Friday, June 26, 2015

Paleo Coconut Balls

 These Paleo Coconut Balls are an excellent for anyone on the go looking for a delicious snack that won't completely wreck your nutrition. They're a little on the sweet side so take it easy, or don't ... I'm not your mom! Just trust me, it's going to be hard to not eat them all in one sitting! Kids love them, they make the perfect snack for lunches! When you keep them in the freezer they're a great treat on a hot day. They're simple to make and very tasty!

Here's What You Need:

- 1/3 cup  Honey
- 1 1/2 tbsp  Cocoa
- 1 cup  Coconut Oil
- 1/3 cup Almond Butter
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 2 cups Dried Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

How To Put It Together: 

- Put your honey, cocoa, and coconut oil in a sauce pan on medium-high heat
- Bring the mixture to a boil for 1 min and then remove from the heat
- Add the almond butter and vanilla to the mixture and stir it in
- Stir in the coconut
- Wait for the mixture to cool slightly and roll it into balls
- Place on wax paper and place them in the fridge until then harden
- Eat and enjoy!


Monday, June 22, 2015

Why You Can't Get Toned!

Toning doesn't exist, it's a myth, and doing lower intensity training with light weights and high reps won't give you the look you desire!  Watch the YouTube video above to learn more about what toning really is, and what workouts you should be doing to get that toned look! 

- Tim 

Monday, June 15, 2015

3 Exercises To Eliminate Wrist Pain

 Wrist pain is one of the most common issues that I run into with clients on a daily basis. I would honestly say that 1 out of 4 people that I've worked with have an issue with their wrists. Most of the time they experience wrist pain or discomfort during any sort of exercise that causes extension and weight baring. This means push ups, mountain climbers, burpees, crawling, and a handful of other exercises all aggravate their issue.

 If this sounds like you, don't worry! You don't have to stop doing any of the above exercises. Wrist pain doesn't have to prevent you from getting a great workout, and the steps to help ease or eliminate it are quite simple! Today we'll take a look at 3 simple exercises to help you eliminate your wrist pain.

These exercises are for those of you who I assume haven't had any type of wrist injury. If you have, be sure to check with a doctor before performing any of the exercises below.

 1. Wrist Mobility Routines

 Many people have tight muscles and fascia. Guess what, if you're hamstrings feel tight, your calves are tight, your shoulders are tense ... your forearms and wrists are most likely tight as well. This means you need to be addressing that issue and opening them back up! I always recommend that everyone perform a daily fascial release routine (foam rolling, using a lacrosse ball etc.) and a stretching/mobility routine for their whole body. Working on your posture, opening up tight areas of the body, and strengthening the weaker muscle groups is a must! Your wrists are no different. For starters, try using this wrist mobility routine in your warm ups and every morning.

2. Try Using Your Fists 

 If push ups, mountain climbers, and other exercises that force you to put weight on your extended wrists cause you pain, try performing them on your fists. When you do these exercises using your fist as the base it will align the wrist with the forearm and eliminate any extension. Most people find this stops their wrist pain and discomfort immediately! If you're on a hard wood floor you might want to use a towel or mat under your fists. Check out a much younger me in this early video describing how this is done!

3. Hang & Build Your Grip Strength

 Grip strength is an often over looked aspect of training. Not only is grip strength functionally useful on a day to day basis (carrying groceries, opening up jars etc.) it's also been tied to longer life expectancy. By strengthening the muscles and tendons that surround the wrist you'll be creating a more stable joint. Many people find that this was actually the problem all along! I've written an entire blog piece on how to build some serious grip strength, you might want to take a look. But, one of the easiest methods for creating basic grip strength, and improving shoulder health/mobility, is the passive hang! The passive hang is simple, find something to hang on, grip it around shoulder width apart, palms facing outward, and hang! Let your shoulders relax and "hug" your ears. Let your body hang loose. Try hanging for as long as possible! Do this multiple times throughout the day, time yourself each time, and try to work up to 4-5 mins throughout the day. You could also throw them into the end or beginning of your workouts and do 3 sets of hanging for as long as you can. Rest 30 seconds between sets.

