Float tank

As mentioned in previous posts, recovery is a key part of a fitness program.  While sleep, foam rolling, and ROLFing can all aid in recovery, another recovery tool that can be used is float tanks.

Float tanks, also known as sensory deprivation chambers, are basically a large bathtub with a hatch door that closes over the tub.  The tub is filled with enough epsom salt to cause anyone that enters the water to float.  The lights in the room are turned off and earplugs are worn, so while you are floating there is no light or sound.

Floating in a float tank has numerous benefits.  The magnesium from the epsom salt is great for muscle recovery.  Also, because there are no distractions it can be very psychologically beneficial.  It can be a great place to meditate, pray, think, or just relax.

I have personally used float tanks numerous times and have found them very beneficial.  While not beneficial for everyone, there are many people that can benefit from floating.  It might be worth a try if you have the opportunity.   Also keep in mind that it can feel very foreign the first time you do it, so it make take a few tries to truly feel all the benefits.

Sleep, diet, exercise

 Sleep, diet, and exercise are all critical components of any quality fitness program. When any of the deficient, the whole fitness program suffers. While someone can experience positive effects when only one of the three is optimized, they will not achieve their full fitness potential, and will likely not reach their goals nearly as quickly as they would if all three were sufficient.

These activities can create a snowball effect. When any of these components are where they should be, it makes the others easier to fix. For example, if someone is eating an appropriate diet and sleeping the appropriate amount, it will be much easier for them to exercise appropriately. If they are exercising appropriately and getting adequate sleep, it will be easier for them to make healthy food choices. And if they are eating appropriately and exercising appropriately, it will be easier for them to get quality sleep. 

At Customize My Workout,  we take the whole person into account when designing a fitness program. We understand the importance of each of these aspects to a person’s health, and we advise according.

ROLFing

ROLFing can be another great recovery tool. I have recently discussed the important of sleep and SMR, and ROLFing can be another great resource to aid in the recovery process. 

ROLFing gets its name from its inventor, Ida Rolf. She invented it as a way to align body tissue and thus create opportunities for better human movement. The process of ROLFing manipulates the body’s facial tissue to put it back into proper alignment.

While foam rolling is a much more inexpensive method of myofascial release, ROLFing can reach areas that are difficult or impossible to reach through SMR. I have personally used ROLFing techniques to have my own body tissues out in more optimal alignment. 

ROLFing is not right for everyone. However, at Customize My Workout we can work with you to find what is best for you, and help you reach your health and fitness goals. 

Foam rolling

Foam rolling, also known as static myofascial release (SMR), is an important part of most recovery portions of workgroup programs. Previous posts have talked about the importance of recovery in general and the importance of sleep.  This post will cover SMR.

As discussed previously, when you exercise you create micro-tears in your muscles. While sleeping helps to repair these tears and make your muscles stronger and more defined, foam rolling can speed this process. Foam rolling should be done slowly, and the pressure should be held in tender areas (provided the tenderness isn’t due to something like a nerve or injury) for 30 seconds or so. 

SMR can also be used to correct improper movement patterns and muscle imbalances. For many people, daily life can require many movement patterns that are unhealthy (like sitting at a desk for a large portion of the day). This can cause some muscles to become too tight, while other muscles are too loose. Foam rolling can be used to loosen the tight muscles, and resistance training can be used to strengthen the under active muscles, putting your body back in balance.

SMR encompasses the use of other equipment in addition to a foam roller. Other equipment such as lacrosse balls, tennis balls, and rolling pins can also be used. At Customize My Workout, we show you how to use what you have so you can get the most benefits. We take everything into account to help you achieve your goals.

Sleep

 

Sleep is an immensely important part of any exercise program.  As mentioned in last week’s post, rest is an essential component of any exercise program

Sleep deprivation can lead to a variety of different health issues. Drivers have been shown to be more likely to get into an accident when they are slee deprived than when they are drunk. Sleep deprivation can lead to poor decision making. Sleep deprivation can also weaken the immune system leading to a variety of diseases.

Trade-offs are a part of daily life. However, if you prioritize health, you cannot deprive yourself of slee or exercise. Many people trade one for the other. However, I lack of either one will lead to a reduced level of health. The question should not be “sleep or exercise,” the question should be “sleep and exercise or my health and well being.”

 At Customize My Workout we take your schedule into account and advise you accordingly. We understand the important of both sleep and exercise, and take this into consideration when planning workouts. Doing this helps you to become the healthiest person you can be, and helps you achieve your goals.

Recovery

Many times, all of the focus of a workout program is put solely on the exercise part.  While the actual exercise of any workout program is obviously immensely important, recovery periods are also essential. Without having both, a person will not get stronger or more defined muscles.

