Archives for 2012

4 Awesome Home Workouts to Get You Moving!

Well, the holiday season is upon us and with that comes parties, family and a noticable lack of time to go to the gym! Well, I’m going to solve all that for you and give you a few workouts you can do at home with nothing but your own bodyweight and maybe a timer.

1. Tabatas – Tabatas are a timing protocol where you will perform an exercise at a very high intensity for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. You perform that 20-10 combination 8 times for a quick, but intense, 4 minute workout. You can do it with all sorts of different exercises. I like to do it with two exercises and then alternate them. Like Squats and Pushups. Short shuttle runs work well, too.

2. Countdowns – Alternate two opposing exercises like Vertical Jumps and Pushups and do 10 reps of each, then 9 reps of each, then 8 etc. all the way down to 1. If you’re feeling particularly good you can go back up to 10.

3. Hill Sprints – This is simply one of the best, and simplest, workouts you can do. Go to the bottom of a hill. Run up it. Walk down and repeat. Hill sprints are great for conditioning and they’re also much easier on the joints then flat running.

4. My Ten Rep Workout – Very simple. Do 10 reps each of vertical jumps, squats, lunges with each leg, pushups and hold a 20-30 second plank. If you have a pullup bar throw in pullups as well. If you can’t do regular pullups, do jumping pullups. Wait one minute and repeat for 2-4 more sets.
You’ve just worked your explosive muscle fibers, legs, hips, arms, shoulders, back and core.

If you have any questions, just let me know. Have a great holiday!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach
Discover Your Strength!

Survive and Thrive During the Holidays!

As the stress goes up pain usually does as well. The holidays can bring joy and good cheer but they can also bring your no good Cousin Bill out of the woodwork to eat all your food and frighten your kids. You can usually get Cousin Bill out of the house after the pumpkin pie is finished but the stress sticks around when you think of seeing him on Christmas.
With stress comes a host of things that cause issues. Cortisol levels in our body rise which increases inflammation. Most people carry stress in their shoulders which can lead to distorted posture and shoulder and back pain. Our energy level drops and that causes us to stop doing the things that are most important when we feel this way: exercise and eating healthy. This all leads to more pain and discomfort.
What I want to do today is give you some ideas to relieve some of the pain that develops at these times.  
1. Keep doing the things you should be doing. The worst time to jump off the “healthy habits” bandwagon is when you’re under stress. All that will do is make you feel even more stressed. You know these things are going to happen, so mentally plan for them and schedule your time accordingly. And what better time to leave for the gym then when Cousin Bill is going to come by looking for leftovers?
2. Get your soft tissue work in. You can go for a massage or use your foam roller (if you don’t know what that is or how to use one, go here). All of that stress creates tightness and good soft tissue work helps break that down. Soft tissue work increases flexibility, mobility, circulation and gives you a laundry list of other benefits. If you still haven’t gotten on the foam roller bandwagon GET ON IT NOW!! Your body will dislike you a little at first, but will love you soon after.
3. Work those hips! I liken the hips to a door. You can have the best door made out of the most beautiful oak and a strong door frame to hang it from, but if the hinge is made out of cheap metal and breaks, then you have a lousy door. Your hips are the hinge. Most of us have tight, immobile hips because we sit for so much of the day. People don’t realize that most back pain doesn’t come from back issues, it comes from poor hip function, so stand up, get moving and get stretching. Good hips will make your whole body function and feel better.
4. Work those shoulders! If the hips are number one in making your body feel better than your shoulders are 1A. If you carry stress in your shoulders, as most people do, that causes tightness in the trapezius/neck area. That leads to all sorts of fun stuff like rotator cuff injuries, back pain, headaches, more stress and bad posture. In other words, the stress in your shoulders begets more stress in your shoulders! Not good. The most important thing to improve your shoulder posture is awareness, so be aware of keeping your body in the “chest up, shoulders down” position. That will make a huge difference. As a bonus it will look like you lost some weight, too!
5. Just go with it. Sometimes the holidays require us to do some things we might not necessarily want to do. Just do your best to go with it. You don’t have a choice so do your best to enjoy the time.
6. Enjoy yourself. At the end of the day the holidays should be about enjoying yourself and being thankful for what you have. Don’t forget that!

