Metabolism or Mentality?

It’s been said to death, “you have to workout in the morning, it kick starts your metabolism”. This is true. Being active early in the morning does get your body working and burning calories right away. However, does this mean that it’s a waste of time to exercise in the evening? Absolutely not! A few years ago had the pleasure of working with a number of people in a group setting with the goal of weight loss. In a particular scenario, they were all given a very similar nutrition plan to follow. As a rule, the clients who attended the morning classes saw better “results” than the clients who worked out in the evening, (ie weight loss, see my blog “when will I see results” for more on this topic). I have seen the disappointment in the eyes of clients who are unable to workout in the morning when they hear this. I would like to offer another reason for the success of the morning trainers that can be employed by evening exercisers to aid in their success.

Perhaps rather than focusing on the boost to the metabolism that morning exercisers see, the focus should lie with the mentality that they leave the gym with. If you drag yourself out of bed at 5 am to make it for a 5:30 am workout, you are more inclined to first, eat breakfast because you start off your day with a workout and will probably be hungry. You will also most likely not want to waste your hard work from that morning so your choice at lunch will be better. Once dinner time rolls around, again you will make better decisions because you have spent the whole day with health and fitness on your mind. Now if you put yourself into the mentality of a person who gets up at “normal” time, 6-8 am, goes to work all day, comes home and changes, maybe eats and then goes to the gym or fitness class, it is much easier to have self talk that sounds like, “I’m going to workout tonight, I can eat this”, “I’ll just have to work extra hard tonight to make up for this”. If fat loss is your goal, nutrition is 80% of the battle. I’ll say that again, if your goal is fat loss, nutrition is 80% of the battle. If you are not training in the morning it is much easier to skip breakfast, strike one. If you are not starting your day off with health and fitness being a focus, your choices at lunch or throughout are more likely going to be poor, strike two. And if you are planning on working out in the evening, this makes dinner choices more difficult and may lead you to making the “easy” choice, which is not always the best choice, strike three. There you go, three strikes before you even step in to the gym and your first bead of sweat hits the floor.

The ability to reach your goals lies in small choice over the course of the day, day in day out. There is not one secret trick that will make you lose the weight you want to loss or the changes in your body composition come any faster or easier. It’s about what you are doing right now and what you will do in the next hour or two that make the difference, not what you did yesterday or what you are going to do tomorrow, it about right now. Stay in the moment of the journey of your reaching your goals. Ask yourself, “is what I’m doing right now going to help me or hurt me in achieving what I want?” I truly believe that as long as your goal is realistic you can do it. YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE TOO. Exercise or be active whenever you are able, eat breakfast, and keep your goals in front of you, not in the back of your mind. I BELIEVE IN YOU.

Thanks for reading

Matt Kingstone

King Cobra Fit

My guide to Weight Loss (It’s Nothing Crazy)

I take my clients goals very seriously. I try to give them all of the tools that they need to make the choices necessary to reach those goals. Hearing any of my clients say that they aren’t seeing the results that they were hoping for, is by far the most stressful situation that I have experienced so far as a trainer. I pride myself on providing challenging, functional, fun and educational fitness classes and sessions that lead to results. This is what my philosophy revolves around, and if it doesn’t work then my philosophy is flawed. That is what stresses me out. Like butterflies in my stomach and keeps me up at night kind of stress. Fat loss is by far the most common goal of any of my clients. This is the hardest one for me to ensure happens. Getting a client stronger, faster, moving better or performing better in an event, is easy compared to guiding a client through a weight loss journey. There is so much information out there regarding fat loss, some of it good, most of it bad and confusing; I take for granted that my clients are doing everything right when we are not together. One of the hardest parts with this is that many of them are legitimately trying. Following programs that they have found on line or that are provided by an App on their phones or sticking to what they remember working in the past. The problem with this is many of the programs on the internet or found on apps are not nearly personalized enough to provide the weight loss that they are looking for. I encourage you to read my blog “When am I going to see results”, I talk about the need to focus on more than just weight loss as a “result” of healthy lifestyle choices. However, I realize that weight loss is a very important goal for some people, and it can have medical implications for some. So with this in mind, I wanted to provide a guide to weight loss (should be called fat loss). Here are six basic general rules to follow that, if you follow them at least 80% of the time day in day out you will see the results you are looking for. No gimmicks, no fads just truths.