The recovery period of a workout program is actually when the muscles grow and you get stronger.   Exercise creates microscopic tears in muscles, and when given proper recovery time, the muscles heal to be stronger and more defined.  Without exercise muscles would not get stronger, but muscles will not get stronger without proper recovery either.

Here at Customize My Workout we plan proper rest times as well as proper workout times.  We take each individual’s specific situation into account to help them reach their goals.

Setting goals

Setting goals is an important part of any workout program. It is tough to get somewhere if you don’t know where you are going. A workout program without goals is like wandering in the desert without any sense of direction- it is difficult, and you are unlikely to efficiently get where you want to go. 

 Goals can also aid in motivation. On the days when it is hard to motivate yourself you can consider the goals you have set. Thinking about the eventual benefits can sometimes make the current moment more enjoyable.

Goals do not need to be elaborate. However, goals should be SMART (Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely). When setting goals you should consider what you want to achieve, and when you want to achieve, while taking into account what is attainable and realistic. Also, it is highly likely that goals will change over time.

A quality workout program should take each individual’s goals into consideration when planning workouts. Here at Customize My Workout we take your goals into account to plan appropriate workouts. As your goals change we customize your workouts accordingly.

Staying Healthy While Traveling

(This post was originally published yesterday at HealthyExplorer.org

Why is it important?

It is important to stay in shape while traveling. If someone is going on one trip for just a couple days it may not be big deal to worry about health, but many people go on extended trips or travel often. If these people do not take their health into account, they will suffer in a variety of ways. They will not be able to get as much enjoyment from their vacations or be as productive on their business trips.

Eat Healthy-

While it can be tempting to eat the tastiest looking things when traveling, when long term consequences are taken into account they do not usually outweigh the short term benefits. While can be okay to splurge on certain items, especially if they are local specialties, it is not a good idea to splurge on every meal for an extended period of time. Many cities feature markets with quality, fresh foods that can be eaten on site or bought to prepare later if you have access to a kitchen.

Exercise-

Many hotels feature fitness rooms, and many fitness facilities have locations throughout the world. Also, many cities offer free workout areas. While this may only consist of some pull up bars and a few dumbbells this can be enough to get a good workout in. With proper knowledge and planning, even a small area of floor space can be enough to get a quality workout in. If you have any doubts about what exercises to do, websites like CustomizeMyWorkout.com can provide you with the knowledge and motivation you need.

Be active-

Many locations offer good opportunities to be active. Depending on the location that may include paddle boarding, surfing, hiking, cycling, or just walking long distances. Walking can be a great way to see a city, as you get a quality view of the area and see things you may have missed if driving through the city in a car. Many cities even offer free walking tours.

 

Stay healthy my friends!

Moderation and Goldilocks

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

While I don’t believe this quote is necessarily completely true in every context, it is true in most. The challenging part is determining a moderate amount. 

It would be tough to find someone who believes no sleep is best, and it would be similarly difficult to find someone that believe you should sleep 24 hours a day. There is, however, a good amount somewhere in the middle.

In the famous story of Goldilocks and the three bears, Goldilocks continues to find something opposite sides of the spectrum before finding what is “just right.”  For different people there are different weight amounts that should be used and different t distances that should be traveled. Too little could lead to decreased benefits and too much could lead to injury (and therefore significant decreased benefits), while the “Goldilocks amount” will help people reach their potential.

At Customize My Workout we work with each individual person to determine what is the right amount for them. We can help you reduce your risk of injury while maximizing your potential benefits using scientifically based methods. 

Exercise in daily life

There are many ways to incorporate exercise into daily life rhythms.  You can run up the stairs instead of taking the elevator. You could park farther away and walk longer, or better yet leave the car at the house and ride your bike to your destination. You could take a minute away from sitting at your desk and do some pushups or planks. The possibilities are almost limitless.

How each person should best incorporate exercise into their daily life will vary from person to person. Some people may work in the third floor of a building while others may work on the first floor. Some people may ride the train to work, some may take a car to work, and some people might work from home. Some people might work in an office, while other people might work outside.

So what is the best way for you to incorporate exercise into your daily life? It will vary from person to person.  At Customize My Workout we help you find the best times to incorporate exercise into your unique daily schedule. 

Interval training

A basic definition of interval training is changing intensities at certain intervals while constantly moving. For example, you could alternate between running and jogging every 30 seconds.  This can be a great way to burn calories and change body composition.

Take an example of a car. If you want to conserve the fuel in a car it is good to drive at a manageable, constant speed.  If you are constantly speeding up and slowing down, the car will use more fuel. However, if a person is concerned with burning calories and fat to change their body composition, interval workouts can potentially be very effective. 