Happy Holidays!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach
Discover Your Strength!

7 Holiday Gift Ideas for the Gym Rat In Your Life

Hi! Every Christmas I write a list so that you can do some shopping for the fitness enthusiast in your life. This year is no exception, so please don’t get your loved one the latest “Butt Lifter” or “Ab Toner” or whatever else you just saw on that infomercial. I’ll give you the lowdown on some stuff that you can get that will really work for your favorite gym rat.

1. Resistance Bands – Over the last year I’ve introduced these to my clients and we use them all the time to get stronger, more mobile, lose weight increase flexibility and have a ton of fun. The bands I recommend aren’t the usual ones you can find in any sporting goods store, though. The ones I use are like really big rubber bands.

You can get  a package here that will give you everything you need to get started including a four-week workout program. You can also go here to download a free e-book about how to develop a stronger core with bands. Who doesn’t like free?
2. Ab Wheel. Oh yes! The only thing I’ve ever seen on an infomercial that actually works! This is a fantastic tool for core training and you can find them just about anywhere for between 10 and 20 bucks. The only thing is that it WILL make you pretty darn sore the first few times you use it, so start off slowly and it does fall into the “advanced” exercise category so be honest about your level before you tear yourself up.
3. ARF wear. Those who know me know how much I love and value our four-legged friends. In fact, as I write this, I have my puppy taking a nap in my lap. Go here to pick up something to help support one of the best animal rescue organizations anywhere: Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation. (I know it’s not fitness related, but that’s OK.)
4. A Blender Bottle. These are, quite simply, the best shaker bottles around! They come with a wire/whisk ball that breaks up your protein powder and mixes it up very well. No more chunky protein shakes! You can find them in just about any supplement/health food store for about $10-$15 depending on the size. I have five and I still need to seach for a clean one!
5. A personal trainer. I can’t let this go without a shameless plug. But seriously, whether it’s me or someone else, a good trainer can get you to your goals faster and safer. Just do your due diligence and find a good one.
6. Eating Well magazine. Everyone knows how important nutrition is to your goals. This magazine focuses on relatively healthy, easy and most importantly, delicious recipes that anyone can make. Even me! For just $9.99 you can get a year subscription to this great magazine. Just go here to get it. 
7. The Men’s Health Book of Power Training by Robert dos Remedios. Put it this way. This book completely changed the way I look at training. If you’re still having a “chest” day and an “arm” day take a look at this book to see another more integrated and functional full-body approach. The author trains hundreds of college athletes a day using the templates found right here. 
Well, I hope that gives you some ideas. Please let me know if you have any questions or need some more suggestions for the people in your life. Have a wonderful holiday season!
Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach
Discover Your Strength!

6 Ways To Keep The Weight Off During The Holidays

1. It’s only three or four days in six weeks. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve, Company Party. That’s it! Don’t use that as an excuse to eat like garbage the rest of the time.

2. No guilt! Enjoy your holidays and don’t feel bad about it. If guilt sets in, you’re much more likely to use that guilt as an excuse to give in and indulge even more.

3. Prepare. The holidays are no secret. You know that Thanksgiving is November 22nd, Christmas is December 25th and New Years Eve is December 31st. Plan it out so that you eat well leading up to those days and can effectively use those days as “reward” days for eating well the rest of the time.

4. Exercise. There is no reason to stop exercising during the holidays. Again it’s just three or four days out of six weeks. Some people will tell me they’re too stressed out with family stuff to exercise now. That’s like saying I’m too sick to take any medicine. In other words, there’s no better way to get away for a little bit a do something positive for you.

