IS THE ” MIND BODY CONNECTION ” JUST A CONCEPT SPECIFIC TO YOGA?

The answer is an emphatic no!  Yoga, whether it be Kripalu, Yoga flow or Vinyasa or any of the disciplines is referred to as a ” mind body” workout.  What exactly does that mean?  What is so ” mind body” about yoga?  Every exercise discipline or modality has a mind body component.

When an individual aspiring to lose weight finally musters up the courage, and for some it takes courage, to decide to take action that is as strong of a mind body connection as there can be.  Obesity is both a physical and mental disease.  The mental challenges of overcoming extreme weight by far ” outweigh” the actual process of the physical work needed to accomplish it.  It can take years for some of these people to overcome the mental challenges, but when it clicks it is indeed a mind body connection.  When the two work together positively towards a fitness goal there is no negative outcome.

The rapidly becoming popular Spartan Race series (www.spartanrace.com) is another great example of a mind body connection.  For a lot of the participants taking part for the first time they are experiencing new physical challenges they never knew existed.  The creators of the race have done a nice job creating different levels of races for the different levels of fitness.  The Spartan Sprint series is a great race for beginner and intermediate level exercisers to challenge themselves mentally and physically through obstacles and exercises they never thought they would ever attempt.  It can be very intimidating for an individual not well versed with exercise to come across a 5,6 or even 9 foot wall they are asked to climb over.  The experience of a new and intimidating challenge calls for the individual to think, to make a decision based on their experience of ever coming across such a challenge and if they have not the outcome is unknown and can be scary.  Are they going to attempt the obstacle with all their effort?  Are they going to forego the obstacle due to fear of failure and opt for the penalty exercise of 30 burpees.  There is no better mental reward then trying something you’ve never tried, something you are afraid to try and succeeding.  A great mind body connection!

In conclusion, exercise in general is based on the mind body connection.  The mental challenges that hold the body back from attempting physical challenges often pull the rug of opportunity out from the feet of success.  Once the mind can overcame their fears, it allows the body to do amazing things within the scope of the individual’s capability.   Creating an unbreakable, mind body connection!

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GS-FITNESS: ADULT PLAY A GREAT WAY TO STAY FIT ON VACATION.

Adult play has been recognized more lately as a legitimate way to maintain or even improve fitness levels.  Old style ” Physical Education” programs have become more mainstream and even gyms are taking on a similar theme to attract new members.  Play is a great way to stay active while on vacation.  Scott Eberle is the Vice President of Play Studies at ” The Strong ” and editor at the American Journal of Play states ” we don’t lose the need for novelty and pleasure as we grow up.”

Many people across the world are runners on the ” treadmill of life.”  There seem to be more outlets draining bodies energy and very few to recharge them.  Below is a short list that many people can relate to:

*  Demanding jobs.

*  Demanding kids.

*  Caring for aging parents.

*  Paying bills.

*  Trying to stay healthy.

 

These strains on life are daily.  Staying healthy can be viewed by some as a way to recharge and by others as an energy vampire.  It all depends on each individual’s situation and outlook on exercise.  How can a one or even two week vacation provide relief from a year’s worth of these daily strains.   Allowing exercise to be one of the strains is a sin.  It’s a mortal sin on vacation.  Finding ways to stay active while having fun is the best way to exercise.  Leave behind the workout cards or don’t look at the WOD for a week or even two weeks.  Run around with kids, play pickle, play tag play touch football or play foot ball in the water.  Adults should make time to play on a weekly basis at least.  If this isn’t possible then ensuring there is some play time on vacation is a surefire way to enhance the benefits of time away from the usual home and work routine.  The below is a list of benefits adults will experience from regular play from www.healthguide.org from and article titled ” The Benefits of Play For Adults.”

1.  Stress relief – play releases endorphins in th brain that create a sense of feeling good.

2.  Improve brain function – playing a game of chess, checkers or backgammon challenge your mental cognition and can reduce memory loss.

3.  Stimulate the mind and boost creativity – children learn better when they are having fun.  The same principal applies to adults.  Learning is easier in a relaxed, playful mood.