 Give these 3 simple wrist exercises a try, and watch your pain disappear! For some of you it could minutes, others it might take weeks or longer, but hang in there. Before you know it, you're tight and weak wrists will be a thing of the past!

- Tim 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Why Your Workout Sucks!

The workout that you're following might be doing you more harm than good. You can find out why in the video above!

- Tim 

Monday, June 8, 2015

How To Not Hurt Yourself Barefoot Running!

I enjoy being barefoot as much as possible! At home, you can find me barefoot all the time. Outdoors, I opt for minimalist footwear like flip flops, Tom's, or shoes that leave room and are very flat. If I'm forced to train in shoes in a gym, I throw on a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. Basically, I'm as close to barefoot as I can be at all times! Why? Because ...

 Going Barefoot Has A Ton Of Benefits! 

Your feet are the direct connection between your body/brain and the earth beneath you. They send the signal to your brain letting it know exactly where you are in time and space. Being barefoot (or wearing minimalist shoes) allows your body to receive the signal between the ground and the feet at a more natural rate. When you bound them up in big, thick, padded shoes, you create a barrier between your feet and the ground. This barrier slows and distorts the signal sent from your feet to your brain. Think of it like trying to type on your keyboard while wearing oven mitts! 

 Shoes also put our bodies in unnatural positions and cause compensated movement patters. Most shoes have a raised heel and confine our toes. A raised heel can lead to a shift in bodyweight leading to poor posture, back issues, and tight calves/immobile ankles to name a few. Being barefoot eliminates the heel raise. 

 Your toes are meant to spread out naturally, like little fingers on your feet (creepy analogy, I know). Your toes should help grip the ground and balance your body. Toes that are naturally separated are a sign of strong/healthy feet. Being barefoot, allows the toes to spread apart, grip the ground, and activate the muscles in the feet. Keeping your toes bound up in shoes, with little or no room to move, leaves the toes pressed together even when your shoes aren't on! The result, weak and inactive muscles in the feet! 

 Weak and inactive feet, coupled with immobile ankles, lead to a whole truck load of dysfunction in the rest of the body. They're the first connection to the earth beneath you and need to be kept in good shape. 

 Minimalist Shoes Don't Hurt People,
People Hurt Themselves! 

Ask anyone who runs, why they started running. Chances are they'll tell you it's because they wanted to get into shape and lose weight. I think it's great when someone takes their health into their own hands and makes the move towards getting more active! The problem is, most people are in no position to start running long distances in the first place. 

 Long distance running/jogging has a very high rate of injury because it's a long duration and high impact form of plyometric exercise. Now, on top of that add in the fact that most people have poor posture, duck feet, and aren't doing any form of resistance training ... and we have a recipe for disaster. That's even without switching to minimalist footwear!

I'm sure you've heard the stories of people suing companies like Vibram over injuries they sustained from running in their minimalist footwear. The problem wasn't the shoes, or even running in the shoes ... the problem was "who" was running in the shoes. 

 If we take the typical person mentioned above, overweight, poor posture, weak feet, immobile ankles, and they're not strength training. Add in the fact that they also have no concept of the running technique required to run in minimalist shoes. Then throw them in Vibram's and start letting them hit the pavement, guess what ... they're going to get injured! It's not because the shoes are dangerous, it's because they didn't prepare their body for running in minimalist shoes. 

Vibram Five Fingers

You Need To Prepare Your Feet Before Minimalist Running!

If you don't want to injure yourself when running in minimalist shoes, you need to take the right steps! That pun wasn't intended, but it works. The following are steps that I use with clients before they ever start running (sprints, jogging etc.) in minimalist shoes. Implement them, and it will make your chances of injuring yourself running in minimalist shoes go down significantly. 

 BUT! Remember, running for long distances isn't the most effective method for fat loss, it increases your stress hormones, boosts inflammation in the body, and is still a high risk method of training. 