5. Set a goal. Just set a goal for yourself that you will not gain weight during the holiday season. Write it down and believe that you will accomplish it. Like any goal, you’ll find yourself subconsciously doing the things you need to do to accomplish it.

6. Look ahead. You know how you’ll feel if you act like everyone else and put on 10 pounds over the next two months. Looking ahead at the end result of tends to keep things in perspective.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach
Discover Your Strength!

15 Minute Workout

Patience Is A Virtue

“Man, this is hard.” – Everyone who has ever tried to change their body.
Our bodies fight with us. It’s that simple. Our bodies don’t care at all that we want to lose weight, or gain weight, or get stronger or faster. It’s a lot easier for our body to stay right where it is. It likes it there. For this reason we have to resort to tricking our body in order to get it to change.  
If we want to get stronger we have to lift really heavy weights to trick our bodies into thinking that we have to do that on a regular basis to survive. If we want to lose weight we have to use more energy than we take in, forcing our body to burn part of itself for fuel. 
Remember, our bodies don’t want to do this. That’s an important thing to realize. Our bodies have a survival mechanism in place that tells it that change takes effort and it’s better to save that effort for getting through those long winters when we don’t know when we’ll be able to kill a Woolly Mammoth for dinner.
Dinner before Safeway was invented
The point I’m trying to make is that whatever we want our bodies to do takes time and effort. Too often people are in it for the quick fix and think that they’ll be able to undo years of bad decisions in a month. It doesn’t work that way. 
Generally speaking, when losing weight you should be shooting for 2 pounds a week. That’s it. It doesn’t get you to the top of The Biggest Loser, but it does get you almost 20 pounds in two months. I’ll bet you know people who haven’t lost 20 pounds in years! 
I’ve experienced this myself as a competitive powerlifter. I recently went through a period where my own training felt  like it was in a bit of a rut. I was starting to feel as if I needed to switch around what I was doing. I was getting impatient.
Well I stuck with it, and over the last month I’ve hit two very big numbers, including one that has been a major goal of mine since I started lifting! My patience was rewarded and I learned something from it.
Too often, people are in it for the quick fix. In today’s society we want everything five minutes ago, but when it comes to changing our body it just doesn’t work that way. Things happen slowly for a reason and in the long run we actually want that to be the case.
For instance, if we lose too much weight at once most of that weight will be either water or muscle. The other thing is that if the body gets a shock like that (and losing a lot of weight quickly is a huge shock to our body) it will fight like heck to get back to where it was before. That’s why people have such a hard time keeping weight off after it’s lost.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that in the words of Marge Simpson, “Slow and steady wins the race”.

Have patience and be consistent and what you want will come to you and, more importantly, it has a better chance of sticking around.

Let me know what you think.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach
Discover YourStrength!

Great Job, Folks!

I write a lot about how to improve your workouts and the things I see in the gym that could be improved upon. Today I want to take a different tact. I want to talk about the good things I’ve been seeing and how some of these things can help everyone do what they are trying to do.

1. Goals. Last week I started a Transformation contest amongst my clients. Overnight, the intensity and focus during their workouts have increased. Why? Goals! When people are focused in on something specific they want, they are much more determined to take the steps that get them there. I see it in myself as well. When I have something definitive I’m working towards, my workouts are much more intense and I get a lot more out of them.

2. Working hard. It’s been said that the worst workout plan performed with intensity will yield better results than the best plan performed with no intensity. I have seen so many people lately, just really working hard at what they are doing. Whether it’s a heavy set of squats, doing two-and-a-half hour workouts to get ready for a physique competition, or someone finally deciding to take control of their health later in life and doing every exercise the best they can, it is really inspiring to me to see the changes that exercise makes in people. It’s why I do what I do and why I love it so much.

