Tag Archive | workout

#ABXDVD Was not For Me

As per the FTC’s “Clear and Conspicuous Requirement” I received a copy of this DVD per a blogging review site. I was not compensated in any way other than the free DVD for this review.

I have been in the fitness industry for over a decade, run a successful Chicago area fitness studio and have been a paid presenter in the fitness industry. During this time I have blogged about fitness, health and wellness, reviewed DVDs and other fitness items, always honestly and without abash. I have read some of the reviews that were in the 1-2 star range for this product and was dismayed to see that the company took a negative stance against people honestly giving their feedback about a product; growth comes from honest critique not glowing praise even if your company’s philosophy is self-acceptance – probably more so because you shouldn’t need bloggers to affirm you.

Having put off this review so long that I keep receiving contact from the company I can no longer shirk the duty. The short and sweet, so as to not get into a debate with anyone representing ABX is, I personally did not like the DVD. I personally did not connect to the video. I personally did not like the routine. I personally did not like the video staging including the personalities. I would not personally recommend the DVD to any client I can think of; however, I personally believe that the DVD might have an appeal, as another reviewer on Amazon aptly pointed out, to males for viewing pleasure.

Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy

I absolutely love this book for its illustrations, give me an anatomy book hands down any day and I am glued to the pages.  This book is broken down into specific muscle categories with clearly verbalized to the point execution notes, a meter for level of difficulty, variations and specific muscles targeted (yes the category may be chest, but there is more than one muscle in there!).

image SO how will this book play out to the fitness neophyte?  Probably not too handy.  There are several brief tables in the back that breakdown some sample push-pull, split or whole body workouts, and if you aren’t sure what some of those mean…that is kind of my point. This is another great book for the fitness professional, someone working with a fitness professional, or anyone looking for more information on anatomy and how muscles work.

While Contreras believes all strength trainees should master their own bodyweight as a form of resistance training before moving on to free weights and other training systems, he is adamant that a person can maintain muscularity and fitness solely by performing bodyweight exercises. “As you progress to more difficult variations and increase the number of repetitions you perform with the various exercises, you will continuously challenge your neuromuscular system,” he explains. “Your body will respond by synthesizing more protein and laying down more muscle tissue. In essence, your body adapts by building a bigger engine.”

Featuring drawings, instructions, and descriptions of 156 innovative and unique exercises, along with a rating system to help you determine the level of difficulty of each exercise, Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy goes far beyond standard pull-ups, push-ups, and squats to work every muscle in the body. Contreras, who maintains a popular blog at BretContreras.com, also has instructions on creating a customized, equipment-free workout program for building a stronger, more toned physique.

I received a copy of this book for review, I was not compensated in any way and the opinions expressed are freely given and my own.

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.”

7 Weeks to Getting Ripped and 7 Weeks to 50 Pull Ups

image Two new books on the market claim success in seven weeks, lucky sevens have it this year possibly. As always there was no compensation for this review and the opinions expressed are freely my own.

I have not yet completed the 7 weeks to Getting Ripped or 7 Weeks to 50 Pull Ups plan and to be honest the pull up plan scares me, its all pull ups! The self evaluation test was a fail, even at 6 weeks postpartum I remember I couldn’t do a pull up to save my life before being pregnant. So where do pull up failures start? Page 101 the prep level program which gladly allows for the lat pull down machine, something I know I can do.  I have enlisted my husband who can do about 10-12 pull ups consecutively to join me in this pullupathon as soon as my abs are healed from their split, so check back to see how the pull ups progress.

On to 7 Weeks to Getting Ripped. I love that the book starts with Q&A just like 7 image Weeks to 50 Pull Ups – and hits on hot topics such as women getting ripped and bulky – not going to happen, its even difficult for men to achieve- balanced nutrition, avoiding injury and resting. Shocker of shockers though Level I week 2…Pull-Ups!!

Yes, I think I will have to actually complete these two books in this actual order or fail miserably at getting ripped.  Author Brett Stewart touts this as the ultimate weight free, gym free training program – however there was a medicine ball and I am not sure for either book where you can do chin ups and pull ups in the home without installing a bar.  Yes, technically you could hit a park, but the parks near me do not have chin up bars and I can’t reach the cross section on the swing set – though my 6’6 husband can easily jump up and grab hold to do pull-ups. I remember old school parks had chin up bars, maybe somewhere in my town I can find one….

Back to the book, it definitely hits hard – it is dry and cut, to the point and you most definitely will get ripped. The exercises are simple and effective, but maybe not too fun. If you are like me and get bored easily with repetitions and prefer more movement this might not be a good fit for you.  By more movement I mean group fitness classes. Since these are how I earn a living I have come to prefer them to the hours I used to spend in the gym.  Many of my Power Yoga classes employ the same exercises shown in the 7 Weeks to Getting Ripped book, but in a flowing sequence – which is why I know this book will work, I have seen the results in my students using similar exercises over time.

If you want to avoid the high cost of gym membership, need a book that is simple to read, provides detailed breakdown of exercises and crisp photos – these are your books.

“7 Weeks to 50 Pull-Ups: Strengthen and Sculpt Your Arms, Shoulders, Back and Abs by Training to Do 50 Consecutive Pull-Ups” ($14.95)
The go-to resource for strength-building.

“7 Weeks to Getting Ripped: The Ultimate Weight-Free, Gym-Free Training Program” (January 2012, $15.95)
More than 100 exercises and 250 instructional photos that will transform your body – no gym required.

I received no compensation for this review, the opinions expressed are my own and given freely.

Get Yourself into a Pool When You Are Pregnant

I got home from a long stop at my brother’s house where Christopher attempted to fix his computer problem, turned out not to be Facebook Virus or porn virus related, it was a Comcast issue.  Alex got a chance to play with the Wii, unfortunately it involved a great deal of sitting for me – to which my  brother commented on my “cankles”  so I tried a bath and electrolyte water when I got home, 4 hours ago.  I pressed my thumb on my calf for 5 seconds, grabbed the camera and photographed the 1.5 inch deep impression that takes about a minute to fill back up.  Now, I am not a skinny lass, but my legs are literally twice their normal size.



<——- That dark spot is the dent in my leg.

Here I am the

other night having labor pains at the pool, I really thought this

was it so I wanted a photo ———>

Tonight we hit the pool, again I went 45 minutes with squats and lunges across the length of the pool with water weights – doing upright rows, lat raises, front raises, triceps pull downs, biceps curls, hammer curls and pec flyes.

Then just floated around with hubby having mild contractions – well I had the contractions, he just held my hands. I highly recommend water workouts to pregnant women, especially as you get further along and land based weight training becomes more difficult.  The water no only helps relieve swelling, it is relaxing, provides a weightless feeling and of course has its own healing properties. Again, I started draining the minute I hit the locker room.