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Resilience Works!: What You Go Through, You Work Through™

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By Ken “SGT Ken®” and Stephanie Weichert

I sat painfully nervous inside a Boeing-747, making our final approach toward the San Francisco International airport after a 13-month tour of duty in Iraq. I had been traveling for 48 hours straight. I would soon be embracing my wife that I had to leave behind only hours after our marriage ceremony, and reconnecting to a strangely peaceful civilian life.

My year away was much like living in the fourth quarter of a challenging football game, but the clock never ran out. My mind was slipping into numerous daydreams of each mission. Looking at the faces of my brothers and sisters in arms, I could tell that I was not alone. All of us were partly still there. We sat silent, covered in grass, grime, sand and sweat. Now it seemed like we were all just waiting for the winning touchdown.

What happens when the game finally ends? When the adrenaline spikes subside and you realize that you will no longer have the support system of your comrades around you, you go home exhausted and uncertain of what lies next. In my case, I went home to an eerily quiet apartment. I needed to learn how to reconnect to life, love, and contentment.

I knew that I would resume teaching fitness classes, however I could not shake the feeling that something inside of me had changed. I was coming home a different person. Each point of connection with my old life felt strange and unfamiliar.

It took time, but I bounced back. Best of all, I realized that I was now a stronger person because I learned from my experiences.

My new mission: Show others how to turn stress into strength and obstacles into opportunities.

I learned some simple strategies to help navigate the homecoming for anyone and to help people in any season of change, uncertainty, and unfamiliarity.

Seven years following my deployment, I graduated from the Master Resilience Trainer course at the University of Pennsylvania School of Positive Psychology. It further reinforced the skills I’d learned by trial and error. These skills can help put you on a fast track to overcoming adversity and navigating uncertainty.

One of the most impactful moments of the course for me was when Dr. Karen Reivich defined Comprehensive Fitness as the combination and balance of five dimensions: Physical, Emotional, Social, Family, and Spiritual. I learned that fitness was not just physical anymore. This new perspective provided a certain validity to the power of emotional fitness. It changed everything for me, even in the way that I trained others.

The results were astounding!

There are two things that can happen when you face an obstacle: fall apart or bounce back. Dr. Martin Seligman, one of the founders of Positive Psychology defines resilience (sometimes called emotional fitness or mental toughness) as the growth experienced when you can face adversity. Resilience is a powerful positive psychology skill that helps you eliminate counter-productive thinking and focus on authentic happiness.

We all have defining moments of change and uncertainty. Best selling author, Dr. Brené Brown, says navigating these times requires a level of vulnerability and courage. You can apply them in major life circumstances like I did or you can also use them with smaller issues that pop up from time to time.

Use the following eight resilience tips to help you navigate through uncertain and challenging times:

Connect for Effect.

A good support system will help you when you face adversity in life. Do your absolute best to strengthen your relationships with family and friends. Know when to ask for help from the people that you care about, and to accept it. Good friends can remind you of your best self, your best traits, your highest goals, and can also reconnect you with your deepest values and beliefs. Write a short list of the people in your support system. Are these people a healthy source of influence for you? Can you rely on them as a source of strength in your life? Write your list now.

Acknowledge the Evidence.

You cannot always control your circumstances, however you can always control your response. Don’t allow counterproductive thinking to overwhelm you when things don’t go as planned. Look at the evidence at hand, and base your decisions on the right perspective. Think back to a situation where you gave a quick reaction. How could you have slowed down and done things differently? How could you have offered a more thoughtful response instead of a reaction? Write it down.

Push for Perspective.

Pain is temporary. It might last for a day, a week, a month, or a year. When we are in the middle of it, it can feel like it will last forever. If you will press forward, eventually your pain will subside. Pushing for perspective means to look at your situation with a broader outlook in order to discover a suitable solution. What is the story you’ve been telling yourself about an uncomfortable situation? Is it helping or hindering you? Consider writing a new version of the old situation, from a position of strength and love. What can you tell yourself that will help put the story to rest and help you move forward.

Champion through Change.

When you bounce back from adversity, you land on higher ground because you learn from the experience. Accepting change will help you to gain clarity in your purpose. Without clarity in your purpose, you cannot see the opportunity in your practice. Circumstances may have changed, you might have changed, but there is still hope for your future. If you want to connect to your deepest sense of purpose, start with your values. Your purpose will always stem from your highest values. Make a list of your top five.

Go for Your Goals.

Discovering and documenting your goals will keep you on the right path toward success. Take advantage of the holidays by brainstorming about what you want to accomplish in life. Come up with a list of at least 50 goals. Keep in mind that is only five goals a year over the next 10 years. The key is to get them out of your head and on to paper. The simple act of writing your goals will help you see things not as they are, but as they can be. Writing your goals helps to turn your thoughts into actions.

Live to Learn.

Resilient people learn how to turn stress into strength and obstacles into opportunities. Search for a solution when you face adversity. Your test in life can become your testimony. In her book Rising Strong, Dr. Brené Brown discusses the notion of a second act. You might have failed at something in your past but your second act is right around the corner. Write down one thing you can do to move closer to your second act.

Opt for Optimism.

Optimistic people live healthier lives and are less likely become overwhelmed with counterproductive thinking. Remember to focus on your purpose and what you want in life, rather than the things that get in your way. Reflect on things that empower you. If you have a critical voice in your head, give yourself permission to stop that voice and to begin saying positive things about your actions and your life. It’s time to believe good things are in store for you. Our experiences will eventually catch up to our beliefs. What do you believe about your future.

Be Your Best.

Wake up, wind up, workout, wind down, and repeat. Spend each day in search of an active lifestyle and make certain to take the time to relax and recover. You are always taking care of others, but in order to be your best you have to take the time to take care of yourself. This means you need make time to exercise regularly and time to rest and recover, so that you will be ready for whatever life throws at you.

Lastly, keep in mind that failure is an event and not who you are. Without challenges in your life, you simply will not grow. Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Indeed, our brokenness leads to our brilliance.

Conclusion

By incorporating these resilience tips into your daily life, you will discover a new passion to pursue your highest purpose and truly rewarding relationships.

Catch Sgt. Ken at canfitpro EAST and make sure to take his course, The Road to Resilience

Join Sgt. Ken for the Boot Camp Instructor Certification Course:

  • 26 May 2019, 9:00am-5:00pm, Session #4002, canfitpro EAST in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 14 August 2019, 8:00am-4:00pm, Session #4002, canfitpro 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

References

Brown, B. (2015). Rising strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution. New York: Spiegel & Grau a division of Random House.

Reivich, K., & Shatté, A. (2003). The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life’s Hurdles. New York: Broadway Books.

Siebert, A. (2005). The resiliency advantage: Master change, thrive under pressure, and bounce back from setbacks. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Seligman, M. E. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. New York: Free Press.

