Category Archives: General fitness

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

Don’t be a fair weather exercsier

Well, its that time of year again. It’s rainy, it’s snowy, and it’s cold. What are going to do to keep fit and healthy? Bad weather is no excuse to sit on the couch and remember the good ol’ days when we could do whatever we liked. Just like vegetables, fall has its fair share of seasonal Physical Activities. This is by far not an exhaustive list, just a few ideas, please feel free to add more in the comments section.

Running is always an option, now I’m not a runner, that I will fully admit. However, I have enjoyed running now and again and the cooler temperatures mean you could be slightly more comfortable while keeping your pace up there. A few things to keep in mind; just because you may not sweat the way you did when it was 25 degrees out, you still need to hydrate, keep that water coming in; also, layers make all the difference, base/wicking layer, warm layer and water proof layer, but make sure you are breathable; lastly, mind your footing, the ground could be slippery, make sure you have good shoes.

If you’re like me and dislike running (hate is a strong word), don’t fret, there are plenty of options. Spin classes are a great way to challenge your cardio while being in a group atmosphere. Remember, stay within your comfort level, it’s your workout, don’t’ feel pressured to crank the tension up because everyone around you is. However, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself a bit too. If it’s your first spin class, show up a bit early and let the instructor know, ask them to help you get set up on the bike and take a few minutes to play with the tension knob and get comfortable on the bike. Don’t worry, the seat is only a pain in the butt for the first few classes, it gets more comfortable the more you go, I promise.

What’s that? You don’t want to be in a room with a bunch of people, you prefer to be outside. How about kayaking? If you live here on the coast, you’re going to get wet anyway, why not have fun doing it? You can rent kayaks right down by the water for reasonable prices. One tip, rent or buy a wet suit, this will help you stay a little warmer and keep you focused on the scenery around you. Oh yeah and the ocean life! Seals, whales, fish, birds, prepare to see nature like you’ve never seen it before. All distracting you from the crazy sweat you’re working up.

Cross country skiing is another great option. Some of the highest VO2 Max records are held by cross country skiers. With-in 5 minutes of doing it you’ll understand why. There are so many trails and Nordic centers around that you’ll never get bored. Again, you can rent all the necessary equipment from the Nordic lodge and if you like it, there are plenty of people looking to get rid of their gently used equipments as they have purchased new stuff. Also, just like running, layering is the way to go to stay warm and dry.

These are just a few options that there are to keep active in the fall/winter months. Hit the weight room; go for a swim; squash/racquet ball, just to name a few more. Get out and try something new. Remember, just cause its crappy outside, doesn’t give you a free pass to blow all that hard work you did when it was nice out. Keep at it and have fun!

Thanks for reading

Matt Kingstone (King Cobra Fit)

Bahh Bahh Black sheep, why are you so injured?

As a professional Certified Personal Trainer and a Fitness Instructor my goal is to help people become their best. I know that people come to my classes or sessions expecting a fun, challenging and safe workout. I don’t get asked “why am I doing this exercise” very often, but when I do, I always have an answer. There is a reason behind all of the exercises that I choose. The problem with the fitness industry is not enough people ask “why am I doing this exercise ”. Many people take what their trainer is telling them to do and do it blindly. Now to be clear, I’m not telling you to question everything your trainer is telling you to do. If they are experienced, educated and passionate 9 times out of 10 you will be fine. But if an exercise makes you stop and think “whoa, this seems unsafe”, ask the question.

This has to be one of my biggest concerns with the fitness industry today. Too many people are more interested in “looking hard as fuck” doing an exercise, than being interested in understanding where in their daily lives this movement will help them. The handstand pushup is a prime example of this. To perform a handstand pushup you get in to the handstand position, most likely against a wall, and then you bend your arms, lowering your head toward the floor and press back up to straight arms. Impressive to watch, yes, but why the hell are people doing high repetition of this ridiculous movement? What happened to the risk/benefits analysis? When you are choosing an exercise you have to ask yourself two questions. 1) Is there a better way to train this movement pattern or muscle group and 2) Is there a safer way to train this movement pattern or muscle group. If you answer yes to either one of those questions, you need to rethink your exercise choice. To the handstand pushup the answer to both of those questions is yes. How about a standing, seated, half kneel or high kneeling shoulder press; don’t have any weights but have a partner? Try a partner shoulder press. I chose to pick on the handstand pushup because I feel that it is a perfect example of the need for the “why am I doing this exercise” question in fitness. The ability to do a handstand is very impressive; I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from practising and becoming proficient at doing a handstand. However, not everyone has the shoulder stability, balance and strength to do a handstand pushup, therefore not everyone should do them, I would argue that there are very few people who should be doing them.

The point of training and exercising is to enhance your quality of life, be more efficient doing your ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living) and have a little fun in the process; it is not to look like a “Boss” doing a movement or spend months rehabbing an injury that was totally avoidable by stepping out of the herd of sheep and asking WHY!

Thanks for reading

Matt Kingstone

King Cobra Fit