How to Burn More Calories During Your Workout!

When it comes to working out and exercising, most people either focus on cardio, such as running or biking, or the “glamour muscles.” What are these glamour muscles, you ask? These are the ones that may look good by the pool, but are not necessarily helping you hit your health goals. The glamour muscles include the biceps, triceps, shoulders, and core (or abdominal muscles). While these muscles are important, there are other areas to focus on for even better results.

 

We’ve all heard the saying, “Never skip leg day!” However, there are still lots of people who would rather do bench press and curls than squats and deadlifts. Here is why training your legs and other large muscle groups is so important:

  1. The bigger the muscle, the more it will burn. Without getting into too much of the science and physiology, our cells and the cells in our muscles have little energy converters known as mitochondria. These mitochondria are said to be the “powerhouse” of our cells and help convert oxygen and calories into energy, both during workouts and during rest. The larger a muscle is, such as your hamstrings as opposed to your triceps, the more mitochondria are present. The more you work and strengthen those larger muscles, the stronger the mitochondria become as well. The stronger the mitochondria are, the more efficient they are at burning calories. So, you can train your biceps and triceps and strengthen a small percentage of mitochondria to burn calories, or train massive muscles like your legs and back to exponentially increase your fat burning capabilities!
  2. There is no such thing as “spot reduction.” You cannot only do bicep curls and expect to only burn calories in your arms. Although you may strengthen the bicep muscles by focusing on specific exercises, calories burn at an even rate around the entire body. Most people do not have a problem with the size of their muscles. Rather, they have a problem seeing those muscles because of excess calories and fat. So, instead of trying to develop your abdominal muscles by only doing sit-ups, train the larger muscle groups in your legs and burn more calories and fat that are surrounding your stomach!
  3. We are foundational creatures! As long as we’re upright, all our strength and power comes from our legs. Even if you’re training your upper body, you still depend on a stable base and foundation. To neglect our base and foundation is to only set yourself up for injury or improper movement down the road. This holds true for our back and posterior as well. To keep ourselves upright and in proper alignment and posture, we must focus on what is known as the posterior kinetic chain. The posterior chain consists of the back of our neck, our entire back, our glute muscles, the hamstrings, and the calves connecting to our heels. By strengthening this chain, we prevent hunching forward and improper posture and structure. Remember, only with proper structure do we see proper function!

devolution_posture

Interview with Dan FitzSimons from BodyFitz Personal Training

We just had the opportunity to interview the owner and lead personal trainer at BodyFitz Personal Training, Mr. Dan FitzSimons. Dan and I jumped into some great topics and controversies surrounding weight training and the importance of using a certified personal trainer.

One of the best features that BodyFitz incorporates into every one of their training sessions is the individualized nature of each workout. This is not a cookie-cutter workout where every age or body type is doing the same thing. At BodyFitz, it’s about your personal goals and the strength and health goals you want to achieve. Whether it’s based around you being able to play tennis better or being able to lift your groceries with ease, the trainer will create a program that is perfect for you:

 

Personal training, and weight training in general, has been around for decades, but not everyone has tried it. A common misconception with weight training or lifting weights is that it’s a young person’s game–the thought that once you’re over a certain age, weight lifting is more harmful than beneficial. This notion or idea could not be more inaccurate. As Dan explains in the next clip, weight training is an incredible way to improve your health and function at any age:

 

A major component of structural chiropractic care here at Excel revolves around proper posture and ergonomics, both in and outside of our office. We are all constantly in a slumped forward position, whether we’re checking text messages, typing at the computer, or lounging on the couch watching television, our posture is suffering. Here, Dan explains the importance of posture and how important it is to train the posterior chain (your back, glutes, hamstrings, etc.) as opposed to only focussing on the anterior (your biceps and chest, or pectoral, muscles):

 

Finally, Dan goes over an aspect of training that should be incorporated into not only every workout, but every activity or movement in our lives. Here, we go over the Spinal Bracing Sequence and how important it is to use proper breathing and stabilization before attempting to work out or lift anything in our daily lives:

 

I hope you all enjoyed this interview with Dan FitzSimons from BodyFitz Personal Training here in Sandy Springs. Please remember, you are never too old to start incorporating weight training into your regimen. At BodyFitz, it’s about improving your functional movements so you can perform every activity in your life safely and more efficiently.

Please check out the full interview below to catch even more incredible bits of knowledge that Dan and I discuss about health and weight training!

Why Mobility Training Should be Part of Every Workout!