Strength train.

The best calorie burner your body has is muscle. The best way to build muscle is to strength train, period. The idea here is that the more lean muscle mass you have on your body, the more calories your body will need use to just sustain life. Now don’t for a minute think that because you have the goal of adding muscle mass that you will get “bulky”, this will not happen, especially if you are a female. Getting “bulky” isn’t so easy that you can do it unintentionally. But you have to lift heavy to cause your body to feel the need to add muscle mass, so don’t be afraid to use more weight than you’re used to, but can lift with correct form. I generally build in at least one “strength” day a week into my programming for my clients.

Sweat every day

If your goal is weight loss, working out 2-3 days per week is not enough.  If your goal is weight loss, working out 2-3 days per week is not enough. Just like you need to make smart food choices day in, day out, you need to make physical activity a daily priority as well. Sweat every day for at least 30 minutes. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy; go for a hike, play with the kids, ice skate, power walk, play squash or racquet ball, anything. The key is, use your body. You spend 2-3 hours a week with your trainer building strength, mobility and endurance, what good is it if you don’t put it use. Enjoy what you can do today that you couldn’t do yesterday!

Eat 

This is the hardest concept for most people to comprehend. If your goal is weight loss, and you are being physically active, a huge reduction in daily calorie intake won’t work. If you are not fueling your body to recover from your workouts then you are doing yourself a great disservice. There are many different philosophies out there when it comes to eating. The best one that I have found, that works for almost everyone, is also the most difficult. It’s not difficult because you have to eat gross tasteless foods, or do some crazy juice fast to start it off or even go for long periods feeling hungry. It’s difficult because you have to eat; you have to eat more food than you think. “Grazing” is a concept of eating every 3-4 hours starting with breakfast no more than an hour after getting up. Three main meals a day; Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner with small snacks between at least breakfast and lunch as well as lunch and dinner. Eating breakfast is very important. It triggers your metabolism and tells your body that food is abundant and that it can use its own fat stores for additional energy without concern of a famine. Continuing to eat throughout the day reinforces this concept and will help your body to be comfortable with letting go of stored body fat. This is where I have an issue with “Apps” that tell you how many calories you have to eat in a day. Does that app take into account what physical activity you did or are going to do that day, or what you did the day before?  If you are serious about losing fat and changing your body composition for the rest of your life, then the changes you make have to be sustainable and realistic and work for you. Put down the app and make an appointment with a nutritionist or dietician who you can speak to face to face and work out a meal plan that works for your lifestyle, your likes and dislikes and your longevity. They are worth the investment if you are serious about making a change. Food is by far the most important step in any health, weight loss, vitality goal, don’t half ass it, take your needs to a subject matter expert, you’ll be shocked with the difference that it will make.

Drink

Water is the nectar of life. It will make or break any healthy living strategy including weight loss. Drink plenty of water. I really don’t think I have to say much more about this one. 2 or more litres per day is a good start.

 Sleep

The time that you spend in the gym is the time you spend doing “damage” to your body. You are forcing it to do things that it is not used to doing. You are causing it to say “holy crap! What just happened? I’d better add some muscle so that isn’t as hard next time”.  It is while you are resting, relaxing and most importantly, sleeping that your body does this. Aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep every night is tough. Believe me, I know. I get up at or before 5 am 5 days a week. As a 30 something male, it’s hard for me to force myself to go to bed before 9 pm most nights. But let me tell you, if I’m up past 11 pm more than a couple days in a row I’m useless. Sleep and recover, allow yourself time to recharge. You will see the changes in your body composition, energy levels and mood.