Step #1: Get your diet on point

 Clean up your food, get your nutrition on point. You'll lose weight, keep it off, and improve every single aspect of your body through proper nutrition. Not carrying around excess body fat will also help reduce your risk of injury while running. You could pick up my "Paleo Quick Start" to get you on track!

Step #2: Fix your poor posture and foot positioning

If you can't stand up straight, and stay that way, then how the heck are you going to do it while running? Find out what good posture looks like, then get foam rolling, using lacrosse balls, and stretching in order to fix your poor posture. 

Step #3: Start resistance training while barefoot

Go barefoot around your home, and in the gym. Most gyms will require you to wear shoes, that's ok because you can get some Vibrams and wear them in the gym. Start training with total body movements like squats, lunges, push ups, chin ups,  and rows. This will help strengthen the feet during activity. This should be on going an ongoing process! 

Training barefoot is a great way to prepare 
the feet for minimalist running!

Step #4: Jump rope barefoot

Running in minimalist shoes requires an upright posture and the use of the forefoot while running. Basically, running on the balls of the feet. Jumping rope helps with both of these techniques. Jumping rope helps to further strengthen the muscles of the feet and conditions the calves and legs in a similar fashion to barefoot running. Jumping rope regularly for a couple months, coupled with your resistance training, should help build a good base for minimalist running. 

Step #5: Learn about running and forefoot running technique

You must, must, MUUUUUST learn the basics of running in minimalist shoes before you start running. Many people who run in regular shoes use a "heel strike". Heel striking involves hitting the ground with the heel first while running. This is poor running technique with any kind of shoe, but it's even worse if you're wearing minimalist shoes. In minimalist shoes there's no padded heel to save your body from fractures or bruising. Running in minimalist shoes requires you to run with an upright posture and using the forefoot. Here's a nice little video to get your started. 

Step #6: Ease into barefoot running 

Now that you've covered your bases, you can ease yourself into minimalist running. Running on softer surfaces such as trails, grass, and sand, would be a good place to start. Then ease into running on harder surfaces like sidewalks. Take it easy, listen to your body, and take time off if something doesn't feel right. Remember to regularly roam roll and fascial release. There are numerous forms of physical activity and exercise, and they can all be dangerous. You need to prepare your body gradually and learn the technique involved for any method of fitness. Barefoot/Minimalist running is no different!


Friday, June 5, 2015

Coconut & Almond Butter Smoothie Bowl!

I've been on a bit of a smoothie bowl kick, the last one I posted was a delicious berry and spinach recipe. However, this smoothie bowl I'm talking about today is a little heavier, a little richer, and it tastes so good it could almost be a dessert! I'm not kidding. 

This Coconut & Almond Butter Smoothie Bowl is loaded with great fats and it only takes a minute to make. The ingredients are simple, and you can use just about any toppings you enjoy. It's the kind of meal you can throw together in a pinch and it will keep you satisfied for hours. 

Here's What You'll Need: 

- 1 Banana
- 1-2 tbls natural almond butter (cashew butter, or peanut butter could work too)
- 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk (use more or less to your liking) 
- Toppings (I used cocoa nibs, toasted coconut, and chia seeds. You could use other toppings like sunflower seeds, pecans, pumpkin seeds etc.)

Here's How To Put It Together: 

- In a blender, add your banana, almond butter, coconut milk, and just enough water to make the mixture blend
- Blend until it's all smooth
- Pour the smoothie into a bowl
- Sprinkle on your favourite toppings! I used toasted coconut, cocoa nibs, and chia seeds

- Tim 

Monday, June 1, 2015

The 2 Worst Bodyweight Exercises No One Should Do!

 Today I'm going to dive into detail on two of the most over used, dangerous/damaging, and ineffective bodyweight exercises being used today. Believe it or not, these two exercises are ones I see performed on a daily basis in parks and gyms by both avid fitness enthusiasts and new trainees. Even WORSE, there are some trainers out there who are still programming these two exercises for their clients!