Others advantages of interval workouts for people concerned with burning calories are the time benefit and the limited loss of lean body mass.  Most people will burn many more calories in a given time while doing interval work than they will in that same time running at a constant speed.  Also, the body will be less likely to conserve energy by burning off good lean body mass (muscle) than it would if you were running at a constant speed (as previously discussed in a post about the SAID principle, the body will adapt to specifically imposed demands). 

So are interval workouts right for you?  It depends. Your goals, access to equipment, training history, and limitations will all factor into that answer. Also, the exact type of interval training that is optimal will likely very from person to person. At Customize My Workout we take all of these factors and more into account to design the optimal workout for each person we work with.

When to workout

When is the best time to workout? 

The short answer to this question is “it depends.” The best time to workout will vary from person to person depending on their own situation and schedule. For some people, working out first thing in the morning is best, while it is better for others to work out after leaving work. Some people may benefit most from taking a break during their workday to workout.

Personally, I would prefer to workout in the mornings.  Testosterone levels tend to be higher in the morning. Also, an early workout can create a positive snowball effect and make the rest of my day feel more productive. If I work out later in the day it can sometimes make it harder for me to get to sleep at a decent hour. However, due to my schedule, I do not workout in the morning everyday.

Certain things should not be sacrificed just to work out in the morning. It is not beneficial to limit sleep to work out in the morning (although going to sleep earlier to wake up earlier may be an option). Also, some personal life requirements and work life requirements are not worth cutting into simply to work out earlier (although if work is interfering with your personal health that may be something to consider).

Many people benefit from working out at a habitual time. For example, some people work out every weekday after work. For many people, this can make a workout program easier to stick to. Others may be fine to work out at different times throughout the week.

Working out in the middle of the day can make some people more productive at work. Exercise helps get more oxygen to the brain and releases endorphins that can help work performance. Another thing to take into account when setting a workout schedule is allowing adequate rest times in between workout sessions.

The bottom line is what is best for a particular person will not necessarily be best for everyone. It will vary based on a number of factors. At Customize My Workout we take these factors into consideration to find what is best for you.

Periodization

Periodization is a scientifically based and backed method of exercise programming. It segments different exercises, workout intensities, and volumes into different periods to optimize benefits and reduce injury risk. Basically, it is doing different things at different, planned times to get the best results.

Proper periodization establishes a sufficient  base in preparation for other exercises or activities. Many people jump into activities such as CrossFit workouts without establishing a proper base first. When this base is not properly established, many people end up with injuries to their shoulders, knees, or other body parts.

A lack of periodization in exercise programming can lead to overuse injuries. As many more children in the United States begin to become more sports specific and play one sport year round as opposed to multiple sports throughout the year, their number of overuse injuries has risen. It has had such an effect that some college coaches, such as Urban Meyer, are now prioritizing their recruitment with student athletes that played multiple sports throughout their high school career. Whether it be UCL ligament (Tommy John) damage, carpal tunnel syndrome, or ACL (knee) damage, repetitive motions in any area of life can lead to injury.  A properly designed exercise program will build a base and create sufficient variability to counteract this damage.

Proper periodization leads to maximum benefits.  Due to the SAID principle, muscles will adapt to the stress they are put under. If this stress is never changed, improvements will not be made. This is somewhat what Tony Horton (of P90x fame) is trying to get at when he talks about muscle confusion, but it is much more than that (and “cookie cutter” workouts are not best for most people).  It is not best to do different things just to do different things; it is much more beneficial to do specifically different things at different planned times using science based methods.

Here at Customize My Workout we use principles such as periodization to help you minimize your potential injury risk and maximize your benefits. 

Specificity

 

In the world of health and fitness there is a principle known as the “SAID” principle, or Specific Adaptations to Implied Demands.  Basically, this means that your body will adapt to get better at what you choose to do with it.  For example, if a person runs long distances for an extended period of time, their body will adapt to get better at running long distances. Their lungs will adapt to work more efficiently, their body will store fat for energy, and they will shed muscle weight to make themselves lighter and therefore more capable of running long distances.

 

Why is this important? 

Many people do not take the SAID principle into account when they exercise. This may lead to doings things they may think are helpful but are actually counterproductive.  For example, take someone that wants to change their body composition to increase muscle tone and lose fat. If they choose to exercise by doing distance running or other similar cardiovascular workouts, they will be fighting an uphill battle.

Also, many people choose to do workouts they find online, or do workouts that work for their friends. As mentioned in a previous blog post, one size does not fit all. Each person’s own goals should be taken into account when designing a workout program. Here at CustomizeMyWorkout we work with you and use scientific principles like the SAID principle to help you achieve your goals.

Working together (Part 2)

This is part two of a two part post. The first post wast posted last week, and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of working out alone. This post will discuss the upside and downside to working out with another person.