Own your choice

If you truly want to see results, I mean really want it, you have to prove it. Not to me, or to your kids or the friend that is helping keep you accountable. You have to prove it to yourself. If you make a decision to change, do all the way. Own the choice to make the change. Losing 20 – 50 lbs of body fat won’t happen on its own or overnight. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to take work. You’ll have ups and downs, hold on to your successes and let go of your failures. Dwell on your victories not your defeats. Part of owning your choice is giving it enough time to show you results, if the result isn’t what you were hoping for  after a few weeks or a month, make one small change and keep going, giving up because what you are doing isn’t ”working” is not owning anything. You spend 2-3 hour a week with your trainer, you spend 24 hours a day with yourself, following all the rules is up to you. Make the choice. Trust the process. Do it. Live it. See it. Own it!

Putting it all together

Ok so here it is. If you add muscle to your body, causing your body to need to use more calories in a day to just survive; If you are active every single day for at least 30 minutes, using your new strong body, enjoying life and burning calories without even thinking about it; If you get guidance from a nutritional expert and feed yourself enough healthy, nutrient rich food so that your body can recover from your workout as well as be convinced that there isn’t a famine and that it can sacrifice stored body fat; And if you can do it all with conviction, passion and trust, I can guarantee that you will see all the results that you have ever hoped for. If one of these is missing  or lacking, you will not see the results that you want. Make your focus the journey not the destination and you will be there before you know it.

Thanks for reading

Matt Kingstone

King Cobra Fit Personal Training

When am I going to see results?

This is the most valid and important question that any of my clients can ask me and it is also my least favorite question. Not for any other reason than it’s the most complicated question that my clients can ask me. I can give you a reason for every exercise, body position and tempo that I choose for you to do during a workout, but I can’t give you a straight answer for why/why not or when your body will burn body fat for fuel and you will start to lose weight. In a world where 1 + 1 = 2 and everything we want is at the touch of a button, the concept that 2 or 3 hours of exercise per week doesn’t translate into 1 Lbs of fat or weight lost on the scale is a very hard thing to wrap your head around. I will attempt to make sense of this confusing subject.

First of all, I think a little biology refresher is in order and I will try to keep it short and concise. Your body is made up of bone, adipose tissue (fat) and muscle. Of those three, muscle is the only one that uses the “energy” that you either eat or that is stored in your body as fat.  This means that the more muscle you have, the more energy your body needs to use to just survive, even just lying in bed (known as your Basal Metabolic Rate). Now, in order for all of your hard work to translate onto the scale you need to balance your food “energy” books, so to speak. The idea being that the energy that your body uses to just survive plus the energy required to do all the things that you fit in throughout that day; working out, going to work, taking the stairs, chasing the kids…..whatever you do, needs to equal the amount of food (“energy”) that you eat in that day or be greater, so that your body is now in a calorie deficit (the only time a deficit is a good thing haha). If this is the case your body will have to “tap into” it’s stored fat (energy) to make up the difference and voila, weight loss. I hope that makes sense. To say it another way, some scientists tried to put hard numbers to this situation. The math tells us that 3500 Kcal (the units that we measure food energy in) is equal to one pound of fat. So, if we spread that over seven days in the week, all you need to do is cut out or burn using activity or a combination of the two, 500 Kcals per day to reach one pound of fat lost every week. Easy right? Well if it was easy I wouldn’t be writing this. You must remember that your mom was right, you are unique.  All of your life’s experiences as well as your genetic make-up is what decides how, when and from where your body will “burn” fat and in turn, lose weight. It is also important to note that muscle weighs more than fat, as it is more dense, so it takes up less “space”. It is quite common for someone to trade out fat for muscle thus not showing a change on the scale. Is your head spinning yet? Are you still reading? I hope so, because knowledge is power, and knowledge with regards to your goals is the best way to reach them!