About Sgt. Ken

Ken Weichert (aka SGT Ken®) is an award-winning international speaker, six-time US Army Soldier of the Year, Master Fitness Trainer, Master Resilience Trainer, Counterintelligence Agent and decorated combat veteran. Ken is a CSP™ (Certified Speaking Professional), a member of the National Speakers Association, and a graduate of the John C. Maxwell Coach, Teacher, Trainer and Speaker Course. Ken has trained over one million Service Members and civilians through Operation Fit to Fight, has written over 100 articles for GX®, Backpacker®, Outside®, Health®, and created the Operation Family Fit video series and family fitness kits for the Air National Guard. Ken was awarded the Canadian Fitness Professionals (canfitpro) 2011 Best New Presenter of the Year, the EMPOWER Fitness 2013 Male Presenter of the Year, the IDEA WORLD 2016 Fitness Instructor of the Year, the EMPOWER Fitness 2017 Inspiration Award of the Year, the Canadian Fitness Professionals (canfitpro) 2017 International Presenter of the Year, has been featured numerous times on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox news, and continues to serve as a host for the Fit for Duty show on the Pentagon Channel. Ken was awarded a Letter of Appointment by the Chinese Government, naming him the Ambassador of Health and Fitness for the city of Changsha. Ken was awarded his tenth Army Commendation Medal for creating the Warrior Fit Camp program for the Tennessee Army National Guard Suicide Prevention Task Force, helping thousands of Armed Service Members turn stress into strength and obstacles into opportunities through physical and emotional resiliency coaching and leadership training.

Breaking the Barriers to Build a Better Bench Press; World Class Technique by a World Champion

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By Frances Manias and Jennifer Thompson

The bench press is perhaps one of the most technical lifts to master because it requires unique considerations and presents challenges to both the average strength training athlete and the powerlifter alike.

Beyond the obvious challenges of equipment – most gyms don’t offer the best possible equipment in which to practice and perfect the lift – the mythology surrounding the bench press makes this particular movement inherently difficult to teach.

When performing or coaching the bench press, be sure to identity the purpose of incorporating this movement/exercise in your programming: are you bench pressing for muscular development of the chest, shoulders and triceps, or are you looking to increase your 1 RM?

Also, when it comes to pressing for a competition bench press scenario, the rules of the specific federation/organization must be considered. As an example, both Jennifer and Frances compete within the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation), which requires the head to be on the bench, the feet to be planted on the floor, and the shoulders and buttocks to maintain contact with the bench. As well, the lift must be performed within the commands of the head judge, which include: a “start” command (elbows are locked out and the lifter is in control of the bar), a “press” command (bar is still on the chest) and a “rack” command (the bar is under control and then replaced on the rack after lock out).

Hence, one’s training must incorporate elements of the competition requirements in order to allow the lifter to gain specific proficiency within context of a competitive lift. The most important piece of this equation is often the pause portion of the bench press. It requires that the bar is both under control on the chest and the athlete is in the best possible position to press and lock out the barbell. In order for this to take place, the bench press training must allow the athlete to learn how to do this in the most efficient way possible.

Here are three keys to coaching the bench press to boost strength, power and, ultimately, efficiency in the movement:

Don’t Ignore the Setup

From grip width to creating a solid base of support with the body, from the ground and/or bench itself, the setup is foundational to the success of the bench press. Grip width of the barbell is perhaps the easiest technique modification with which to experiment. Start by measuring the distance from one end of the clavicle (acromion process) to the other.

The distance taken on the barbell between your first fingers – aka the grip width – should be twice the distance measured between your clavicles. For the average person this grip width will give them the biggest mechanical advantage when pressing.

Create the Best Possible Leverage Position

A key factor for a strong bench press is to create the best possible position for pressing by maximizing leverage. This includes: maximizing grip width while still maintaining optimal force production; decreasing the travel distance of the bar to the chest and back to full extension of the elbow flexors by optimizing bar path; and creating an arch.

The most common complaint or concern about leverage creation on the bench press is, “Won’t I hurt my back if I arch?” To which we reply, “The arch is relative to you creating the best possible body position in which to create leverage.” An arch (both a ‘vertical’ arch and a ‘top to bottom’ arch) has to be developed and nurtured, and can’t be at the expense of being able to implement the other techniques, like leg drive or optimal bar path.

This is a Full Body Exercise

Ultimately, between learning how to create tension (both on the bar, and with one’s body/breathing) and putting the concept of leg drive into the descent portion, and subsequent ascent of the barbell, one can experience the bench press quite radically different from a typical bench press. Both the drive of the legs (creating stability and tension on the descent of the bar) and the subsequent “throw” of the barbell in the initial press/ascent contribute greatly to the force production of the bench press. Learning how to consistently apply more than just the chest – or in many instances the anterior deltoid musculature – to include the legs, lats, chest, delts and triceps (think pinky squeeze to finish the lift) is the challenge.

Technique is only perfected with training. Knowing how to lift, how much to lift, how often to lift, along with the implementation of key accessory movements and exercises will be further discussed during the presentation at canfitpro 2019. Join in to learn more about Building a Better Bench Press!

Conclusion

To find out more about the perfect bench press and to take their sessions, catch Jennifer Thompson and Frances Manias at canfitpro2019!

Register for canfitpro 2019 now

About Jennifer Thompson and Frances Manias

Jennifer Thompson is the penultimate competitor. A ten-time International Powerlifting Champion, she is a current World Record Holder in the Bench Press and Total. With 64 World Records over 20 years of competitive powerlifting, Jennifer has a proven track record of continual improvement in the competitive powerlifting arena. Jennifer also has 21 years of teaching experience in the US school systems and she is the Head Coach of the Lincoln Charter High School Powerlifting Team.

Athlete, Coach, Mentor, Entrepreneur, Chief Strength Advocate: Frances Manias has taught, presented and preached within the fields of health, fitness, and wellness for over two decades. She’s represented Team Canada in Bodybuilding and Powerlifting multiple times. Through IronSisters.ca and IronSistersUSA.com, she is reaching women worldwide. Iron Sisters™ are women who are picking up their first barbell today and those that have been lifting for years – even when it wasn’t socially acceptable or encouraged. Young and older, experienced or not, our commonalities are such that “WE HAVE THE STRENGTH TO GO IT ALONE, BUT KNOW THAT SISTERHOOD IS BETTER.”

The Champion’s Challenge: Burn 300 Calories in 30 minutes

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By Ken “SGT Ken®” Weichert

“Your struggle today is your strength tomorrow.”

Our Little League Baseball team kneeled in front of me for some encouraging words after a difficult loss last Saturday. Some looked sad and others frustrated, but all were desperately seeking some sort of approval for the their extraordinary efforts during the game and guidance for the way ahead.