4.  Improve relationships and connection to others – sharing fun can foster compassion, trust and intimacy with others.

Here are some photos my wife took of me while on vacation just last week.  We visit her family in New Seabury, Ma. every year in August.  It’s also where we got married so we find a lot of appreciation in that.

 

Below is a picture of me just after I rode a wave in and then got clobbered by another one right behind it.  A lot of fun!

Riding in waves

 

Here I am with an 11 year old on my back and two more coming at me!  An epic game of keep away, kids vs. adults.  It’s a multi year rivalry that I hope continues for a long time.

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That’s myself in the middle of the three youngsters hoping to receive this very nicely arced pass from  my wife’s cousin’s husband Chris.  We played every afternoon for about an hour, and I was exhausted.  The water provided a ton of resistance to say the least.  Chasing and jumping and tackling each other was both some of the best fun and most demanding exercise I’ve had all year.

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Lastly here I am early in the morning in Nantucket Sound with my little daughter London Lee.  Getting some vertical pressing work in before most of the Cape awakens.

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To conclude, don’t miss the boat while on vacation by logging minute after minute or set after set of exercise.  Get out and enjoy the surrounding for what they have to offer and stay fit by having fun.  The body’s batteries will be re- charged and ready to tackle the daily demands upon arriving home for sure.

Resources:

1.  www.helpguide.org article titled ” The Benefits of Play For Adults.”  Author Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith M.A. and Jeanne Segal Phd.

2.  www.psychcentral.com article titled ” The Importance of Play For Adults.”  By Margarita Takarovsky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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GS-FITNESS / CORE BOOT CAMP: BETTER EXERCISE FOR FAT LOSS; THE KETTLEBELL SWING OR THE DUMB BELL CHOP.

Here are two similar exercises to the eye, but very different in how they should be used in an exercise routine for fat loss. There are more and more people performing Kettlebell swings in fitness centers as they become more popular to general exercisers. Are they just another fad or do they really produce the results the media claims? And when results are discussed, it is what produces the quickest and best results. The chop exercise currently holds a longer shelf life in the exercise world, but certainly does not get the attention of the Kettlebell swing. How can each exercise be used if an exerciser has a fat loss goal? Is one more efficient than the other?

The medicine ball/dumb bell chop
Muscles worked and movements involved – the chop exercise is no question a total body exercise. Every joint in the body both flexes and extends at opposite parts of the movement making this a very metabolically effective exercise. Making every muscles shorten and lengthen at opposite times in the movement. The down phase (concentric) of the movement = ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, trunk and arm extension occur. The up phase (eccentric) = ankle, knee, hip, trunk, shoulder and arm extension. The joint and muscles actions in this movement make it a sagittal plane movement. Movement performed in the front to back plane of motion. Sagittal plane movements are the movements that will produce the most force and power. Think long jump, sprinting, squatting, olympic lifting, all sagittal plane movements. One could argue tranverse plane (rotational) movements create just as much power. Swinging a bat or a racquet.

 

 

Variations – there are a couple of variations of the chop. As far as movement pattern differences there is the anterior chop and the lateral (side) chop. All other differences are related to equipment used. The dumb bell, medicine ball, cable column, kettle bell or resistance band. For comparison purposes, we’ll say the chop is with a dumb bell.

Duration of a typical set performed – it’s hard to perform a chopping exercise for much longer than a minute unless it is made to be that easy. If it is that easy, it is nothing short of a waste of time if body fat reduction and looking better is the goal.  Even when done with a light weight muscle fatigue would limit the set duration to approximately a minute due to the amount of joint and muscle action involved. This is a great exercise that fits right into the higher intense, short burst of exercise for fat loss equation.