Ok, so forget about the math, forget about the Basal Metabolic Rate, forget about calorie deficits, let’s just call it what it is, Energy in Vs. Energy out. If you are using more energy than you are eating in a day then that can translate into weight loss. If you find that you have been training for a few months and are neither losing nor gaining any weight, that’s tells you that you are in an energy balance and if weight loss is your goal, a few small changes to the amount and/or type of calories you are eating may be all it will take to put you into a calorie deficit. So putting yourself in my shoes as your trainer, I hope you can now appreciate the complexity of the “when will I start losing weight” question. It’s not that I’m trying to use double talk to confuse you or keep stringing you along to keep you as a client while not providing result, my industry is based on “results”. It’s just that there isn’t a black and white answer to that question.

So where do we go from here? First, I really encourage you to read my blog “The 80/20 Rule of weight loss”; it speaks about how important your nutritional choices are to weight loss. And second, I firmly believe that we need to broaden our definition of “results”. If you are noticing that; your clothes fit differently, the stairs at home or that stupid hill you have to walk up to get to work is easier, or people are saying “wow, you look great. What have you been doing?” but the scale is not moving, are you not still seeing results? These are what I call the intangible tangibles and they are the things that we need to hold on to the strongest and loosen our grip on the scale. Every time you get to bring the belt in one notch, or notice that you are walking to work faster or have more energy in the day or get a complement, celebrate it! Find your way to make it a big deal. Seriously, buy a bag of gold stars and put one up every time one of those things happens; put a quarter or dollar in a jar (if I had a nickel for every time, blank, happened, I’d be rich), something to pat yourself on the back. You are doing this for yourself, but if you are only using the scale to quantify your “results” you are missing the point. I’m not saying never weigh yourself, but I am saying don’t obsess over the scale. If you are going to weigh yourself, make it once a week and try to make it the same day/time and scale every time. Trust and enjoy the process. Remember, it’s not the destination that defines us, but the journey itself.

Thanks for reading

Matt (King Cobra Fit)

Why do you train?

Ok this is my first post, so bare with me, I’m going to try and not come off preachy

How would you answer the question, why do you train? Everyone has their own reasons to workout, exercise or train; To stay healthy, To look better, for a sport or event, Because “they” say its important. The list goes on and on and its as individual as the person themselves. However, if we strip that question down to its bare bones, grass roots, how would you answer it? Everyone will have the same answer or at least should, and that is ADL’s. Activities of Daily Living; Walking to the grocery store or up stairs without any undue stress, lifting the kids or grand kids off the ground without pain or discomfort, or simply getting out of bed without stiffness (this is of course something that everyone who trains has experienced and is a different “stiffness” than that experienced by a de-trained individual). Now I know what you’re thinking and I can see the eye rolling. You’re thinking “Well obviously, but that is too basic. I train cause I’m going to Mexico in a month and I want to be shredded”. That is a valid reason, however I put this question forward; How is training for the beach in Mexico and training to make your every day life easier any different? Should they be approached differently? My personal answer to that is no.

Just the other day I listened to a pod cast on Functionalmovement.com by Grey Cook about exercise economy. Not speaking about economy in the traditional monetary sense but specifically about how efficiently or economically you use your time when training. Are you doing bicep curls, tricep push downs, and a1000 crunches? If so, without sounding cheeky, why? Now, I want to say, there are no bad exercises only poor technique and form, having said that, there is a chance that some people are spending time doing some movements that are taking time away from arguably more important movements. How heavy is that fork that you are curling up to your mouth? Or how many times do you plan on sitting straight up in your pool chair? And to be honest, I can’t think of a practical, real world application for the tricep pushdown/extension movement. I guess the point that I’m trying to make here is; Are you spending time training functionally or solely for aesthetic appeal. Can they not be one in the same?

The importance of functional excersies will be the topic of a future post but for now all I’m saying is its not a bad idea to stop and think about the movements you are choosing and how they will translate into your everyday actives.