These 9-year-old boys experienced more than several strikeouts and missed catches today. This was a life learning experience for every player, as well as a moment for me as their Head Coach to strengthen their self-esteem and show them how to turn an obstacle into an opportunity.

I told them a short story about how I was on a Pop Warner football team that lost every game of the season, even though we had a young but already tremendously talented Deion Sanders on our starting lineup. The next season we won all but two games. The season after that, we were undefeated and won the championship.

We turned our setbacks into comebacks.

I continued, “There are two things that can happen to you when you face an obstacle of any kind, fall apart or bounce back.”

I paused and looked at them intently before asking, “When you bounce back, do you bounce back to where you were before.”

One player said profoundly, “No. You learn from what you face in life.”

“Exactly! What you go through, your GROW through. That’s resilience.”

“You can either let this game make you bitter…or better. Which will you choose?” I asked.

“BETTER!” They responded.

“Your parents and Coaches know that you all want to be great at this sport. Hear me when I say that being great does not mean to be better than anyone else – it means to be better than you used to be. Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. All we ask is that you do your best to be better every day.” I said.

“We suggest that you strengthen your sports-specific skills whenever and wherever you can, and not just at our practice sessions. Perform your exercises and technical drills 5-6 days a week because proper preparation provides peak performance. Make mobility and movement mastery a part of your life.” I said.

“The bottom line is that life does not give you what you want – it gives you what you deserve. And what you deserve, is what you work for and earn.”

“Yes, Coach!” They responded.

Pushing for Power with the World as Your Playground

Former National Football League (NFL) running back, Emmitt Smith, was known for performing quick and explosive workouts that required little or no use of exercise equipment. We can learn a lot from his example. His physical strength, power and endurance helped him lead the Dallas Cowboys to three Super Bowl victories (1993, 1994 and 1996) and he is ranked #1 in the all-time rushing leader list with 18,355 yards.

Smith once said, “All men are created equal. Some work harder in preseason.”

Smith made mobility training and personal fitness a daily way of life. Wherever he felt like exercising, immediately became his power-building playground.

Whether you are stuck at work with little time to jump into the gym or at home with the kids safely asleep, perform the following fitness quick fix to win the war against unwanted weight gain:

CHAMPION’S CHALLENGE

 WARM-UP PHASE

 Calisthenics: Perform 4-6 minutes of calisthenics, such as running in-place, Side-Straddle-Hops “Jumping Jacks” or jumping rope in order to warm-up the body.

Dynamic stretching: Perform 2-4 minutes of dynamic flexibility exercises, such as Knee Lifts, Hip Stretches, Leg Lifts and Shoulder Rotations.

 WORKOUT PHASE, ROUND ONE

Squats

Primary Muscles Targeted: Gluteus Maximus, Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gastrocnemius

 Start: Stand upright, feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward and hands at your sides.

Actions: Lower your body by bending both knees until you reach 90 degrees of knee flexion with your hips moving backward as if sitting on a chair. Maintain your weight directly over your heels or mid-foot. While you lower your body, raise your arms upward until level with your shoulders, palms facing inward. Return to the start position. Continue until your goal is reached. Inhale through your nose as you lower your body and exhale through your mouth as you return to the start position.

Basic: 10 repetitions

Intermediate: 20 repetitions

Advanced: 30 repetitions

Extreme: 40 repetitions, with a backpack or weight vest

Note: Advanced athletes may choose to hold a medicine ball, kettle bell, dumbbell, or any kind of light-medium weight in their hands while performing the exercise.

 Lunges (Split Squat)

 Primary Muscles Targeted: Gluteus Maximus, Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gastrocnemius, hip flexors

 Start: Start with your left leg on the ground straight in front of you with your left knee slightly bent. Place your right leg straight behind you, balancing on the ball of your right foot. Your upper body is upright with your hands on your hips.

Actions: Lower your body, both knees bending until your forward leg achieves 90-degrees of knee flexion. Maintain your balance in the center. Return to the start position. Continue until your goal is reached. Switch sides and continue. Inhale through your nose as you lower your body and exhale through your mouth as you return to the start position.

 Amplification note: Start from a standing position and lunge forward as you lower your body with each repetition. You can add a torso rotation by twisting your upper body to the left as you step forward with the left foot and twist to the right as you step forward with the right foot.

 Basic: 10 repetitions (each side)

Intermediate: 20 repetitions (each side)

Advanced: 30 repetitions (each side)

Extreme: 40 repetitions, with a backpack or weight vest (each side)

Note: Advanced athletes may choose to hold a medicine ball, kettle bell, dumbbell or any kind of light-medium weight in their hands while performing the exercise.

Vertical Leg Crunches

Primary Muscles Targeted: Rectus Abdominus, Transverse Abdominus

Start: Lay down on your back (supine) on a soft flat surface, arms straight and against the sides of your body, palms on the ground. Elevate your legs and align your feet and knees with your hips, feet flexed. Raise your arms and point your fingers toward your toes. Keep a slight bend in your knees.

Actions: Tighten your abdominal muscles and raise your upper body, reaching your fingers toward your toes. Return to the start position.  Continue until your goal is reached. Exhale through your mouth as you reach upward and inhale through your nose as you return to the start position.

Basic: 20 repetitions

Intermediate: 40 repetitions

Advanced:  60 repetitions

Extreme: 80 repetitions

Push-ups

Primary Muscles Targeted: Anterior and Medial Deltoids, Triceps, Pectorals

Start: Balance your body on your hands and feet with your back and legs forming a straight line. Maintain a neutral spine, feet together or up to 12 inches apart, hands shoulder-width apart, legs and arms straight.

Actions: While keeping your abdominal muscles tight, lower your body straight down by bending both elbows until your upper arms become parallel with the ground. Return to the start position and repeat. Inhale through your nose as you lower your body and exhale through your mouth as you return to the start position.

Basic: 15 repetitions

Intermediate: 30 repetitions

Advanced: 60 repetitions

Extreme: More than 60 repetitions, with a backpack or weight vest on

 Squat, Push-up and Jump Drill

 Primary Muscles Targeted: Gluteus Maximus, Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gastrocnemius

 Start: Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward, hands at your sides, and palms facing inward.

 Actions:

  1. A) Squat until your knees bend 90-degrees and hips move back as if sitting on a chair. Maintain your weight directly over the middle of your feet and heels. Keep your knees aligned with your feet.
  2. B) Reach downward with your arms and place your hands on the ground slightly in front of your feet.
  3. C) Thrust your legs back to a “push-up” position, back and legs forming a straight line, arms straight and head facing forward. Lower your body by bending both elbows until your upper arms are parallel with the ground.
  4. D) Return the to start position and jump vertically as high as you can, arms extended overhead. Continue until your goal is reached.