Exercise prescription for fat loss – the best way to utilize this exercise for fat loss is to perform it in a tabata interval protocol. 20 seconds of chopping a weight as fast as possible up and down through a full range of motion with a 10 second rest period. Repeat for 8 rounds. It is imperative that each set be performed at the highest intensity possible. The exerciser shouldn’t coast or just try and survive the 4 minutes, he or she should go like gangbusters from the first set. Over a 4 week period the exerciser will improve their anaerobic threshold, decrease body fat if a healthy meal plan is followed and also increase aerobic capacity. This exercise can also be utilized in different protocols other than the Tabata . 30 seconds of chops with 15 seconds rest is effective. Chops can also be supersetted or combined with 2-3 other exercises for a fat mashing metabolic circuit. For example:

Medicine ball chop 30 seconds
30 seconds recovery
Plyo lunge 30 seconds
30 seconds recovery
Lateral hops 30 seconds
30 seconds recovery
Repeat for 3-5 rounds

Kettle-bell swing
Muscles worked and movements involved – a hip hinging exercise that focuses on posterior chain musculatute. Hamstrings, glutes and secondarily the erector spinae (lower back). Different from the chop, the swing only uses hip flexion and extension. There is a slight bend in the knee throughout the movement, but the main joint action is at the hip. This puts the onus on the hamstrings and glutes to do the lifting. This also takes the upper body out of the equation except for some light guiding of the Kettlebell as it goes through the legs and up to sternum height.

 

Variations – the swing is an exercise that has a lot more room for deviation from the correct form than the chop does. First of all, there is the Russian kettlebell swing and the American kettlebell swing. The Russian swing is superior to the American swing due to it’s stricter form, less time between muscle contractions and lower risk of deviating from proper form and causing injury. During the Russian swing(above video), the kettlebell stops at sternum level at the highest. The American swing, as mentioned in describing the Russian swing, has a higher risk of performing the exercise incorrectly due to the longer stroke of the movement. The weight is lifted from between the legs just like the Russian swing, but unlike the Russian swing the rep isn’t complete until the weight is almost directly over the head of the exerciser. There is more force produced due to the lever arm extending much further out and up than that of the Russian swing, there is also more of a ballistic movement to this lift as well. Especially when the weight gets heavier.

 

Duration of typical set performed – when it comes to metabolic response the list of literature supporting high intense, shorter bursts of exercises as the more productive modality is long to say the least. (see below for references). The kettlebell swing is designed for endurance and can be performed for minutes on end. Ten, fifteen even twenty minutes can be performed by a well trained kettlebell athlete. How does this fit into the high intensity, short burst for a high metabolic response category?

Exercise prescription for fat loss – the most efficient way to use the Kettlebell swing for fat loss is in conjunction with 2, 3 or 4 other exercises in a metabolic circuit. For example:

1 minute 2 handed Kettlebell swing
30 seconds recovery
1 minute burpee set
30 seconds recovery
1 minute resistance band squat row
Repeat for 3-5 rounds.

In my opinion the chop is superior to the Kettlebell swing due to it’s more explosive nature and the ability to produce a lot more muscular force in a shorter period of time  Therefore recruiting more type 2 muscle fibers and taxing the anaerobic energy system, the two systems that need to be taxed in order to create a metabolic response. It is the more efficient exercise at eliciting a fat loss result. The Kettlebell swing can completely transform an individuals body if done with proper form and done for a long enough period of time to elicit results. Longer sets and more reps are required with this piece of equipment to see similar results to the chop.  In conclusion, when used properly the wood chop exercise will get an exerciser fat loss results faster than the kettle bell swing.

 

References for short duration high intense bursts of exercise as a superior protocol for fat loss:

1.    http://jap.physiology.org/content/102/4/1439

2.  http://www.translational-medicine.com/content/10/1/237

3.  http://www.lipidworld.com/content/12/1/131

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GS-FITNESS / CORE BOOT CAMP: SURFSET FITNESS PROGRAM. THE REAL DEAL?

I came across a video article on Boston.com about the latest trend in the fitness industry; Surfset Fitness.  The title of the article is ” Ditch the Wetsuit:  Surset Fitness Builds Surfer Bodies on Land.”  I am okay with a new and exciting way for people to exercise.  If variety is what some folks need to keep active then so be it.  I’m sure this workout is challenging, especially if the workouts are an hour long.  The question about new fitness trends is never really if they are challenging or not.  An exerciser can make their muscles sore if they hold a fly swatter up by their chin with the elbow bent at a 90 degree angle and flex and extend from the wrist and elbow for as long as they can for three sets.  If the exerciser has never performed that movement before for that duration there is a distinct possibility it will create muscles fatigue and possibly soreness the next day.  That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you.