Ok, so now, why do you train? Your answer; To make my life easier, more enjoyable…and to get a few double takes from the girls at the gym. That feels pretty good too 😉

More to come. Thanks for reading

What makes a good trainer, a Recipe for success Part1

I’m a personal trainer and I love my job. I love every part of it. Well, ok being up and ready to teach a 5 am bootcamp took a little getting used to. But I’m inspired every time I teach an early fitness class and see the determination and dedication of everyone who is there to look after their physical health before most people’s day even starts.  There are many things that make a good Personal Trainer, but a passion for the job and admiration for the people who look to you for guidance along their fitness journey is paramount.  I feel that I am good at what I do, however, I still have a lot to learn and that is a prospect I look forward to. Knowing and accepting this is one thing that makes me a good trainer.  I’ve been very lucky so far to have the experience that I’ve had and to have worked with the people I’ve worked with. Malcolm Gladwell says that to be considered an expert at something, you have to have done it for at least 10 000 hours. If you’ve done something for 10 000 hours, I think you could say that you’re experienced at that something (I have not reached 10 000 hours but it’s only a matter of time). However, just as important as experience, formal education is irreplaceable. Would you go to a dentist that hasn’t been to school for dentistry but has been doing it for a few years? I wouldn’t. Formal education is one corner stone many personal trainers are missing.  Lastly, a Personal Trainer has to love people. Not just put up with them or just like to watch them, but love to study and learn from them and more important than that, they have to want to spend time with them. Working closely with a client who is sweaty and feeling vulnerable is an interesting situation all trainers find themselves in. It takes a certain amount of decorum to not only feel comfortable yourself but more importantly, ensure your client is comfortable. My goal here is to give you an idea of what to look for when you are searching for a Personal Trainer, not all Personal Trainers are created equal. If your Personal Trainer is experienced, educated, and passionate about helping you be your best, you’re in good hands.  If not, perhaps it’s time to look for someone who is.

In my, to date, four years of working in the Fitness industry in beautiful Victoria BC, I have had the privilege of working with literally hundreds of clients and fitness class participants. I’ve sat and tried to actually come up with a ball park number and my honest estimate is 500+. That number comes from the one on one clients I’ve worked with to the fitness classes of 60+ participants that I’ve taught and everything in between. Working with this amount of people in my relatively limited time as a Certified Personal Trainer is a dispensation that not all trainers are blessed with and I do not take it for granted. However, it is experience that builds confidence and an understanding of people, what they like/dislike, how different people respond to different approaches and just simple raw face to face time with real people.  In my day to day classes, I’ll get a workout mode stuck in my head. Whether it’s a countdown or a ladder or combination of movements and I just can’t stop thinking about the possibilities or the options that the idea or combination provides. So I will use that same idea all day or throughout the week with all the different groups and one on one clients that I work with. Ok, I may not use it for everyone and will always adjust it to fit each client or groups fitness and competency level, but the core idea will be in there. I don’t’ do this because I’m lazy and just don’t want to come up with a new idea. Part of the reason is, like when the first song you hear on the radio when you wake up gets stuck in your head, and the only way to get it out is to belt it out and sing the words out of your head; exploring every option of the idea helps me get it out of my head and gives me a number of subsequent ideas at the same time. It also gives me the opportunity to watch how different people respond to similar stimuli. I find it so interesting to watch a group of middle aged women beast through a tough workout and then use the same workout for a group of young men who barely make it through. This provides me with experience points that are invaluable and help me learn, not only how to adjust movements and intensity for one group over the other, but how each individual person in that group responds.  I love challenging myself to keep things fresh, new and interesting; this also keeps me gaining experience. When I teach a SPIN class I try very hard not to teach the same class more than once; I change at the very least the order of the drills to see if it makes a difference. The point here is experience. Experience comes in many forms and at unexpected times; looking for it, learning from it and applying it the next day is the sign of a good Trainer.

However, experience isn’t the only thing that a good trainer needs. While experience is a great asset, there is still more that is needed. Education is Experience’s big sister. I will talk about education in Part two of “What makes a good trainer”. Until then, as always, Thank you for reading and happy Thanksgiving.