Modification note: Omit the push-up and perform the Squat-Thrust-Jump only.

 Basic: 10 repetitions

Intermediate: 20 repetitions

Advanced: 30 repetitions

Extreme: 40 repetitions, with a backpack or weight vest

Note: Advanced athletes may choose to hold a medicine ball, kettle bell, dumbbell, or any kind of light-medium weight in their hands while performing the exercise.

COOL-DOWN PHASE

Dynamic or Static Flexibility: Perform 2-4 minutes of dynamic or static flexibility exercises.

Remarks:

  1. MUSCLE TARGETING: Perform these exercises in the specific order given to achieve an athletic conditioning strategy called “muscle targeting” (often referred to as “complimentary exercise choices”). This is where you perform two or more consecutive exercises in the same area of the body to promote muscle fatigue or muscle failure before transitioning to the next section. When transitioning to the next section, you gradually ascend (or descend) along the kinetic chain of the body with each exercise in order to engage more muscle activity.

Example: While performing the Lunge or Split Squat (#2), your primary focus is to engage the legs, hips and gluteal muscles with secondary and stabilization focus on the abdominals. Once complete, your next designated exercise is the Vertical Leg Crunch (#3). The primary focus with the Vertical Leg Crunch is the abdominal muscles, with secondary and stabilization focus on the hips and legs. This means that the primary focus on Lunges became the secondary focus on the Vertical Leg Crunch. This gradual shift allows for sustained muscular engagement in the same area of the body, which results in high volume output.

  1. BREAKS DURING AN EXERCISE: You may take breaks while attempting to complete your exercise repetition goal, providing that the breaks are no longer than 30 seconds each.
  2. BREAKS BETWEEN EXERCISES: Perform each exercise in sequence and allow no more than 2 minutes break in between each exercise.
  3. EXTREME CONDITIONING (SUPERSETTING): To superset, perform little or no break between exercises.

Equipment Needed:

None

Stamina Stopwatch

The Stamina Stopwatch includes the timing estimates for each set of the Champion’s Challenge (does not include the 6-min warm-up and 4-min cool-down).

Quick Fix: 1 full set of 4 rounds = approximately 20 minutes
Double Tap: 2 full sets of 4 rounds = approximately 40 minutes
Triple Threat: 3 full sets of 4 rounds = approximately 60 minutes

Author’s notes:
Warning
: Always seek the advice and guidance of a qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have prior to commencing a fitness program. This article should not be relied on or substituted for professional medical diagnosis or treatment. The exercises presented are for suggestion only. Participate at your own risk. Stop if you feel faint or shortness of breath.

Champion’s Challenge

(6-min warm-up, 20-min workout at 4 rounds, 4-min cool-down = 30 min total)

Download a PDF of the Champions Challenge.

Note: If you don’t have 30 minutes to conduct the entire workout at once, split the rounds up throughout the day.

  1. Program Target: Muscular strength, power and endurance, and aerobic conditioning
  2. Program Type: High-volume Interval Training (HVIT) involves performing a series of exercises at no more than 75% output during a workout at intervals of 60 seconds or up to four minutes, where each drill is followed by a period of rest. This work-to-recovery cycle is repeated several times throughout the workout with the intent to improve overall endurance. Note: Some concerns are being able integrate adequate recovery periods to help sustain optimum performance.
  3. Program Format: Free Circuit fitness training involves performing a series of exercises at different stations for a uniform measure of repetitions during each round, with little to no rest between stations. The objective is to perform the exercises or obstacles as quickly as possible with the intent to achieve the lowest total time for the entire event. An obstacle course is an example of a free-style circuit. Note: Some concerns are being able integrate adequate recovery periods to help sustain optimum performance. Other concerns are the potential risk of injury associated with a compromise of proper by performing each drill too fast or beyond personal ability.
  4. Program option: AMRAP (As Many Repetitions As Possible) during each 60-second exercise interval.

Come join us for the Boot Camp Instructor Certification Course:

  • 26 May 2019, 9:00am-5:00pm, Session #4002, canfitpro EAST in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 14 August 2019, 8:00am-4:00pm, Session #4002, canfitpro 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

We are ready to help you create clarity in your purpose so you can see the opportunity in your practice.

Feel free to reach out with any questions that you may have at sgtken@sgtken.com.

Hooah!
SGT KEN®

If you want some free fitness tips before we see you at one of our events, go to START Fitness!

Bridging the Gap from Rehab to Performance

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By Sue Falsone

Where does rehabilitation end and performance training begin? Can this exact moment be defined? I don’t believe it can be.

In my many roles over the past few years – athletic trainer, physical therapist, strength and conditioning coach, and many more – I have found that at all levels, returning an athlete to play after an injury is a continuum. There are no defined points, official hand-offs, or time lines determining that an athlete has “finished” rehab and is resuming “performance training.”

As such, each individual person involved in the process of returning an athlete to full sports performance needs to not only understand what other professionals are involved in the process, but also to respect what each specialty brings to the table to help get that athlete back to play. Everyone, including the doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist, athletic trainer, massage therapist, the personal trainer, strength coach, and many more can offer insight to help the athlete achieve his/ her goals.

When the athlete is injured during competition, the athletic trainer is the quarterback, determining vitals and the safety of the athletes’ life and limbs. They determine if an athlete can safely return to play, or what type of medical care is needed immediately on the field. They also make the necessary referrals for quick diagnostics to determine what type of injury is going on.

If the patient is post-operative, the doctor might well be the quarterback, dictating precautions and contraindications from the surgery. As the rehab process moves on, the physical therapist takes the lead, assisting the athlete in restoring the fundamentals of strength, range of motion and proprioception. At some point, when the client is ready to move onto different training movements at various loads and speeds, the performance/ strength and conditioning coach might take over. And finally, as that athlete begins to work on the technical and tactical aspects of his/ her sport again, the skill coach can play a lead role in re-familiarizing that athlete with the unique specifics of their sport and position.

In summary, there is no one person who can do everything for the athlete, from on-field evaluation, to post-injury consulting, to the operating room, to skill and technique work at the practice facility, and all the other steps in between. There are many contributors involved in the process, with certain people wearing larger hats at certain times, more than others.

The process of Bridging the Gap from Rehab to Performance (BTG) is inclusionary. It needs to be an athlete centered model, where egos and letters are left at the door, making the patient needs the center of the program. In both parts of these sessions being offered at canfitpro 2019 from August 14-18, 2019, we will discuss each phase of the BTG program, how different skills and philosophies fit and how each of us play a key role in returning an athlete to play.

For more on Bridging The Gap From Rehab to Performance, catch Sue Falsone at canfitpro2019.
Register for canfitpro 2019 now
Save $140 on Early Bird tickets until May 8, 2019.

