and other activity lasting more than one hour. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines for optimal refueling and hydration are based on the intensity and duration of the activity being performed, as well as the weather conditions. ACSM suggests that sports drinks are beneficial when the activity exceeds one hour, is very strenuous, and/or induces excess sweat loss. Several hours before and immediately after activity, drinking water is recommended to ensure optimal hydration. In addition, some sodium should be consumed (via snack or meal) to help stimulate thirst and retain fluid. Sports drinks can provide some of these benefits, but other snack and water/fluid combinations can be more cost-efficient and equally or more effective.

During strength and power workouts lasting around an hour, water should be sufficient or a very dilute sports drink, which would be the equivalent of 50 calories of carbohydrate (12-13 grams) per 20-ounces of water, or about 20 calories of carb per 8-ounces. Use these guidelines when mixing your own powder into water and read labels when purchasing sports drinks.

Key Point: Research indicates that cool and flavored water, or diluted sports drinks, enhance fluid intake. Identify what works for, and motivates, you to hydrate!

Nutrient timing: 

Nutrient intake aligns well with nutrient timing so let’s define “timing.” Nutrient timing (when, what and why) is important for sustained performance over time, as well as to optimize training effect, recovery and well-being. Overall energy and how an athlete feels on a day-to-day basis, or during a session, is greatly influenced by what nutrients our athletes and clients eat and drink before, during and after workouts.

Nutrient Timing Before WorkoutsThe International Society of Sports Nutrition provides a position stand regarding nutrient timing, which is largely dependent upon the type of activity being performed. In general, they recommend a meal with carbohydrates more than one hour (but no later) prior to the workout. A mix of carbohydrate and protein works well. Keep the ratio 3:1 in favor of carbohydrate.

Nutrient Timing After Workouts…Generally, post-workout nutrition has three specific purposes:

  1. Replenish energy stores (carb dominant)
  2. Increase muscle size and/or muscle quality, which leads to power increases (protein dominant)
  3. Repair any damage caused by the workout (protein dominant)

Key Message: Use these guidelines to help you identify what fuels your body optimally uses pre-workout! You have to experiment to dial in the right combination!

 

 

Protein Intake:

For post-exercise nutrition, a snack of carbohydrates (50-60g = 200-240 calories of carbohydrate) and protein (12-15g; 20g is the outer limit; 12-20g of protein = 48-80 calories) is recommended. This is roughly a 3:1 carb:protein ratio and represents a total calorie intake range for carb and protein between 250-320 calories. Smoothies, protein drinks with milk, bagels with peanut butter, almond/sunflower seed butter, bananas, yogurt or a properly designed energy bar (read the label) are examples of fuel sources that could cover your post workout nutrition needs.

Key Point: Optimal intake should occur within a 45 minute window after exercise to optimize muscle repair, recovery, and growth, as well as to replenish carbohydrate/glycogen stores in the muscle and liver to fuel future workouts. Intake after this window of opportunity has passed is still beneficial, but not optimal. **Note: Recent research indicates that this window of opportunity might be much larger (up to 18 hours). So, the take home message is “don’t freak out” if you can’t get your intake within this oft cited 30-45 minute window.

You should eat a whole food meal that meets these requirements after exercise. However, if a whole food meal isn’t available immediately after exercise, consuming a liquid form of nutrition can accelerate recovery because it can be digested and absorbed rapidly. Protein shakes or energy bars are convenient when you are training hard and need to hydrate and replenish between meals or when a whole food meal is not immediately available.

Key Point: Treat nutrient timing and intake as a job that needs to get done, every day! It is part of your routine. Form the habit!

If sufficient carbohydrate is not taken in, the body will break down protein (muscle) to produce the glucose it is not getting in a process called gluconeogenesis. Not good! Also, your brain and heart need glucose 24/7. Do not be carbohydrate phobic. But, do eat healthy and more complex carbohydrates whenever you can. High-level athletes fuel their engines with a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and fats.

CAUTION: Avoid overconsumption of calorie-dense sports drinks (e.g., 200-250 calories per 12-20-ounces of liquid). Consider personal health concerns that include diabetes, weight management and optimal nutrition. If you are not exercising strenuously and depleting large amounts of nutrients and water, these calorically dense drinks can add excess sugar and salt/sodium to your diet. Many of the nutrients lost during exercise can be replenished through a regular, well-balanced diet—which can also be a much less expensive option when compared to supplements or other commercially available options.

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Be sure to check out all of our blogs and bi-weekly posts. You’ll always find my favorite progressions, drills, coaching philosophy and trending topics here.

Douglas Brooks, MS, Exercise Physiologist, Director of Education for COREFX, is a former-Ironman® triathlete and currently directs Athlete Conditioning for Sugar Bowl Ski Academy where he works with elite junior and professional athletes. Douglas was inducted into the U.S. National Fitness Hall of Fame and has been honored by Can-Fit-Pro as the International Presenter of the Year. Coach Brooks is the author of numerous training books, and most recently, was the recipient of the IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Award.

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CARDIO OR WEIGHTS..WHICH COMES FIRST?

CARDIO OR WEIGHTS..WHICH COMES FIRST?

Let’s set the record straight..when deciding what component of exercise to do first, it’s not really an issue of cardiovascular/interval training or resistance training exercise standing-off against one another!

This idea never seems to go away either. If you’ve heard doing resistance training exercises before cardiovascular workouts will help you to exclusively burn fat, or more of it, it’s NOT true.

Some of the myth and confusion seems to have stemmed from an idea that is FALSE, but goes something like this “if you do your strength training first you’ll deplete your glycogen (sugar) stores, and if you follow this with aerobic training, you’ll burn only fat.” As stated, this is NOT true! Try as you may, but you’ll never deplete your glycogen stores in a normal workout…and ironically, you couldn’t burn fat if you didn’t have carbohydrate available.

This myth brings up the whole issue of “fat-burning” and fuel substrate (carb/fat) usage during exercise. Bottom line: This misunderstanding of physiology is way off base and inaccurate. Myths like these are not magic bullets and often derail sensible training programs. Just to be clear, intensity of effort determines fuel (carb/fat) usage. Period.

To Recap: Independent of what activity is performed first, the intensity of effort or how hard you work represents the overriding factor that determines how much fat or carbohydrate you burn. And anyway, the key to health and fat-loss has more to do with the total number of calories you use or burn. In other words, scientists don’t care whether the calorie comes from fat or carbohydrate, as it pertains to weight loss. So, arguing about carbohydrate vs. fat burning exercise is another related myth that won’t go away. The discussion is simply not important. Total calories expended is the key! Let’s keep it simple!

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Be sure to check out all of our blogs and bi-weekly posts. You’ll always find my favorite progressions, drills, coaching philosophy and trending topics here.

Douglas Brooks, MS, Exercise Physiologist, Director of Education for COREFX, is a former-Ironman® triathlete and currently directs Athlete Conditioning for Sugar Bowl Ski Academy where he works with elite junior and professional athletes. Douglas was inducted into the U.S. National Fitness Hall of Fame and has been honored by Can-Fit-Pro as the International Presenter of the Year. Coach Brooks is the author of numerous training books, and most recently, was the recipient of the IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Award.

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