Matt Kingstone (King Cobra Fit)

Throwdowns and swings….Just awesome

I’m all about balance; I put a lot of effort into ensuring that my workouts involve all kinds of balance. Single sided movements, single leg movements, instability and having a balance between pushing and pulling movements all have made a permanent home in my exercise bag. Now I realize that this isn’t a ground breaking concept and may seem overly simplistic to some, but I’m in love with it. The exercises you choose don’t have to be complicated or complex but there must be a balance. My new favorite movements to pair together are kettlebell swings and medicine ball throw downs. They’re perfect complementary movements to each other.

The Kettle bell swing is a great full body conditioning movement, it closely mimics the flexion and extension of the hips during activities like running; it engages the whole core; challenges coordination and balance. There aren’t very many compact, dynamic movements that are better than a Kettle bell swing for overall conditioning. They can be done by nearly every healthy participant, with the alternative movement being a dead lift with a high pull, similar movement pattern just less ballistic.

Pair that with a medicine ball throw down and you have a great workout. The throw down again takes an everyday movement pattern, picking something up and putting it down, and makes it dynamic and ballistic, think chopping wood and you’ve got the right idea.  Like the KB swing, it challenges you to focus on maintaining a tight core; it requires coordination and balance, and works cardiovascular endurance. Throw downs are best done with large, soft med. balls. Dynamax makes a great one that comes in many different weights. One contraindication would be limited shoulder ROM, adjusting the movement to stay in pain free ROM is an option.

The powerful concentric action of the glutes during hip extension while KB swinging combined with the explosive flexion of the hips and torso when throwing down is what makes these two movements so fantastic. They play off each other so well and flow together just like the sweat dripping off your nose while doing them. Whether you build them in as superset within a workout; put them in a larger circuit; or just use them paired together on their own you really can’t go wrong. Next time you want something dynamic, ballistic, low impact/low risk, fun, not to mention satisfying (I tell people that if they can break my Med Ball, I’ll give them $10, talk about stress relief), try adding in these two awesome movements.

The 80:20 rule of weight loss

This post may catch me some flack from the training world. But honesty is where the truth lies, so here goes…..

How many of your friends have you heard say “I got a trainer, he’s going to help me lose all this weight I have to lose”? Maybe you’ve said it yourself. Or how about, “I just started working out. I’m going to get so shredded!” I hate to burst your bubble, or your friends bubble but your trainer isn’t all powerful or all knowing (even though we like to think we are). And without a dialed-in nutrition plan, you will not see the results that you want.

The 80:20 rule of weight loss is a widely accepted, albeit not scientifically supported, concept stating that 80% of weight loss is controlled by diet and 20% by exercise. In other words, to get the results you want in your weight loss journey, you have to ensure that you are feeding your body correctly. The right choices, the right amounts at the right times. Here’s where I catch flack, most trainers can’t or won’t but more importantly, shouldn’t give you nutritional counseling. Its not that your trainer is keeping all the best tips to him/herself, but without certification in the nutritional counseling field, its out of your trainers “scope of practice” and they could be held legally liable if something goes wrong with your eating (allergic reaction, disruption in medication etc). More than that, would you take advice from your dentist about the best drill on the market because he was just drilling your teeth? No, you’d go to the hardware store, to the subject matter experts. Nutrition is the same deal.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is no substitute for a good trainer (what makes a good trainer will be the topic of another post). A good trainer will push you to be your best, provide you with a personalized progressive program and help you reach fitness goals you never thought possible. This will help you get stronger, feel better, be healthier and impact your life in ways your never thought it would. There’s nothing I love more than seeing clients reach strength, endurance and fitness goals. But without adjusting your nutrition, you will see hard, minimal amounts of weight loss. I’m not trying to rain on any parades but proper diet and nutrition are essential to weight loss. There is another “but” coming… But don’t fret or be discouraged, in fact, having this knowledge is a good thing. There are plenty of sources out there that can give you all the information that you need to make the right choices. However, in all honesty, YOU ALREADY KNOW WHAT TO DO! Cut out the processed “fake” foods. No more Coke, no more McDonald’s (I don’t care how healthy they say it is). Eat 6-8 servings of veggies, drink lots of water. I realize that its a little more complicated than this but its not really rocket science and those few changes will make a world of difference. This is your chance, educate yourself about food. You have to make choices about what you eat all day, everyday. Every choice you make will impact your success or failure. There are nutritional counselors and dieticians out there that went to school to learn about food and how our bodies react to it. Make an appointment with one today.