3. Deadlifts. Almost all of my clients deadlift. This doesn’t necessarily mean lifting a barbell with a lot of weight off the floor. Sometimes it means lifting a single 10 dumbell off a step. I truly believe that deadlifts are the most functional of all exercises. After all, who doesn’t need to lift something off the floor from time to time? Having said that, the amount of times I’ve seen someone in a regular gym deadlift can probably be counted on one hand. Imagine my surprise, and delight, when I saw not one, but two, people deadlifting in the gym last weekend! Huzzah to those folks!!! Now everyone else, get on the deadlifting train!

Fun for all ages!

If Arnold loved deadlifting, you should too!

These are just a few things I’ve seen lately that I really love and that inspire me to keep doing what I do.  I’d love to hear about the things that you see that inspire you. Just drop me a line and let me know.
Have a great day!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach
Discover Your Strength!

Figuring out nutrition labels and weighing food

I know that’s a pretty dry title for a blog post, but that’s what this is about, so here we are.
A few people have been asking me about measuring food nutrients, carbs, fats and protein. So I decided to write a quick post about what you want to look for on nutrition labels.
First, though, you need to get a food scale. The one pictured below is the one I have. It measures in both grams and ounces and they carry them at Target. Click here for the link. As of this morning they had them in stock at all of the Targets in the area.
Next, let’s talk about food labels. Below is an example of the nutritional label for black eyed peas.
OK, let’s break it down. One serving size is 200 calories, 1 gram of fat, 36 grams of carbohydrates with 11 of those grams being fiber, and 13 grams of protein.
One of the things people neglect to look at the serving size. It is very common that companies will alter the serving size on their labels to make their food look healthier than it actually is. In the case of this product, the serving size is 172 grams. Here’s how you would figure out the nutritonal breakdown of the amount you’d like to eat.
First, take your handy food scale and set it to measure in grams. Now put the amount you’d like to eat on the scale. Let’s say it weighs 90 grams. How do you figure out how many carbs are in that 90 grams? OK, let’s do some math.
Divide 90 (amount on the scale) by 172 (full serving size). You get .52. That means that 90 grams is 52% of 172 grams. There are 36 grams of carbs per serving so multiply 36 x .52 and you get 18.72. That’s how many grams of carbs are in the 90 grams. Don’t forget to figure in the fiber, as well. 11 grams x .52 = 5.72. 18.72 – 5.72 = 13. So the serving size you have contains 13 grams of carbs.
All in all, it’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it. If you are doing the Carb Nite diet, it’s very important that you have a good knowledge of how to break down the macro-nutrients of what you’re eating. At the beginning it’ll take some work, but as you go along it will become second nature.
Once again on that diet here are the basic rules:
1. Stay under 25 grams of carbs daily.
2. Eat about 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight daily.
3. Eat about 1 gram of fat per pound of bodyweight daily.
Please get familiar with labels. They are your friend.
Have a great day and please let me know if you have any questions.
Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach
Discover Your Strength!

The Full Body Effects of Foam Rolling

Hello, everyone! My goal for today is to make everyone feel better. I like a challenge, though, so all I’m going to use is a foam tube. How am I going to do that? I’ll tell you about how wonderful you’ll feel after using one of these things! I didn’t say I wouldn’t need your help a little.

First, lets talk about what this thing is. It’s called a foam roller and it’s exactly how I described it: a tube made of foam. What do you do with it? Well, that’s where the fun begins! To put it simply, you lay on it and roll. (To see the full sequence I’ll be talking about check out the video posted below.)

If you’ve never used one of these things this may sound strange, but give me a moment and let me tell you what this does. First, though, a quick anatomy lesson. As I’m sure you know, our top layer of tissue is skin and under that, we have muscle. In between is something called fascia. Fascia is a layer of connective tissue that surrounds our muscles and literally runs from the top of our head to the soles of our feet. When everything is working well, our skin, fascia and muscles slide easily against each other, but during the course of life we develop restrictions and knots that prevent that from happening. These are the spots that are sensitive to the touch and feel so good when someone massages them out for us.