About Sue Falsone

Sue Falsone

Owner/ Founder of Structure and Function Education
Owner, Falsone Consulting
Associate Professor, Athletic Training Programs, Arizona School of Health Sciences, A.T. Still University
Previous Head of Athletic Training and Sports Performance, US Soccer Men’s National Team
Previous Head Athletic Trainer and Physical Therapist for the Los Angeles
Dodgers
Previous Vice President of Performance Physical Therapy and Team
Sports at Athletes’ Performance (now EXOS)
Current consultant to professional athletes and professional sport organizations
Master of Science in Human Movement with a concentration in Sports Medicine from UNC-Chapel Hill
Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from Daemen College
Board Certified Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy through the APTA
Certified Athletic Trainer through the NATBOC
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA
Certified Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapist in the Spine through theIAOM-US
Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance, 200- Hour teacher training

Movement of the Month: Single Arm DB Frontal Plane Deadlift

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With Coach Kennedy

With summer just around the corner, many are now taking action to be ready for the summer ahead. With that said, we get to a point where exercise can be repetitive and while we may not want to make huge changes, for various reasons….sometimes small ones make all of the difference. While the prime focus remains the same, the benefits can greatly increase.

The Single Arm (SA) DB Frontal Plane Deadlift is a great example of taking a fundamental exercise and by adding in a second plane – frontal – it now becomes a multi-planar movement deadlift. Multi-planar deadlifts, to my knowledge, are very rarely done, but don’t take my word for it, just look around any gym, studio etc.…you’ll definitely see plenty of deadlifts being done, but in the sagittal plane, and with barbells.

Let’s chat benefits of your deadlift. When beginning with the barbell on the ground, it places your upper leg group of muscles into a lengthened position. This means they receive no “pre-stretch”. In other words, they are already lengthened so we can’t take advantage of elastic energy, and it forces us to create strength from a fixed starting position. We call it “starting strength”.

Think of a lineman in football. Think about pushing a car out of the snow. We don’t have the ability to load and preload as we would when we’re performing a squat. We can control and load on the way down and then reverse with momentum if we like (elastic energy). That makes coming back easy in comparison to stopping at the bottom for a few seconds then coming up…getting out of your car, your chair. I think you get the point.

The deadlift is great for preparing the body for lifting. It’s a reminder that it’s all in the legs, not in your back! It’s an example, even though it’s a linear movement, of how you need to sequence the feet with your core and upper body for the safest and strongest lifts. It’s integrated as far as I’m concerned, it’s closed chain, and its benefits transfer to life and sport. That makes it functional.

Now, once we add the element of using a single DB and throw a second plane into the mix we add additional benefits: I’ll discuss two.

  1. Using the single DB now means the body needs to create equilibrium. One side is loaded, the other is not. This means a stronger focus on proper core activation in a contralateral pattern (x-cross body) and integration of the entire kinetic chain to help create stability. Stability drives force and safety. As well, because we are moving in two planes we are also creating strength and tissue resiliency in those multiple planes. That means when you go down, or twist around to pick something up you’ll GREATLY decrease the chances of injury. Remember…you’re only strong in the direction you train.
  2. Lastly, it’s fun. It gives participants a sense of power, control, accomplishment and strength when they lift! That means they stick to exercise, which is the Prime Directive. Get people moving.

Exercise Execution: Begin by standing with feet hip width apart, soft knees, core braced, shoulders set (elevate, protract, depress) while holding a DB in your right hand. Take a lateral step with the left leg towards your left. As your foot makes contact with the ground, create a small bend in the knee (just as you would in a stiff legged deadlift), hinge at the hips and go into your deadlift. Once you reach the bottom of the lift, begin hinging at hips, lift the left foot slightly off the floor as you reverse the movement and end up back into your starting position. Repeat for 30 seconds. Switch sides.

Exercise Protocol: I find that when performing movement based/ multi-planar exercises like this they work best based on time. Generally, 30 seconds per side. Yes, you can also count reps if you like – generally, 6-10 per side.

Apply exercise based on your client’s fitness level.  In other words, regress and progress as required.

Reach out anytime about this or anything fitness related: kennedy@coachkennedyonline.ca.

Bio

Coach Kennedy (Kennedy Lodato) is a 27-year veteran of the fitness industry with a thirst for knowledge and a passion for teaching and running his CK Mentorships, CK Private Coaching sessions and Fitness Educator of LIVE education to the fitness industry.

Before pursuing the role of Fitness Educator, he occupied the positions of Personal Trainer, Sport Conditioning Coach and Personal Trainer Manager. Kennedy is a three-time recipient of the canfitpro PRO TRAINER of the year award, co-founder of the CFEA-Canadian Fitness Education Alliance and master instructor for various industry companies including canfitpro and EBFA Global (Evidence Based Fitness Academy). For more information visit at www.KennedyLodato.com

Think (and Move) Outside the Core Box!

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By Kathleen Trotter, FIS, PTS

Planks, side planks, V holds, bird dogs — all are excellent functional core exercises. The problem is, on the millionth repetition, even the most amazing move can feel dead boring, and in my experience, boredom is the kiss of workout death.

I am not suggesting you let your clients off the “core hook”; planks and bird dogs are their “broccoli,” and it is your job to make them eat their broccoli, but it is also your job to program appropriately. If you know a basic plank is what a client needs, great, stick with that. But when you KNOW a client can handle an extra push or thrives on variety, it is your job to find an appropriate challenge. My suggestion? Try the pyramid add-on.

When I do add-on sets, I pick a base exercise and a rest exercise. The rest exercise isn’t easy, it just doesn’t work the same muscles as the base exercise. To do the workout you simply alternate the base exercise with the rest exercise. Each time you do
the base move, you add on a variation. To make the add-on set a core challenge, the base exercise should (obviously) primarily work the core.

Below is my favourite add-on core extravaganza. Send me a note after you try it — let me know how many eye rolls and dirty looks came your way!

Programing details

I have used a 10-second front plank as my base (other options include a side plank or a V hold) and a 15 second squat hold as my rest exercise (other options include a plié hold or cardio exercises such as jumping jacks or high knees). Once your client can do the full routine with perfect form, try the sequence doing a longer plank hold, 2 or 3 repetitions of each add-on, and/or a 20 to 60 second squat hold.

Core pyramid extravaganza!

Start standing. Bend over to walk your hands forward into a plank. Hold for 10 seconds. This is the base exercise.

Now, walk your hands back toward your feet and, without standing all the way up, hold a squat. Keep your chest out, core engaged, knees in line with your middle toes, and lower back neutral. This is your rest exercise. (Note, after each add on you hold a squat for 15 seconds before walking forward into the plank to start the sequence again.)

Add on 1. Walk-outs: After holding the basic plank for 10 seconds, add on walk-outs. In a plank position walk your right hand in front of you, then your left. Then place your right hand back to its starting position underneath you, then your left. Repeat starting with your left hand.

