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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Plateaus Rule! Why Plateaus can be the best thing to happen in the pursuit of your fitness

It also helps if you treat fitness as a lifestyle so that it becomes your 'norm' =)

Courtesy from ACE

You summon the strength to lift your foot one more time. Your leg feels like it is made of lead. Your foot collapses to the ground and you’ve taken another step. Time to repeat on the other side. Your heavy backpack means the sweat and heat have nowhere to go and you can feel every bit of the burden as you prepare to lift your foot, your breathing heavy and fast yet still seemingly inadequate. If only you could stop for a moment to gather your strength…
Welcome to the all-uphill, all-the-time-climb! If only the terrain would level off a bit. If only you could hit a…plateau! If you are backpacking, hitting a plateau is awesome. However, with fitness, hitting a plateau is universally seen as a negative. That’s about to change.
Webster’s Dictionary defines a plateau as:
  1. A large flat area of land that is higher than the other areas of land that surround it
  2. A relatively stable level, period, or condition
There’s nothing negative in this definition. Climbing is hard work. If you come to a “plateau” or any leveled-off spot after a period of climbing and hard work, it can be a great relief as you have the opportunity to stop and rest. This rest recharges you for the next part of the climb and gives you the strength to continue your journey.
Why then is a plateau viewed so negatively with fitness? Let’s take a look at this from a slightly different perspective.


Here’s a story about a woman—let’s call her “mom” because she is, in fact, my mother. Mom is 370 pounds (168 kg), hasn’t been living healthfully in some time, has sleep apnea, high blood pressure, a long commute to work and family responsibilities that occupy her energy. One day, not long after my father died of a heart attack at 424 pounds (192 kg), mom decides she’s had enough of living this way and that it is time for change. Deciding to change doesn’t mean it will be easy or that it will happen overnight.
At first, although the general desire for change is there, the specific desire for taking action each day isn’t quite as strong. This is quite common. She has little willingness to start physical activity and decides to make changes to only her eating habits at first. She starts her climb.


A couple of years of nutrition-only changes, and mom loses 90 pounds (41 kg). She hits a plateau and isn’t losing any more weight, but still wants and needs to. She decides she is now ready to pursue some physical activity. She begins adding a couple of walks at a park and a couple of water fitness classes each week. As a result, she starts losing more weight and, after a while, hits another plateau. She feels ready to now start adding resistance training. Her son—let’s call him Jonathan—is early in his fitness career and spends some time training his mother. Again, she hits a new round of progress, hitting a total weight loss of 170 pounds (77 kg) and is now feeling fantastic with a feeling of a new life.
What is the pattern here? Progress, then a plateau, followed by more progress. This disrupts the “plateaus are bad” establishment. Every bit of progress came from making difficult changes and sustaining them for a period of time until they became sustainable. In this case, the plateau is actually a place of gathering the mental resources to make the next change—it is a form of rest. She never lost the progress she had gained. She just hit a plateau and gathered strength for the next change, the next climb. It looked a little bit like the blue line below.
If we view the two graphs above as a long hike up a large mountain, which journey looks more fun to you? The red line looks positively awful as it represents making a lot of hard changes at once and sticking with them ceaselessly. Sure, you get progress in less time—but that’s only if you survive the journey. Yet, when it comes to fitness, this is the path most often chosen.


When people hear mom’s story, they most often ask “How long did it take?” with a look of hope in their eyes. Seven years, I tell them. And then I see their eyes drop and shoulders slump. She made progress and then levelled off, made progress and levelled off, and so on. She could have made progress a little faster (it would still be measured in years) if she’d taken the hard road—the red line in the chart above. That’s what most people do—and most people fail. They do too much, too soon or go on a ridiculous juice diet to try and take a short cut. It’s often miserable, short-lived and ends in failure. Those who chose the red line approach rarely reach the peak.  
Here’s the key point to remember: The pace and amount of change must be big enough to make a real and lasting difference and keep you motivated, but it must be small enough to be manageable and realistic. This is different for everyone, which is why knowing exactly what to do and when can be so challenging.


