Tag Archive | Athlete

Is Your New Fitness Culture Killing You? Five Exercises to Avoid

I recently read a wonderful article entitled, CrossFit’s Dirty Little Secret, a 7 minute read that is well worth your while and honestly brings forth many of the questions that others in the fitness industry have been asking about the knowledge of the staff, background, role and safety provided to members. As with any industry, yoga included, when there is little regulation and a lot of opportunity for cash flow, people come out of the wood work with new systems and overnight trainings that really jeopardize the well being of the average person looking to get in shape. Not swayed? Well, take a look at these suggestions for what to cut out from those intense and extreme workouts….

Five Exercises to Avoid

Hard Pressed Strength Coach Emphasizes the Importance of Working Out Safely

From professional athletes to green gym goers, thousands of people find themselves injured each year when exercising.  To maximize your workout both safely and effectively, Dan Geraci M.S., Head Strength Coach at Hard Pressed, debunks the myths surrounding injury-prone practices.

“Incorrect form when lifting weights is one of the top contributors to sports-related injuries,” says Geraci.  “To prevent pulled muscles and other ailments, it is important to take age and fitness level into account as well as any neck, back or spinal issues you may have.”

Below are five exercises to avoid as well as alternative methods for a safer workout:

  1. Box Jumps:  A compound movement that works the musculature of the hip and knee joints, this method also places excessive pressure on the Achilles Tendon which can lead to a rupture or tear.  Missing the box with an uncoordinated misstep can result in a twisted ankle or scraped shins while the repeated jumps on a hard surface can cause knee pain.

o Alternative:  The leg press works these same muscle groups but can create stronger muscles without the negative impact of box jumps.  “The leg press targets the muscles around these joints as well,” says Geraci.  “This produces more explosive and higher jumps, often the reason many turn to box jumps in the first place.”

  1. Dumbbell Chest Fly:  Without a spotter or when using heavier weights, dumbbells can be difficult to control properly which can potentially lead to catastrophic muscle tears.  Furthermore, most individuals use a shortened range of motion (ROM) for chest flys, which misses the mark for the most effective portion of the exercise.

o Alternative:  Machine Chest Fly and cables can be much more effective and safe as these alternatives place you in the proper positioning to utilize a full ROM without leaving your muscles and joints vulnerable to free weight errors.

  1. Walking Lunges:  Improper form is the main problem with walking lunges as the majority of people perform them incorrectly.  “Bad form leads to increased stress on the knee and places it in a vulnerable position,” says Geraci.  “Putting excessive force on structural components of the knee such as the Patella Tendon and the Meniscus can lead to injury.”

o Alternative:  Doing stationary lunges (and having a spotter) will keep the knee in the proper position and allow you to maintain proper form while reaping all the benefits of lunges.

  1. Upright Rows:  This exercise puts the rotator cuff muscles in an extremely pinched space (referred to as the sub-acromial space).  In many individuals the Acromion Muscle is hooked or slightly hooked which leads to increased impingement.

o Alternative:  To work your traps in a similar method, use the Shrug and Pull technique.  This allows you to target the same muscles while moving the joint in a much more natural way, thus decreasing the chance of injury.

  1. BOSU/ Stability Balls:  The extremely instable platform these balls provide can lead to a myriad of injuries.  They put you in a vulnerable state while performing movements that often times lead to injury when in completely stable environments.  Contrary to popular belief, doing exercises on these balls has no functional purpose outside of training the body to better perform these exercises while on a stability ball.

o Alternative:  Perform the exercises in a stable environment rather than on the ball.  You will better target the primary muscles (i.e. chest for chest press) while not leaving your joints, muscles and tendons susceptible to injury.  Then, exercise your core muscles and abdominals separately.  “Working your chest with a chest press movement on a stability ball is a poor attempt at a two-for-one type of deal,” says Geraci.  “While killing two birds with one stone sounds good in theory, if it leads to injury you are worse off than when you started.”