Walk your hands back toward your feet. Hold your low squat for 15 seconds.

Add on 2. Shoulder taps: Walk forward into a plank. Hold for 10 seconds. Do one walk-out starting with each hand.

Then add on shoulder taps. Keep your hips stable as you touch your right hand to your left shoulder and then your left hand to your right shoulder.

Walk your hands back toward your feet. Hold your low squat.

Add on 3. Leg extensions: Repeat the above sequence. Then, holding your plank — core engaged and pelvis stable — engage your right glute muscle to lift your right leg off the floor. Hold for 5 seconds, then repeat with your left leg.

Walk your hands back toward your feet. Hold your low squat.

Add on 4. Leg abductions: Repeat the sequence. Then do one leg abduction with each leg. Holding your plank — core engaged and pelvis stable — engage your right glute muscle to lift your right leg off the floor and out to the side. Hold for 5 seconds, then repeat with your left leg.

Walk your hands back toward your feet. Hold your low squat.

Add-on 5. Knee tucks: This is your final add on. Repeat the entire sequence then do one knee tuck with each leg. Hold your plank as you bring one knee into your chest. Count to five. Repeat with the other leg.

Walk your hands back toward your feet. Hold your low squat.

Push your client through one cardio Tabata set (4 minutes of alternating 20 seconds of hard cardio with 10 seconds of rest). If appropriate, walk your client through the entire core sequence again.

For more “out of the box” workouts, check out my most recent book, Your Fittest Future Self!

Final note

Add-on sets are not for newbies. Inherent to this method of training is adding on to a base move. Your client needs to have mastered the base move — with perfect form — before you add anything on. So, for example, before trying the above workout, make sure your client has mastered the basic plank first.

Basic plank: Balance on hands and toes — shoulders, hips, and feet should form a straight line. Lower back stays neutral. If you put a foam roller lengthwise along your client’s back, the roller should touch the back of their skull, upper back, and sacrum. There should be a small space between the roll and the lower back and cervical spine. Make sure your client keeps their core engaged the entire time; lower abdominals pull “wide to the hip bones” as if pulling taffy across the pelvis.

Bio
Kathleen Trotter holds a masters in Exercise Science, is the author of two books including the new book Your Fittest Future Self, and is a Personal trainer, Nutritionist, Pilates Specialist and Life Coach.

 

 

 

KathlenTrotter.com
Twitter: @KTrotterFitness
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FB: https://www.facebook.com/KathleenTrotter/

The Top 10 Tips to Beat the Heat

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By Ken “SGT Ken®” Weichert

Trouble on the Trail

I could not believe this was happening! I had all of the classic symptoms of heat exhaustion—muscle cramps, nausea, weakness, headache, dizziness and confusion. Worst of all, I decided to hike this unrelenting trail alone.

It was a beautiful summer Saturday in Northern California, just north of San Francisco, California. I decided to trek the trails in Muir Woods to get a good workout. I often invite friends and properly prepare for each path. This time, however, I grabbed an 8-ounce water bottle and set out solo to trail run six miles.

I normally try to beat the heat by working out before sunrise, but this time I slept in. I thought I would be okay at midday. I felt fantastic after the first three miles, so I decided to change routes and double my distance (12 miles). I thought to myself, “At this rate, I will be back in no time.”

I was wrong.

“It’s better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have.” Franz Kafka

It was one of the rare times in my life that I did not practice what I preach. I was far from any ranger station, alone, and out of water at the other side of the mountain. Bottom line, I was in trouble!

To be continued…

Top 10 Tips to Beat the Heat Head On

  1. Win with Water. Drink more fluids than usual. Consume 16 ounces of room-temperature water 30 minutes before exercising, and drink 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes. Drinking enough fluids during exercise helps improve heart function, maintain kidney function and lower the core temperature of the body. Dehydration can stress the heart and reduce the ability of the kidneys to maintain the correct balance of electrolytes. Athletes may want to take mineral supplements such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. These nutrients can be found in dark, leafy greens; nuts; seeds; whole grains; sea vegetables; blackstrap molasses and bananas.
  2. Learn to love lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothes. Dark, tight or thick clothes hold in heat and don’t let your body cool properly, and they inhibit sweat evaporation.
  3. Always acclimate. Sometimes it can take several weeks for your body to get used to the heat. If you have been working out inside all the time, don’t dash for your first marathon. You might want to walk briskly your first time under the sun and monitor how you feel.
  4. See the sunrise. Get up early and work out in the morning. The temperatures are lower before sunrise and after sunset. Working out in the morning also jump-starts your metabolism, making it possible for you to burn more calories throughout the day. What a great excuse to see the sunrise!
  5. Stop the sunburn. I always hike with a lightweight, wide-brimmed hat to protect myself from the sun, and I apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 45 to any exposed skin. Sunburned skin reduces your ability to get rid of the heat.
  6. You and your urine. A good way to determine your level of hydration is to monitor your urine. It should appear to be lighter than lemonade and never dark and cloudy like apple juice.
  7. Try to find a shady spot for your car. On a hot day in the direct sun, the temperature in your parked car can rise 20 degrees Fahrenheit in approximately 10 minutes. Let your car cool off before you drive it.
  8. Tub time. After strenuous sports under the sweltering sun, it is great to soak in some tepid water. Taking a bath is a great way to lower your core temperature and stop the sweating.
  9. Always have a Plan B. Being in an air-conditioned building is one of the best ways to prevent heat exhaustion. If the heat is too high outside, it might be wise to work out inside instead.
  10. Prescription precautions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether the medications you take make you more susceptible to heat exhaustion and, if so, what you can do to keep your body from overheating.

Turmoil at Mile Ten

My headache increased and my vision blurred. I was in the open, several miles beyond the cover of the trees. My mind started to drift a bit.

I remembered the things my drill sergeant taught me years ago about what to look for while in a hot environment:

  1. Heat cramps. Heat cramps are painful muscle contractions, mainly affecting the calves, quadriceps and abdominals. Affected muscles may feel firm to the touch. Your body temperature may be normal.
  2. Heat exhaustion. With heat exhaustion, your body temperature rises as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit and you may experience nausea; vomiting; headache; fainting; weakness; and cold, clammy skin. If left untreated, this can lead to heatstroke.
  3. Heatstroke. Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency condition that occurs when your body temperature is greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Your skin may be hot, but your body may stop sweating to help cool you down. You may develop confusion and irritability. You need immediate medical attention to prevent brain damage, organ failure or even death.

The Wonder of Water

Mad at myself! I normally plan for the worst and hope for the best. I trekked these trails several times in the past without any problem. Today, however, was one of the hottest days of the year. I needed fluids and to cool down fast.

