Archives for August 2015

Training As We Age

I just love love love it when I get thoughtful responses back from people who read my posts! Last week I got a great response back from a client concerning the article I wrote. If you haven’t read it you can check it out here:

My client asked mainly about two different things. He wanted to know about how and to what extent I individualize my programs and also how I program for people as they age into their 60’s and beyond. These are great questions and definitely ones that I know many people have. I thought I’d just let you know what I wrote back. Here it is:
Thanks for reading and the response! I appreciate it. I understand your concerns. I want to emphasize that I individualize all of my training programs. I do believe, though, that there are some movements that everyone needs to do in some way. Everyone needs to be able to perform some type of squat and some type of deadlift, for example. To be brief as to why, these are movements that emphasize basic movement patterns through the entire body that can help improve movement, posture, build muscle and through these things improve metabolism to help people look better and lose weight. Not everyone performs these movements, or any others, the same way but as we as a society become more and more sedentary, these movements become even more important for people to do correctly. 
How I write my programs come from many different decisions and is expressed in different ways. I think about how someone can perform a movement, the order of the workout, what movements are emphasized among many other things. It may look like everyone is doing the same thing, after all every program I write comes from a “movement-first” philosophy, but there can be major differences from program to program.
It’s certainly true that I love lifting weights but one of the reasons that I advocate this for my clients is that I’ve seen people of all ages improve in so many ways because of it. As people age it becomes even more important as we face issues such as bone density, loss of muscle, and loss of mobility. I’ve seen people suffer relatively minor falls and get a multitude of very serious broken bones and other injuries because of poor bone density and strength. I’m sure you’ve had or have heard of elderly patients who have fallen and had to lay on their floor for hours or even days because they weren’t strong enough to pull themselves up off the floor.
As far as weight loss, losing weight requires us to increase our resting metabolism. This happens best when we increase our lean body mass. We actually don’t burn many calories when we exercise. It’s when we can raise our metabolism at rest that real weight loss occurs. As we age this does become more difficult due to many factors but that doesn’t make it impossible. 
I hope this clarifies a few of the things I brought up in my last article. If you do have any questions about it please let me know.

As always, thanks for reading!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
I Help People Discover Their Strength!

The Two Keys To Results In The Gym

There are a lot of factors when it comes to getting results in the gym. Diet, programming, form. The list goes on and on. To my mind, though, there are two factors that will determine success far and above anything else: consistency and commitment to strength training.
Consistency: Progress doesn’t generally come in leaps and bounds. It comes in drips and drops.
I took Tae Kwon Do many years ago. One time there was a leaky faucet in the shower. There was a bucket full of water below it. The instructor told us to take a look and said something I’ll never forget. He said, “Each drop doesn’t mean much but they eventually fill the bucket. Each class you take is a drop. Take enough and you will soon have a full bucket!”
It is no coincidence that the clients that are here consistently get the best results. Their buckets are getting fuller by the day!
Sometimes one of my clients will mention that they’re tired or not feeling well and almost didn’t make their session. Almost every time they tell me how glad they are that they came. We can’t help people if they’re not here.
Commitment to strength training: OK. You just walked through the door. Congratulations! Well, now that you’re here you might as well work, right? The bottom line is that other than diet (which we all know is the most important thing when it comes to changing your body composition) strength training is the best way to improve your body composition. It builds lean body, which increases your metabolism, it allows you to burn more calories at rest, and it also gives people a mentality that allows for hard work.
Here’s the key though. You’ve got to push it. Everyone says they do but here’s a little test:
You’ve just completed your second working set of 10 squats, which is your main lift for the day.  You have one more set.  The set wasn’t easy but your form was good throughout. Do you go heavier on your last set?
If you even have to think about the answer or are making excuses right now you don’t really push it. Sorry. The truth hurts sometimes.
By the way, I know there are cases where someone wouldn’t go heavier in this scenario but the majority of the time they should if they’re looking for changes in their body.

Last week a few of my clients were admiring another one of my clients arms. They were asking her about what exercises she did , what she ate, etc. These are legitimate, normal questions but there is something they may or may not have known. This client had relatively recently had a surgery that rendered one of her hands basically useless for about 10 weeks. How much gym time did she miss? About 3 weeks. That means that for almost two months we had to find things for her to do that didn’t use one arm. When it comes down to it, this is more responsible for her arms than any exercise or diet. This is an attitude and work ethic that says that whatever happens she’ll push through and when it comes down to it, that kind of mentality is what really matters.
Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
I Help People Discover Their Strength!

What Is Really Causing Your Back Pain?

Back pain is one of the most common, and also misunderstood, problems people have.  Here’s what we know. It hurts. It can cause us to literally question every move we make for fear of the pain. Here’s the most important thing to remember, though. Most back pain isn’t necessarily a serious problem. I know it hurts a lot but that’s not always the best indicator of how bad something really is.
Think of it this way, have you ever stubbed your toe? Just knocked it against a chair when you were half asleep one night and walking to the bathroom? You know it feels like your life is about to end but that doesn’t mean that it will. A lot of back pain is like that.

Here’s another thing we know about back pain. Many times it’s not really our back that’s the main source of the problem. It’s actually our hips and shoulders. Let me explain.

The actual purpose of our low back and our core area in general is stability. What this means is that, for the most part, it shouldn’t really move. It should actually tighten so that our arms and legs can move and do what they need to do. As a matter of fact every time our arms and legs move even a little bit, our core fires up. We might not always feel it but it happens.

What IS supposed to move are our hips and shoulders. They’re designed for movement. Unfortunately, because so many of us spend our days sitting in front of computer screens, our hips and shoulders don’t move very well. That means our low back has to move to make up the difference and that is often what causes pain.

In our gym we place a special emphasis on posture and hip movement for just these reasons. We feel that no matter what your goals are you’re not going to hit them if you have pain, bad movement patterns or bad posture.

One of the first exercises we have everyone do to establish proper hip movement we call the Stick RDL. You can do it at home with a broomstick. Put the stick against your back with three points of contact: your butt, your upper back and the back of your head.

Now push your hips back maintaining all three points of contact. As soon as you lose one point straighten back up. You can watch a quick video below on how it should work.

This is the kind of exercise that seems like it should be simple yet at first it can be frustratingly difficult. Just keep in mind that you are NOT bending over. You are pushing your hips back. Think about putting your butt on the wall behind you.

You should feel a little stretch in your hamstrings and nothing at all in your low back as you do this. If you do feel something in your back it’s because your back is moving, not your hips. If you need help understanding this, let me know. Watch the video to see how this works.

Overall, it’s very important to understand what’s really going on when you have back pain because it’s not what many people assume. Please let me know if you have any questions and have a great day!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
I Help People Discover Their Strength!