  Don't get me wrong, I've done these exercises in the past. Regretfully, I even programmed them in my early days. However, I started completely removed them from my clients training years ago and replaced them with much more effective and safer exercises.

 On the outside both of these bodyweight exercises seem harmless, but when taking a closer look it's not hard to see the problem with each. The bodyweight exercises I'm talking about are ...

Bench Dips and Crunches!

 Both bench dips and crunches have been around forever! They're probably two of the most recognized bodyweight exercises other than push ups and chin ups. This is probably the reason people who aren't fitness professionals add them to their bodyweight based routines. They're simple to do, require little to no equipment, and they can be done anywhere. I'm sure people also use them for the immediate "burn" you feel through the triceps during bench dips and their abs during crunches. If the muscle burns, then hey ... you must be getting a good workout, right?

 Yes, that was heavy sarcasm!

 But what about trainers/coaches who are still programming these exercises? If these are two of the worst exercises then why are so many coaches/trainers still giving them to their clients? Well, it's pretty simple ... they lack education or they're stuck in their ways! That's the only excuse for any trainer/coach to still be giving these out to their clients. If you have a trainer who is still giving you these exercises,  I would seriously suggest finding a new trainer. They're under qualified and under educated, or they just stopped learning a long time ago! Either way, they're not worth your hard earned money.

 So what's so bad about Bench Dips and Crunches?

 Well, they're two very different exercises that are being used by people in hopes of achieving different goals. Lets take a look at why they're used, why they're terrible, and what you can replace each with! Here we go ... 


Why People Do Them: Crunches are commonly used by people to train their abs in hopes of making their abs "pop" or to strengthen their core. Unfortunately, you could do 10,000 crunches a day and you're abs still wont show unless you have a low body fat percentage. If you want your abs to show you need to be eating clean. You need to cut the junk out of your diet and replace it all with fresh vegetables, fruits, meat, eggs, nuts/seeds, and good fats. You can't out work a shitty diet! 

 As for working your abs/core ... well crunches just aren't going to do the job! The main functions of the abs are to stabilize the spine by preventing rotation and extension. You could do tons of crunches and still have a weak core because you're not actually doing what your abs were designed to do in the first place. 

Why They Suck:  

- They don't train the main purpose of the abs, anti rotation and anti extension.
- They make the muscles that are commonly tight in people who sit all day even stronger/tighter. This contributes to even worse posture and dysfunction.
- They repetitively flex the spine and can cause or increase back pain and injury.
- They don't actually make your abs or core any stronger. 

What To Replace Them With:

- Planks
- Roll outs using an ab wheel or stability ball
- Hollow body holds
- L-Sit or tuck knee holds 
- Any of these ab exercises found in the video below! It's an old video, but still has exercises that hold up!

Bench Dips

Why People Do Them: They want defined triceps or they're looking to increase the size of their triceps. They're also looking to build upper body strength. If you're looking for more defined triceps, just like abs, you need a lower body fat percentage. This comes from your nutrition, see the pattern here? If you're looking for increased size of strength, there are plenty of other exercises that target and incorporate the triceps in a much safer and more effective manner. These other exercises will also have more carry over to athletics and every day life as compared to the bench dip. 

Why They Suck:

- They internally rotate the shoulder and extend it, putting the shoulder joint in a very unstable and weak position
- They add load to the shoulder joint in the unstable/weak position
- They don't work the body in a natural plane of movement 
- They reenforce poor posture 
- The only way to make them harder is to put your feet on a bench, or add more weight, making the exercise even more dangerous then it was originally
- They increase the likelihood of shoulder injuries and can be directly responsible for shoulder injuries

What To Replace Them With:

- Push Ups (done properly) will work the triceps effectively
-  Triceps extensions  (1:37 into the video)

There you have it! Those are my top 2 worst bodyweight exercises that none of you should be adding to your fitness routine. If you're doing them, stop. If you were thinking of adding them, don't! There are far more effective ways to get the results you want from your training. If you don't know where to start, want to avoid mistakes made by designing your own program or getting an under qualified coach, then check out my online training packages!

- Tim