That’s essentially what foam rolling does: massages those spots out. As this happens we begin to feel better, move better, and gain flexibility! Sounds great, huh? Of course there is a slight catch. The first few times you do this it might feel a bit uncomfortable. Maybe very uncomfortable. Trust me, though, it will get better. If you do this for even a week, you will notice a pretty big difference and in a few weeks the difference will be huge.

I show all my clients a basic sequence that covers the whole body and takes about 5-7 minutes. Check out the video to see it.

Rollers usually run about $25 and to buy one online, just go here. They come in a few different styles. The white ones are the softest and the black ones are more solid. Initially, the white ones are probably fine, but they do tend to wear out quicker.

If you’d like to know more about these kinds of techniques using a foam roller and other tools you can come to a seminar I’m doing on September 22nd. You can go here for more information and here to sign up.  You can also call or email me with any questions about the seminar or anything else.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach
Discover Your Strength!

Knee Pain: A Very Basic User’s Guide

I was struggling to find a topic for my latest article when my old friend and singer of the unbelievable band Marrow, Erin Fortes, suggested talking about knee pain and how to prevent it. Her suggestion specifically was to discuss weakness in some specific muscle groups and the tendancy of women to develop knee injuries because of that. I’ve decided to open it up a little, though, and talk about the things that I see in people all the time that can lead to knee pain and the things that you can do to prevent and improve it.

1. Get your backside stronger and moving better! The most common thing I see in relation to knee pain is simply that people simply aren’t strong enough through their backside (hips, glutes and hamstrings) and don’t move well through their hips. 

All over our body we have opposing muscle groups on our front and back side. Chest and back. Biceps and triceps, etc. Each muscle group pulls in a certain direction and, in a perfect world, the opposing side has about the same strength. This keeps our bodies balanced. In the case of our knees, we have our quadriceps (the muscles on the front of our upper legs) vs. our hamstrings (the muscles on the back of our upper legs). In today’s world many people have much stronger quadriceps then hamstrings and this creates a pull on the knee joint causing pain.

On top of that, most of us sit in front of our computers all day, which causes some major tightness through the hips. This creates problems with our movement that can also cause knee pain. How do you know if this applies to you? Here’s a quick test to give you an idea. Stand about a foot and half in front of a wall facing away from it with your feet in a nuetral stance. Now try to push your hips back and touch your butt to the wall. Go do it. I’ll wait.

OK. One question: Did your knees bend? If they did, your hip movement is probably not very good. That’s OK, though. Almost noone does it right the first time. If you had problems with it, get a little closer to the wall and work on it. And make sure you push back. No falling into the wall!

2. Women and knees. Yes, it’s true. Women have knees. It’s also true that knee injuries are a nearly epidemic problem for female athletes of all ages. There are a few reasons for this. The one that gets talked about most of the time is something called the “Q angle”. What this refers to is the angle of your thigh bone in relation to your kneecap. Since women tend to have wider hips, they also have a wider “Q angle” which can put additional strain on the knees. Go hereto find an easy way to measure your Q Angle. When you compound that with the issues that many women have with resistance training you can see the issue.

How can women combat that? Three words: proper resistance training. Please take note of the word “proper”.

Do exercises that focus on good movement through the hips and that use a large number of muscles. If you are sitting and/or using machines, you are more than likely not working on proper movement patterns.
Squats and deadlifts are two tremendous exercises and squats shouldn’t hurt your knees no matter what you’ve heard. If they do, it probably means you aren’t sitting back or opening your hips enough.

Also, if you or your daughter are playing sports, doing some basic work on landing mechanics can be a very good idea.

Please know that I’m not an orthopedist and there can be many more causes of knee pain other then what I’ve covered here. If what I’ve suggested doesn’t feel right to you go see a good sports medicine doctor.
Please let me know if you have any questions about what I’ve talked about or anything else. Have a great day!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach
Discover Your Strength!