About Hard Pressed:

Hard Pressed is Chicago’s premier Strength Training facility with a focus on full-body strength training.  Inspired by the collegiate-style weight rooms Head Strength Coaches Dan Geraci M.S. (University of Michigan) and Ron Israel (University of Florida) experienced at their respective NCAA athletic programs, Hard Pressed offers a streamlined workout that is effective and efficient.  The 30 minute workout is coaching intensive, consisting of a strength training regimen that combines a mix of free weights and state-of-the-art weight machines for maximum intensity and effectiveness.  With a strong concentration on training safely, the program offers a high-intensity workout that maximizes results in a safe and effective manner.  Hard Pressed is located at 219 W. Chicago Suite 600, Chicago IL 60654.  For more information, please visit us at http://hardpressed.me/ or like us on Facebook at “Hard Pressed High Intensity Workouts.”

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The Vegan Athlete Its Not a Myth You Can Do It

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I was contacted to review this book, I received no compensation and opinions expressed are given freely and are my own.

I have been a vegan for over 25 years now and I am a fitness professional, but I am still far from a Vegan Athlete.  What I appreciated most about this book was that if I had a dozen copies I would simply shove them in the hands of each and every person who ever asked me a stupid question such as these:

“Don’t you feel guilty that your kids will never get to try McNuggets??”

“How can you possibly get enough protein?”

“Aren’t you tired all the time, I couldn’t give up meat because I would be tired all the time.”

But my favorite was the “You can’t be a vegan, you’re so fat.” That I received at a yoga teacher training.  To that statement I would have used this hand book to slap the offender across the face because honestly, the meal plan given in here would not have helped my case.  I appreciate the meal suggestions given but there are no portion sizes listed so I know mine would be FAR larger than what the author intended.  Chocolate covered banana slices for dessert sound delicious and very easy to make (I have been doing these and other dipped desserts for years) but if lunch is supposed to be a baked sweet potato with maple syrup and a pinch of nutmeg – that’s all – you’ve lost my vegan vote.

Let me point out, the meals outline will have you in awesome shape, but right now I am still breastfeeding a toddler and infant (4 & 1) almost exclusively – meaning I provide the majority of their calories in addition to those needed for teaching fitness classes – this meal plan just isn’t right for me at the moment personally.

What about the rest of the book? Thank You! Thank you for taking the time to calmly write out answers to all of the questions vegans receive because after almost 3 decades I feel like a broken record and sometimes lose my patience when well meaning individuals question my eating choices. Succinctly and smartly answered questions that focus on the physical benefits of being a vegan.  Yes, I love animals. Yes, I care about animals. Yes, I wear leather at times.  I’m not perfect and I am not a vegan 100% because it is a political stance against animal cruelty.  To be honest I find PETA hypocritical since exploiting animals is heinous they should refrain from exploiting mammals such as women in their half nude ads, but I have digressed.  My point was that the authors approach this work not from the far left animal products are murder, but from the middle of the road that eating plant based is healthier.

I should receive some sort of award for reviewing Brett Stewart books, he is a co-author on this title with Ben Greene and as with all of his books I was very pleased with the exercise section.  No, I still can’t do 50 Pullups but I probably could if I stuck with his program.  The man knows how to get results, he provides clear and concise, simple exercises that I do with my clients as a personal trainer and gives the reader great reference photos.

“The Vegan Athlete,” a fitness guide combining dietary know-how with a full body workout program that will build muscle and maximize energy is perfect for someone transitioning into veganism, as well as vegans who want to integrate a fitness program into their lives, as it covers the benefits of plant-based diet, nutritional needs (i.e. amino acids, vitamins), strength-building workouts, and two dozen protein-packed recipes.
“The Vegan Athlete” will help you nourish your body from head to toe with good food and exercise and ends with a wonderful reference section to find more vegan support.

If you are trying to get yourself or your family healthier this summer, this is a great place to start!

Kid Friendly Chocolate Covered Bananas

  • banana
  • chocolate chips / bar
  • optional chopped nuts, crushed cookies
  • optional cake pop or popsicle stick

I own an electric chocolate melter so I dump a bag of vegan chips into, but you can use a double boiler (if you avoid the microwave), or melt in the microwave.

Make it fancy by inserting a stick lengthwise in the banana, then dip in chocolate, roll in optional topping. For finger food, dip sliced banana “circles” in chocolate.  Be sure to set aside on plastic wrap or wax paper and place in the fridge to set, otherwise the chocolate will stick to the plate and be hard to get up without breaking. On plastic or paper, it simply peels off.