I like some of the movements they showed in this video, of the ones they showed.  But the big problem I have was when the participants jumped and rotated their body 180 degrees and landed on an unstable surface, the board.  It’s one thing if you are on water performing that move where the board can slip out and not create an un moveable surface that can increase rotational/sheer stress on the knees.  The board being locked into one place yet still unstable is slightly dangerous when landing.  I must say I don’t know how unstable the boards are.  From the jumps I saw in the video there appeared to be the potential  for sudden ankle pronation or supination leading to sudden internal or external rotation of the knee.  Again, on water there is more give and less torque on joints.  On a more grounded piece of equipment like this board the torque on joints increase.  Just my opinion.  The moves lying prone on the board with the bands looked instense.  There is some balance to be gained from performing some of the movements standing on the board.  But, by no means will someone look like a California surfer after taking this workout for 8 weeks.  Surfers are in great shape before they start surfing usually.  They look good already, then they start surfing.  Same thing with gymnasts, distance runners, volleyball players and a lot of other athletes.  I fully support this program if it can help some new people get off the couch and back into a regular routine.  I am seeking out a class near my location to give it a full try and more of a review.

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GS-FITNESS / CORE BOOT CAMP 1 ARM BURPEE BROAD JUMP COMBO

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GS-FITNESS/CORE BOOT CAMP: LONGER TERM STUDY SHOWING BENEFITS FROM GREEN TEA CONSUMPTION.

A study performed by Brazilian researchers shows that both body composition and performance improvements were gained from a strength training regimen and regular consumption of green tea.

Previous evidence has showed that athletes benefit from consuming green tea daily by reducing inflammation after rigorous workouts, improving recovery time.

Highlights from this study:

Purpose – to demonstrate how overweight women can benefit from consuming green tea on a regular basis, body composition benefits specifically.

Method – researchers had all participants go on a calorie restricted diet for 4 weeks prior to start. The women were then divided up into 4 groups for an 8 week period.
@ A placebo group.
@ A group that drank 10 grams of green tea powder twice daily.
@ A group that strength trained.
@ A group that strength trained and drank green tea.

You can click on the link to see the results from each group, but the group that performed strength training and drank green tea twice daily had the best results regarding body composition improvements. This group also showed good gains in strength performance as well.

Take a look at the previous study I posted on this topic and compare the two. The previous study from the New York Times article discussed drinking green tea and exercising on a bicycle for one week’s time. This study uses strength training and a much longer test time.

Resources: Charles Poliquin tip# 569. Drink Green Tea to Lose Fat and Build Muscle: Pair it with Training for Best Results.

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GREEN TEA FAT LOSS THEORY DEBUNKED, FOR THE MOMENT ANY WAY

Bodybuilders and recreational exercises alike are always looking for a fat loss edge when it comes to competing or just looking good in a bathing suit. In recent news green tea and green tea extract consumption has been touted as having that extra fat burning boost so many exercisers are looking for to elicit the desired results. In an article found on The New York Times researchers found that the consumption of green tea had no effect on weight loss. This study is weak in that it is only done for a one week period of time. It claims that at the end of the one week there was n increase in fat oxidation. Isn’t it possible that it takes the body longer to adjust and adapt the new stimulus? It also claims that there was enough of the fat burning component in a daily green tea or two or even the average amount of a green tea extract supplement. Leaving the door open for the possibility of a higher dosage being potent enough to potentially do the job? Until the next study done on this don’t rest your hopes on your daily Zen from Starbuck’s as the fat loss key to your success. Daily Tazo Zen green tea from Starbuck's

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GS-FITNESS/CORE BOOT CAMP: 5 THINGS I HAVE CHANGED IN MY ROUTINE OVER THE LAST 5 YEARS

The most important fitness lesson is that it has to be maintained over a lifetime. This has been stated and stated to no end, but does it register? A healthy lifestyle is a neverending semester of learning and applying new concepts to see what works. Think of it as a lifelong chemistry class. Pretty scary when put in those terms. Nonetheless, if change is too difficult a concept for an individual to adapt to then health and fitness gains will suffer. Here are five different things I’ve learned over the last five years that have made a big impact on my health and fitness, in order of importance.