You are with your trainer for a few hours a week. You are with yourself every minute of every day. You can do it, every choice matters, take it one meal at a time, one training session at a time and one pound at a time. You won’t regret your hard work. You will regret putting it off any longer.

Thanks for reading!

Teaching is my tonic

I’m human. I get into bad moods; get tired; get grumpy. People have endless ways of getting out of blue spells; Exercising, eating, drinking, crying, yelling. I teach fitness. It doesn’t matter what mood I come into a fitness class in, I leave not thinking about what was bothering me and walk out feeling like I hit the reset button. And no, I don’t take out my frustrations on my class and beast them extra hard. I do what I always do, give the best class I can. If its a great class I leave feeling like a million bucks, if its an ok class, I leave feeling like half a million bucks. Either way, I feel much better than I did coming in.

I think the key is finding a way to gain some perspective on everything. Distract yourself from the emotions of the event and come back to it a little less bias, a little more clear on what’s important.

The next time you are burning in the face mad, tearing up sad or pulling your hair out frustrated, even if you don’t feel like it, take 30 – 60 mins and do that thing that lets you hit the reset button.

 

(my disclaimer, this is not the place for food, booze or drugs. Find a healthy distraction. Go for a run, play the guitar, take a walk, go to the beach. The key is to remove stressors not add them.)

 

As always, thanks for reading

Matt

King Cobra Fit

Start being a big baby, Part 1(breathing)

Babies are perfect. Many of the qualities or behaviors that babies display are uncorrupted, unadulterated, and natural. Their ability to perfectly squat, roll over, digest, breath, crawl, as well as make the most grumpy person smile is noting short of spectacular. There is a growing movement toward the inclusion of “primal movements” in personal training and group fitness classes (to those who take my classes, that’s what you call “foreshadowing”). Primal movements are just what they sound; movements that humans have not only been doing since the beginning of time but movements or behaviors that are the first things that we learn as babies. Those movements and behaviors are what I want to talk about in this series. The first, is also the most important “primal movement” you do and it technically isn’t a movement at all; per se.

How do you breath? I mean physically breath. Are you a chest breather or a belly breather? Stop reading and take three normal breaths. I’ll wait. The majority of you are chest breathers. I’m a chest breather, I can admit it but I pledge to change that, and I’ll tell you why. The diaphragm is your “prime” mover when it comes to breathing; your prime movers are the muscles that do the most work during a movement or action and your assister muscles, the ones that help out, when breathing are your external intercostal muscles and internal intercostal muscles (the muscles in between your ribs). If you are a chest breather you use mostly intercostal muscles and less diaphragm, if you are a belly breather you use your diaphragm more. It makes sense to use the prime mover more than the others, does it not? What does this have to do with a baby you ask? Ever watched a baby breath while sleeping or laying on his/her back? Is it their chest or belly that raises up and down? Most of the time it will be very distinctly their stomach. Your diaphragm is located just below your lunges. It pulls your lunges down and sucks air into your lunges. That action of the diaphragm pulling down pushes you lower visceral organs (intestines, stomach, liver ect) out; making your belly stick out. This accentuation of the “gut” may be a huge reason why we move away from being belly breathers. Take another three normal breaths and pay attention to how much air you can take in (don’t cheat and belly breath if you didn’t before), now take three breaths and in-vision that your are breathing air into your stomach. Which method allowed you to take the deeper breath? If it wasn’t the belly breathing you did something wrong. Haha just kidding, but really I think you might have, try sitting up tall. The ability to breath is essential to life. No breath means no life. So being able to maximize your breath should be something that takes precedence over appearance. I know, I hate how my belly sticks out when I belly breath too. But if it means being able to take in more air (oxygen) to allow me to work, train or be active longer in duration (both in a workout and life) I’ll give it a try. Hey, I’ll try anything once, twice if it tastes good. I know it seems like a pretty small inconsequential thing to change but we need to start with our foundation. Breathing allows life.