I sat down in the middle of the open trail and tried to shield myself from the sun with my shirt. My mind was telling me that sitting in the sun for a while might make it better. I drifted off into a daze. My yearning for sleep was uncontrollable.

“You okay, dude?”

I opened my eyes and found a hiker with his dog staring down at me. My watch indicated that I had been asleep for 30 minutes. I noticed that I was sunburned on several exposed areas of my body.

“Water?” I asked in a low raspy voice.

He immediately pulled his second canteen.

Water never tasted so good! I remembered to sip it, instead of giving into the urge to gulp it down. After several moments of sipping water and talking to my newfound friend, I stood up slowly and walked with him for five miles until we reached a ranger station. I thanked the hiker multiple times and found the ranger on duty.

The ranger looked me over, and determined that I did not need urgent care. He drove me to my car, parked at the other ranger station approximately 10 miles away. He monitored me while on the drive. He wanted to be certain that I would be able to drive home on my own without any problems.

I decided to find an air-conditioned place close to the ranger station to eat some lunch. Once hydrated and fed, I drove home, took a bath, dried my body and took and a nap.

Check on Learning

Proper preparation provides peak performance.

Use the Top 10 Tips to Beat the Heat Head-on to make your exercise routine exceedingly safe and extremely effective.

Be a victor, not a victim.

Want some free fitness tips, go to http://www.startfitness.com/workouts.

 

REFERENCES

Tips for preventing heat-related illness. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heattips.html. Accessed Jan. 27, 2017.

Heat and athletes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/athletes.html. Accessed Jan. 27, 2017.

Hyperthermia: Too hot for your health. National Institute on Aging. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/hyperthermia. Accessed Jan. 27, 2017.

Warning signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/warning.html. Accessed Jan. 27, 2017.

O’Connor FG, et al. Exertional heat illness in adolescents and adults: Epidemiology, thermoregulation, risk factors, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 27, 2017.

O’Connor FG, et al. Exertional heat illness in adolescents and adults: Management and prevention. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 27, 2017.

Mechem CC. Severe nonexertional hyperthermia (classic heat stroke) in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 27, 2017.

Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 3, 2017.

Headquarters, Department of the US Army. STP 21-1-SMCT, Level 1. Task 081-831-1008, Perform First Aid for Heat Injuries. Assessed June 2009.

 

 

5 Tips to Get Through Your Midday Slump

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By Dr. Eudene Harry, MD

We have all felt it. After lunchtime, you’re lethargic, tired, and constantly checking the clock waiting for the day to be over. Don’t let your day be ruined by the afternoon lull! Here are some quick tips to avoid the midday slump and allow you to end your day rejuvenated!

 Spend 5 Minutes in Nature

According to a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology in 2019, 5 minutes sitting in nature improves moods, decreases negative feelings and increases your sense of being  in awe and wonder at being a part of something bigger than yourself. If you have more time, combine nature with exercise. This can include hiking or simply taking a walk through a park lined with trees. This can reduce your heart rate and improve your ability to recover from stressful events

 Bring the Outdoors In

Feeling overwhelmed and can’t leave the building? Hang paintings of nature scenes on the walls; look out a window or a nature scene on your video device. It seems that even the picture of nature had the potential to reduce feelings of stress. If you are able to, get a room with a view.

 Break Out That Adult Coloring Book

Can’t absorb any new information? Take a break and pull out the coloring book. This distraction gives the brain the space it needs to tackle the problem while you focus on the joys of choosing the colors that make you feel better. Hint; choose yellow and other bright colors if you need a pick me up.

 Incorporate Natural Mid-Afternoon Boosts

Grab some green tea, it is high in antioxidants, contains a little caffeine and also has an ingredient that can help create a sense of calm. If you combine this with a little aromatherapy, either peppermint or lemon to quick lift, or lavender to keep the calm going, you might find yourself feeling better after a quick 10 minute break.

 Quick Exercises to Do At Your Desk

Here are two quick exercises that help to release stress and restore a sense of calm, while improving moods. First, do any exercise that helps to get the heart rate up a little bit to get blood pumping while also releasing energy and frustration – for example, the rocking downward dog or quick triceps extensions using a chair. Both do not require a lot of space. Then follow with a stretch that helps to relieve the tension. Shrug shoulders up to ears and gently rotate forward then backwards. Follow this with an open stance, arms open wide and slightly raised as if to open yourself up to receive warmth, love and support, then simply cross your arms around your shoulders and give yourself a hug. Cross your arms until you feel the muscles in the upper back gentle stretch and start relieving some of that built up tension. After all, we do tend to carry a lot of stress in the upper back and neck. Bonus, hugs help to relieve stress and improve moods.

 Laugh & Breathe

It’s as simple as laughing. It decreases cortisol levels and improves moods. Watch a funny clip or even more simply, record a baby’s laughter and listen to it. That sound of pure joy and wonder can bring a smile back to your face and do wonders for your mood. Lastly, practice stopping and breathing – four counts in, hold for four and release for four. Do this about four times and feel the stress slowly ebb away.

Bio

Eudene Harry, MD, is the medical director for Oasis Wellness and Rejuvenation Center, a wellness practice devoted to integrative holistic care. She is a veteran physician with over 20 years of experience. Dr. Harry earned her medical degree and performed her residency at Thomas Jefferson University.

Dr. Harry is the author of three books designed to empower the individual to get started on their path to optimal health. Her most recent book, Be Iconic: How to be Healthy and Sexy at Any Age is available on Amazon. She has published extensively on the topics of reducing stress, healthy lifestyle choices, and regaining youthfulness. She regularly contributes to television and radio shows nationwide.

Connect with Dr. Harry on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. To learn more about Dr. Harry please visit, www.drharrymd.com

Hard-Core!

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By Cat Kom

Shhhh…we’ve got a secret, and it’s a doozy.

It’s all to do with getting that sleeker, slimmer waist – the one that people spend hours upon hours, angrily doing crunches trying to achieve. But the secret, in fact, lies in an often-overlooked set of muscles sitting deep within your core. They’re called the transverse abdominus muscles and have been called everything from the ‘abdominal corset muscles’ to the ‘body’s natural girdle’. Sometimes, they’re even referred to the ‘Spanx of the Body’!

Working out core muscles like the rectus abdominus or obliques tend to make your belly jut out, without actually reducing the size of your waist. And that’s where the transverse abdominus comes in – not only do these wonder muscles tighten your midsection, they also help with stability, posture, breathing and lower back strength. The question is: is there anything the transverse abdominus muscles can’t do?

With that said, let’s take a look at five essential transverse ab exercises to get that lean, slender look you’ve always wanted.

  1. Plank

Not surprisingly, the plank is one of the best transverse abdominus exercises around. The keys to getting results from the plank are time and form. You want to hold your plank for as long as you can, increasing over time, while always maintaining proper form. When your form starts to break down, that’s a good sign you’ve had enough and it’s time for a rest.