Working on your mobility and flexibility is a crucial component to proper function and performance, be it in the gym or lifting your children and the groceries properly. When we get stuck in the same position for a long period, such as at the work desk, sitting in traffic, or sleeping improperly, we develop muscular adhesions around our joints. These adhesions restrict normal movement. Mobility training targets these joints, breaks down the adhesions, and restores proper structure and function.

 

Mobility can be incorporated into your warm-up, cool-down, or can be your entire workout for the day! Although structural misalignments can be a major cause of pain and discomfort, a lack of mobility can also cause issues and prevent you from living a healthy, well-functioning life.

I had the pleasure of working with Jenna Minecci, a trainer and mobility specialist at BodyFitz in Sandy Springs, and we targeted some problem areas that have bothered me in the past. Amazingly, we increased the mobility in my shoulders, hips, and low back in just one session!

Hip Mobility:

jenna-hip-stretch

In this mobility exercise, Jenna is using a tight resistance band to open up her left hip joint. In this position, not only can Jenna work on her hip flexors, but can also incorporate internal and external hip rotation mobility.

 

Shoulder and Upper Back Mobility:

jenna-shoulder-stretch

In this exercise, Jenna is using a lacrosse ball to help break up muscular adhesions in her shoulder blades and upper back. As you can see, she is leaning back onto the lacrosse ball and using her body weight and arm movement to help increase movement and flexibility. This is a great exercise for all athletes and can also be very beneficial for frozen shoulder patients.

 

If you are looking to increase your health, mobility, strength, and overall fitness, I highly recommend you call BodyFitz at 404-255-4008 and ask for Jenna!

5 Great Outdoor Places in Atlanta

It is officially fall and the weather is amazing! Like we talked about in our article Time to Take Your Workout Outdoors, it is the perfect time to get outside. Whether you are running, biking, hiking, or just want to take a stroll, there are some great places in and around Atlanta to enjoy the outdoors! Here are some of our favorites:

 

The Atlanta Beltline

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The beltline is an amazing outdoor space in Atlanta. It is built on a historic 22-mile railroad corridor that connects multiple neighborhoods and parks throughout the city. It is also extremely accessible since it runs through so many different areas. It is a multi-use system, but the trails are great for walking, running, and biking. Check out their trail page to find a trail near you!

 

Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

morgan falls park

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area consists of many areas along the Chattahoochee from Lake Lanier through Atlanta. Two spots that are close to town that we love are Morgan Falls Park and the Palisades.

Morgan Falls Park, Sandy Springs

The park has hiking trails, a dog park, and playgrounds. In the spring and summer, The Paddle Shack rents kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards for use in the park. It is a great spot year-round!

Palisades, Vinings

The east and west Palisades are trails that run on either side of the Chattahoochee. The East Palisades Trailhead has over 4 miles of hiking trails through the forest and the Palisades West Trail is a paved trail that is great for walking, running, and biking. Both trails offer great views of the river and the city!

For these and other trails, visit the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area site.

 

Piedmont Park, Midtown

piedmont park

This is probably the most recognized park in Atlanta. The park has so much to do and is centrally located making it accessible for a lot of people. There are running and walking paths, basketball and tennis courts, and even fitness classes. There is a great dog park, too! The park also hosts several events throughout the year like music and arts festivals.

 

PATH Trails

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The PATH Foundation has created several trails around Atlanta. The paved paths are used for walking, running, biking, and skating. They can be found throughout Atlanta and surrounding areas. We love the Chastain Park Trail, which surrounds the North Fulton Golf Course and Chastain Park. PATH has also been involved with the Beltline, converting old railways to walkways. It even converted the old Atlanta-Decatur trolley line to the Trolley Trail, which runs from Cabbagetown to Oakhurst. Check out all the PATH trails here.

 

Murphey Candler Park, Brookhaven

murphy candler park

This is the largest park in Brookhaven and has so much to do! There are sports fields, tennis courts, trails, a playground, and a lake. The park is home to many youth sports teams and hosts an annual 5K, too.

 

There are so many other amazing parks and trails in Atlanta that we love! These are just a few of our favorites. So take advantage of this beautiful fall weather and do something outdoors!

Do you love other trails or parks that we didn’t list here? Comment below or let us know some of your favorites!

 

 

Time to Take Your Workout Outdoors

As usual, the Atlanta summer was a scorcher! If you are like me, you moved your workouts inside to avoid the extreme temperatures. However, good weather is just around the corner and it’s time to head back outside! One huge mistake people make this time of the year is assuming their workouts indoors versus outdoors have to be identical. It is a good idea to make some changes to your routine when heading outside in order to get the most out of your work out!

trail runner

When you’re heading back outside for cardio, it is important to change your biomechanics. If you have been running on the treadmill for the past few months, your entire body has adapted to running on a flat surface. Regardless of the incline you set the treadmill, the surface from right to left is completely flat. Now that you’re hitting the trails and the streets for your jogs, the ground is going to be uneven, slanted, and potentially full of tree roots and potholes. This causes you to use different muscles in your feet and legs that have been pretty dormant over the summer. Whatever mileage you were running on the treadmill, cut it in half when you hit the outdoors. Stick with this plan for 1-2 weeks until your body has adapted to the uneven and changing running surfaces.