Whats that; your trainer always harps on “keep a tight core”? And belly breathing feels like your core is loose. Having a tight or engaged core is important but there is more to a strong core than just abdominal and postural muscles. What is interesting is that having full or partially lungs, like you should at the bottom of a squat, actually provides intera-abdominal pressure which causes core stability. Breath is the glue that holds it all together.

So breathing is the foundation, where do we go from here? Well if the first thing that you do when you are born is breath, the next movement you do is as primal as it gets (get your mind out of the gutter!). You roll over. Rolling is an amazingly simple concept but is also shockingly difficult to do as we get older and start letting our limbs do all of the work. I’ll tell you what I’m talking about next time.

Again, Thanks for reading

Matt

(King Cobra Fit)

Put the pride on the shelf; A lesson in the use of cliches and proper weight

You’ve heard the cliché, The love of money is the root of all evil, and I’m sure you’ve heard, The calm before the storm, but have you heard, Pride is injury’s best friend? I think that needs to be a new fitness cliché. I’ve seen it more times than I care to remember; someone using too much weight or too many reps to keep up with someone else, or to show off to that girl or worse yet, prove to yourself you can still do it (even if it has been a little over a year). What do you think is the result most of the time? Probably, a really ugly last few reps and the wrong lesson is learned. Don’t get me wrong, I never want to see anyone injured, that’s the whole reason I didn’t go into therapy, I want to see someone on the best day of their lives, not their worst; but the longer that person goes on letting pride get in the way of using proper form/weight/ROM, the bigger the potential for a worse injury; the longer they will be out of training; and the more likely it is that they will have to see some kind of manual therapist.

Anyone who takes my fitness classes has no doubt heard me say things like, “own the movement”, “make it look good” or “its not enough to just do it, you have to do it right”. When I say that, I’m not just saying it to hear myself talk; it’s a verbal reminder to keep in mind why you’re there. you’re there to get stronger, fitter and healthier, and not beat the guy beside you. Every class I hope that I provide each participant with individual coaching and correction suggestions or general, blanket instruction that gives them the tools to do the movements and workout the best they can. But you’re not off the hook that easily, I will continue to give corrections and bring you slightly lower weights, despite the eye rolls. But if you can hear me, even when I’m not there, hounding on control and form then I’ve done my job and I’m happy.

Now, in saying that, my favorite fitness principle is Progressive Overload, which states, you have to push your body to do a little more than last time to continue to progress. But never forget, there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to exercises. No one, I’ll say it again, NO ONE does any exercise perfectly every time, especially at the end of the workout. The last few reps are just as important, if not more important, than the first. There is no shame in identifying that the weight you started with at the beginning is now slightly too heavy to complete the number of reps, keep form or maintain a full range of motion (ROM) and use a lower weight! Live to fight another day as it were. I think Grey Cook said it best in his podcast “Coddled Conditioning” – “Lifts with kettlebells and free weights were designed with technique in mind so that under fatigue, your unconscious default mode should be impeccable technique (instead of “muscling” it out)” (http://www.functionalmovement.com/articles/Podcasts/2010-06-10_coddled_conditioning)

It makes me so happy to see someone stop, decrease the weight they are using, adjust the angle they are at or at least take a few extra breaths to rest before continuing when they are fatigued. Always remember, every time you are in the gym, be it on your own or in a fitness class, that is your workout, no one elses. The only person you compare yourself to is the you that walked in the door that day. Hey, you can love your money, you can be the calm or the storm, but shelve the pride and live to fight another day!

Thanks again for reading.

Matt Kingstone