1. Increased consumption of saturated fat – Yes, every current and former cardiologist in the world would cringe at hearing this but it is true. This has had the biggest impact on my health and fitness. I have an increased mental energy and clarity and a decreased body composition. What two things are more important than that? There are still people who are decreasing saturated fat consumption, increasing protein and consuming ” smart” carbohydrates and little to no fat. These are the same people who after about a week’s time complain of light headedness, lack of energy and poot sleep. Cardiologists are still recommending a diet conducive to this format as well. Saturated fat is an essential pre cursor to testosterone. Without saturated fat testosterone levels will be low. If testosterone levels are low we can’t build muscles or recover from workouts. It is clear how working out rigorously over a long period of time and not consuming saturated fats is a dead end.

2. Made overall fitness my goal – Instead of training for long distance obstacle course races (which I love) I have made lower body composition and body weight my goal. And, it has worked. Many exercisers use events like the marathon or triathlons to ” get in shape ” or lose weight. No individual needs to complete one of these events in order to attain those goals. It’s misguided thinking and often leads to dropout or results that aren’t maintainable. My most recent visit to the doctor’s was one of the most successful I’d ever had. I weight 15 lbs less than last year, (even less than my senior year of high school which was 25 years ago now) when I was competing in races and all my markers are right where they should be. Cholesterol, blood pressure, heart rate was low and I haven’t been doing that much aerobic conditioning.

3. Increased the intensity of workouts – Whether they are short or even when I do longer duration aerobic style workouts I make sure I add something to make it more challenging than ever before. For example, I was walking the stairs at Harvard Stadium weekly. I increased to running them more. I have a tender ankle so I switched from running to carrying a 30 some odd pound sand bag up and down. This pushes the intensity up closer to the aerobic/anaerobic threshold. Multiple breaks are needed to complete the workout so the exercise is more in the anaerobic zone than aerobic. Promoting fat loss conditioning and an increased aerobic capacity compared to just doing steady state aerobic exercise.

4. Decreased the frequency of weekly workouts – Partly due to having a baby last August, and partly due to my goal changing to overall health and fitness. Baby preceded the goal change, but that is okay. Being at the age where more recovery is needed between intense workouts, this has worked out very well. This is also an example of learning and applying something new. I envision ten years from now my routine changing due to goal change or just due to a more age appropriate program.

5. Prioritizing strength training exercises – I chuckle sometimes when I see Men’s or Women’s Health on Facebook with a link to new and trendy fat blasting exercises only to see them doing a silly combination exercise that isn’t doing what they claim in the least bit. Here is a link

link

to a lower body combination exercise developed by B.J Gaddour. Who I am a big fan of. This exercise is probably difficult to perform, but prioritizing more traditional exercises would be a much more efficient way of gaining fitness.
Here are my priorities each week when I enter the gym.

Lower body pull
Dead lifts and it’s variations
Lower body push
squats and it’s variations
Vertical pull
Pull ups and it’s variations are the only vertical pulling move I perform currently.
Upper body pull
Horizontal rowing variations
Upper body push
Horizontal pressing variations
Vertical push
Occasional overhead pressing and even less frequent bicep, tricep work.

Core exercise:
Stability (planking)
Rotation
Lateral stability
Anterior strength
Posterior strength/extension.

Sounds like a lot, but all this can be covered in approximately a 45-60 minute session, twice per week.

Listening, learning, applying new things and learning from the results is the only way one will achieve maximum health and fitness over their lifetime.

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You Tube post!!!

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GS-FITNESS / CORE BOOT CAMP: SUNDAY MORNINGS AT HARVARD STADIUM.

Join an informal group at Harvard Stadium on Sunday mornings as long as the cover isn’t on. Something called ” the bubble” will go over the top of the stadium during the winter months so the space can be utilized by athletics year round. The bubble usually goes on a week or two after the last football game of the season. Right around December 1st. Look forward to seeing you there.

email gregg@greggsmithfitness.com for more info and to plan to join us.

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