To perform the plank:

  • Begin laying face down on your stomach
  • Lift yourself up onto your elbows and toes
  • Keep your spine flat, with your buttocks in-line with your body
  • Try to stare straight ahead of you, making sure you don’t strain your neck
  • Hold for 5-10 seconds to start, then lower yourself back down
  • Gradually increase your duration by 5 seconds with each rep
  • Repeat 3 times

 

  1. Supine Leg Extension

This powerhouse move reveals just how important the legs can be for strengthening your core. Our legs not only act as anchors for balance, but as counterweights, working the core while you stabilize.

To perform the supine leg extension:

  • Begin by lying on your back, knees bent and suspended above you
  • Extend one leg and hold it 4 inches above the floor
  • Raise your opposite arm above your head
  • Hold both your arm and leg in this position for 2 seconds
  • Repeat on opposite side
  • Do 15 reps each side!
  1. Glute Bridge

This multi-muscle-hitting exercise hits the transverse abdominus, but also several parts of the lower body, including the glutes and hamstrings. Do this right, and often, and we guarantee, you will feel this.

To perform the glute bridge:

  • Lay on your back, with knees bent and feet on the floor
  • Place your feet as close as you can to your glutes
  • Lift your buttocks off the ground, thrusting your hips upward
  • Engage your quads
  • Hold your position for 1-2 seconds and release
  • Repeat this exercise 15x
  1. Quadruped Lift

This exercise, lovingly referred to as the bird dog, is similar to the supine leg extension, but reversed. The trick here is to keep your head straight, and eyes looking forward, not on the ground as most people tend to do.

To perform the quadruped lift:

  • Position yourself on your hands and knees
  • Extend one leg directly behind you, keeping it as straight as possible
  • Extend the opposite arm directly in front of you, also as straight as possible
  • Hold for 5 seconds
  • Switch to the opposite arm/leg and repeat
  • Repeat each exercise 10x on each side
  1. Russian Twist

You may not know the name, but you’ve definitely seen the Russian twist performed, usually by some svelte-looking gym hero. Now it’s your turn. This is one of the hardest, most effective transverse abdominus exercises you can do. Let it be known: you WILL be sore afterwards.

To perform the Russian twist:

  • Start in a seated position
  • Raise your feet several inches
  • Lean back at a slight angle
  • Intertwine your fingers
  • Twist from side to side, making sure to keep your core tight
  • Your goal should be to touch your knuckles on the floor with each rep
  • Repeat 30x, touching each side 15x

Phew! That’s a lot. Don’t believe us? Try it. With these powerful transverse abdominus ab exercises, you will access your core, your deeper core, your super deep core, and everything in between. And when you start focusing on these amazing corset muscles, you’ll see the kind of results you’ve been waiting for.

But what about everything else? If you want a more full-body experience from the comfort of your living room, sign up for a 7-Day Free Trial with Studio SWEAT OnDemand. With hundreds of streaming classes available, including abs, sculpting, cycling, yoga, TRX, Pilates and more, you’re on your way to becoming a hard-core gym hero.

Bio

Cat Kom, is a celebrated expert in the fitness world, who is also the founder of Studio SWEAT onDemand, a fitness studio based in San Diego, California, that streams workouts that can be accessed through their app, any internet browser, Roku and many others.

 

3 Ways to Love Bell Peppers

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Spring is in the air, a time to change things up – be it your workout routine, or your mealtime line-up. And, if getting more veggies on your plate is a top wellness priority, here are three tasty and simple ways to enjoy vitamin C-packed bell peppers, now in stores thanks to greenhouses!

1. SUPER SNACKS: Use bell peppers as a vessel for dips.

When peppers are cut top to bottom in six segments, you get finger-like “boats,” perfect for filling with:

  • hummus topped with grated carrot;
  • bean salsa topped with feta cheese;
  • egg salad topped with green onion;
  • tuna salad topped with pea shoots;
  • salmon salad topped with arugula

Good to know: Red peppers pack more vitamin C than green peppers.

Red is tops for vitamins A and C. In just half of a red pepper, you get 47% of the Daily Value for vitamin A, (seven times more than green peppers), and a whopping 158% Daily Value for vitamin C. And half of a green pepper provides 100% of the Daily Value for vitamin C. Impressive right?

2. BETTER BREAKFAST: Egg baked roasted peppers with feta and spinach

A stuffed bell pepper gives you a serving of veggies right out of the gate first thing in the morning. You’ve got to love that!

  • Halve and core a large bell pepper. Arrange peppers, cut side down, on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in a 425°F oven until slightly softened, (about 10 minutes).
  • Turn peppers cut side up. Sprinkle each pepper half with crumbled feta cheese and a few spinach leaves cut into thin ribbons, then crack one egg into each pepper half. Sprinkle eggs with salt and pepper.
  • Return peppers to oven and continue to bake until egg whites are just set and yolks are still runny, (about 10 minutes). Sprinkle eggs with green onions, thinly sliced. Serve and enjoy!

Good to know: Bell pepper flavour-boosters.

Get creative in the kitchen by pairing peppers with:

  • Basil, flat leaf parsley, cilantro, lemongrass;
  • Thyme, rosemary, fennel and Tobasco sauce;
  • Smoked paprika, mustard, curry, cumin.

3. SIMPLE DINNER: Trout sheet pan dinner with peppers.

This is a go-to weeknight dinner at my house, and for good reason: it tastes awesome and there is only one pan to wash! This recipe is easy to scale back too.

  • Place one can of lentils (rinsed), 1½ lbs green beans (ends trimmed), and two sweet red peppers seeded and thinly sliced on a large rimmed parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • In a bowl, whisk together 2 tbsp. canola oil and 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard. Brush half of the mustard mixture all over the green beans, peppers and lentils. Toss to coat. Sprinkle ½ tsp. of salt and pepper over the vegetables and lentils. Arrange 2 lbs of trout fillets, skin side down, on top of the vegetables and lentils. Brush remaining mustard mixture over the fillets. Sprinkle ¼ tsp. each of salt and pepper over the fillets.
  • Roast vegetables and trout fillets in a 425°F oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle on two green onions, thinly sliced over fillets before serving.

Good to know:  Save money and curb your food waste by storing peppers right.

Green peppers tend to last the longest so use up the red, yellow and orange peppers first. Store in a plastic bag in the crisper of the fridge, and because water/moisture causes decay to set in quickly, do not wash until ready to use:

  • whole raw peppers keep for 1-2 weeks;
  • raw chopped 2-3 days and;
  • cooked 3-5 days.

Bio

Carol Harrison is a registered dietitian who loves her daily workouts!

She has a food nutrition communications company in Toronto.

Follow Carol on Twitter and IG:  @greatmealideas