 

Working outwith another person has many advantages. They can provide accountability, encouragement, and advice. It can also provide time to socialize and strengthen friendships. 

 

While workout out alone has an upside, it also has a downside. 

 

At CustomizeMyWorkout.com, we allow you the option to workout alone or with someone else. 

Working alone (Part 1)

This is the first part of a two part blog post.   This post discusses the benefits and drawbacks of working alone. The following post will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of working together.

 

Working out alone has many benefits.  You can set your own schedule to what works best for you. You can go to the most convenient location to workout, without having to worry about meeting someone somewhere. Also, introverts or people who prefer to be focused on their workout tend to fare well when working out alone.

 

While working out alone can provide many advantages, it also comes with some drawbacks.  There is no one to hold you accountable. There is also no one to give advice or encouragement.  Extroverts and social butterflies tend to feel uncomfortable working out alone.

 

At CustomizeMyWorkout.com, we keep the advantages of working out alone, while eliminating the disadvantages. It is the best of both worlds. We allow you the flexibility to workout where you want, when you want, with (or without) whoever you want, while proving accountability, advice, encouragement, and a workout program that is fully personalized to be the possible program for you. 

Group classes

Many people participate in group classes, and there are many benefits to participating in group classes. However, there are things to be aware of and be careful of when participating in group exercise classes.

 

Group exercise classes can provide motivation and accountability. If you make a habit of attending a specific group class and you don’t show up to a class, someone will know. Also, many people will make friends in classes and will be motivated to go to see their friends.

 

However, by definition, group classes cannot do what is best for each individual person. No two people are exactly the same. As mentioned in a previous post, one size does not fit all. To truly reach your potential, you need a custom, personalized workout program. Also, while maximizing benefits, a properly customized workout will also decrease the risk of injury. Here at CustomizeMyWorkout.com we work to help you achieve your goals and reach your potential.

Is a gym membership necessary?

Having a gym membership can provide a person with many more resources in terms of exercise.  There are exercises that can be done with the equipment that a fitness facility provides that cannot be done in the same manner outside of a gym. 

There are also many fitness centers that offer specialized equipment to improve fitness equipment.  I have used a treadmill that goes as fast as 40 miles per hour (although I did not max it out myself) and has a belt that someone can use ice skates on.  Also, different gyms may or may not have kettle bells, steel maces, fat grip handles, plyometric equipment, or various exercise bands.  All of these can be useful in the correct context.

However, that being said, a person can still be healthy without access to common fitness equipment.  There are many exercises that can be done without any equipment at all.  Also, objects such as rocks, walls, beds, chair, and soup cans can be used in place of things commonly found in gyms.  Many types of equipment are only beneficial for a specific group of people at a specific time in their workout program.  While quality equipment can be very beneficial, the knowledge behind a workout program is significantly more important.  Here at CustomizeMyWorkout, we will provide with the knowledge to make the most with what you have.  We take your access to equipment into account when we program your workouts.  Our goal is to help you reach your fitness potential regardless of your access to equipment.

 

Correcting compensations

If you watch a young child move, they will rest in positions most adults cannot comfortably get into.   For example, many children will rest in a full squat position with their hips closer to their heels than their knees.  Many adults cannot even get into this position, and many of those who can are not able to do so without a significant amount of pain.  This is due to improper movement patterns.

As we go throughout our daily life, most people develop improper movement patterns due to a number of different factors. These movement patterns can compound and lead to many other compensations.  These compensations can lead to injury or submaximal output.  

However, these compensations and improper movement patterns can be corrected.  A properly designed workout program can work towards achieving optimal biomechanical movement patterns.  Because every person is different, this workout program should be customized to each person to ensure the maximal benefit and minimal injury risk.  At CustomizeMyWorkout.com we personally design each workout program to help you maximize what you are able to do and help you move better.

Exercise for sports (Part 2)

While it can be problematic to use sports as a major means of exercise, it can be very beneficial to use exercise to improve sports performance.   However, when using an improper exercise program it can lead to injury or poor performance.

When using exercise for sports, proper care needs to be taken. When improperly programmed, an exercise can actually decrease sports performance and increase the risk of injury.  For example, before I knew better I was put on exercise programs while in high school and college.  I ended up with decreased flexibility and range of motion, and I tore a ligament in my elbow while playing sports.  Even if an improper exercise program does not lead to injury, it will not allow for maximal benefit.

A properly designed, customized workout program will help a person improve their sports performance and decrease their risk of injury.  If someone is not using any sort of exercise program, they will likely fall behind their peers in terms of sports performance.  After studying and becoming a professional in health and fitness, I realized the shortcomings in the workouts I did while in high school and college.  Here at CustomizeMyWorkout we offer fully customized, science based workout programs to help people reach their full potential.