Use your environment! Working out outside should be fun; you are finally free from the typical Elliptical and dumbbell workouts. Are you near stairs? Knock out 5 sets of running up and down with 20 air squats in between. See a park bench? Alternate stepping up and down from the bench 20 times with 10 inclined push-ups for 3-5 rounds. This is your time to improvise and use the “equipment” we walk past every day.

Park-Bench-Ab-Workout

You don’t have to stick to a rigid schedule, workout when you can. We constantly make the false assumption that our workouts have to be an hour we dedicate solely to exercise, but that is not the case! To get the benefits of exercise, you need to move a certain amount during the day. That does not mean it all has to happen at once! If you don’t have an hour or two in the day to dedicate to exercise, then split it up. If the temperature is cooling off, start parking in the furthest spot from the office and enjoy the longer walk to start your day. Thinking of going to lunch with the team? Pick a café down the street that you can all walk to together.

pretty people walking

Workouts don’t have to be work. Get creative! The upcoming fall weather is a great excuse to get outside and there are plenty of great places in and around the city to go. So, take advantage of your surroundings, switch up your workout, and stay active.

4 Signs You May Be Overtraining

We all know the importance of physical activity in our lives and the benefits that regular exercise can have on our health. But, have you ever stopped and considered the fact that you may be overtraining? It takes about 45-60 minutes per day to see true health and cardiovascular benefits from exercise, with a total of about 5-6 hours per week of exercise. However, after that point, you may stop seeing gains in your health and fitness and will actually start to regress. If you’re worried that you may be experiencing symptoms associated with overtraining or that your exercise routine has become more of an addiction than a regimen, check out our 4 Signs of Overtraining and what you can do to prevent further problems.

  1. Muscle soreness and injury-prone:
    • Of course it is normal for muscles to be sore after a training session, but it is not normal for this soreness to last more than 48-72 hours post-exercise. To see an improvement in muscle growth, or muscular hypertrophy, the muscle must be stressed. However, what most people forget is that most of our muscular gains happen during our rest periods—the day or two after we have exercised and stressed our muscles. If we do not allow our muscle to rest and grow properly, we will be sore for a longer period and be more injury-prone due to less stable, more vulnerable muscles.
    • How can I prevent this? After training a certain muscle group or body part, give yourself adequate rest time before training those muscles again. I recommend at least 36-48 hours of rest between training sessions to see optimal gains.
  2. Feeling sick more often
    • When your body is working too hard, or overtraining, you are living in a constant catabolic state, or constantly breaking down your body instead of building it up. This takes a strong toll on your body and immune system and makes you more vulnerable to sickness and illness. Because your body is so focused on training and burning, it cannot take the necessary measures to ensure you are properly protected from disease.
    • How can I prevent this? Reduce your training periods so that you have time to properly heal. Try incorporating shorter, more intense training sessions instead of long, high burning cardio workouts. Also, consider diet and nutrition modifications. Vitamins A, C, and E are important in strengthening immune function and will also help with tissue repair.
  3. Loss of Motivation
    • When exercise has become such a crucial part of your daily life, the idea of missing a workout becomes unfathomable! That is why a sudden disinterest in wanting to go to the gym is a serious sign of overtraining. It is your body trying to tell you it needs a break.
    • How can I prevent this? Instead of fighting this sign and performing exercises with a lack of concentration and chance of injury, a longer rest period is needed. Take at least one full week off from training and focus on getting at least 8 hours of sleep and refueling your body with proper diet and nutrition. After this week, do not jump back into your full-intensity workout. Rather, start slowly and work your way back in a safe manner. Your body will be well rested and you will notice an immediate change in your motivation to exercise again!
  4. Halted Progress
    • Have you ever been training for a long period of time and no matter what you try, or how hard you work, you simply are not getting the results you desire? This is because you are overtraining your muscles. Instead of seeing growth by burning carbohydrates and fat and building muscle tissue, you are actually entering a “muscle burning” mode due to inadequate rest.
    • How can I prevent this? As stated earlier, force yourself to take rest periods, both during your training and in between sessions. It might seem counterintuitive that resting more will actually provide more gains, but it could not be more true!