This is why the world needs caring and competent health and fitness professionals who will coach people through the change process rather than loud, obnoxious, shirtless, showy social-media fitness stars, whose posts actually demotivate more regular people than they motivate.
On any long, difficult journey, plateaus are your friend—a chance to rest up for the next push and reflect on the progress you’ve made to that point. Let’s start viewing them that way.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

“How do I build the perfect glutes?”

So I get the question all the time..EVen I wana build it if I can hahaha...

Here are some tips and tricks :)

Courtesy of ISSA

When Clients Ask, “How Do I Build the Perfect Butt?”, Here’s My Response
You get this all the time from your clients, right?
            “My legs are bulging, but what about my butt?”
            “I really want to shape up my butt more; how do I do it?”
We want to be strong and fit, but let’s face it; we also want a perfect butt, glutes or backside. It’s by far the most common thing my clients ask for, and I have the answer.
I won’t give you all this “fluffy” stuff that you see from Instagram girls who post pictures of their booty all day. Some of them may actually give good tips, but this is the ISSA, so let me give you the science behind glute training.
First, you need to understand the muscles involved. Those that give us that nice, curvy bottom include the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.
A lot of our daily movements, like walking or running, involve these muscles, and yet, most people never train them specifically.
When you do train your gluteus muscles, it’s possible to achieve hypertrophy, or growth in the size of the muscles. The secret is to target each of the glute muscles and to progressively overload them with high intensity.
This can be achieved within any range of reps, but you get the best muscle hypertrophy results from a rep range of six to twelve and with a heavy resistance.

Can’t I Just Squat and Lunge?

From a lot of people who haven’t done their research, you’ll hear:
“Just squat more! And dead lift more!”
Squats, deadlifts, and lunges definitely hit the glutes, but they also target a lot of other muscles, like the quads, hamstrings, abs, and others.
Although some people may build a beautiful derriere from just squatting, deadlifting, and lunging, one size does not fit all and this approach may not work for everyone. For those who need a little extra help, or don't want to spend all their time in the squat rack, hit those glutes directly
If you want to really build an awesome tush, you need to hit it directly, with exercises that cause the highest percentage of muscle activation from the three gluteus muscles.
The glutes are most activated when the hips are near full extension, so focus on exercises that target the glutes and achieve this full range of motion.
Your Best Bets to Target the Glutes
Now, let’s get specific. What exactly are the best exercises for seeing growth in the glute muscles?
  • Side plank abductions
  • Single leg squats
  • Hip bridges
  • Kettle bell swings (with an emphasis on hip thrust with glute contraction)
  • Hip external rotations
  • Single-leg elevated hip thrusts
Side Plank Abduction
Glute Bridge
Most of these exercises achieve a 70% or greater maximal voluntary muscle contraction (MVIC). The higher that percentage, the more you’re working those glutes and the faster you’re moving toward bigger muscles.
Side plank abductions come out on top with 103% MVIC, and single leg squats are the next best with 82% MVIC .

Don’t Forget the Legs

From my own personal experience, I have seen the greatest results in glute muscle development when I added an additional, glute-intensive workout day.
But, I also include my legs because they are all related.
On Mondays I dedicate my workout to leg exercises that also hit the glutes:
  • Heavy barbell squats
  • Split lunges
  • Hamstring curls
  • Leg extensions
Barbell Squats
Barbell Squats
Leg Extension
I dedicate my Friday or Saturday workout to strictly “booty building” and I put my glutes through the ringer.
I attribute my progress to the progressive overload principle, which is the “gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training.”
This is the most important principle in strength training, and it gives you the best results in muscle growth and strength.
This is because our muscles increase in strength and size when they are forced to contract at tensions closest to their maximum.
To achieve this you can either:
  • Perform more reps with the same amount of weight.
  • Increase the resistance load and perform the same amount of reps.
  • Add more sets of “work” to a specific muscle group.

Train the Glutes SPECIFICALLY

The takeaway lesson here is that squats and deadlifts are not a sure guarantee of a firm and curvy backside.  You cannot simply squat and deadlift your way to a firm and curvy backside.
It’s a pretty simple principle: If I want to grow big, strong biceps, I have to train my biceps, not my triceps.
So, if your client wants to build bigger, stronger glutes? Train the heck out of the glutes, not just the other surrounding muscles in the legs.
I’ve had clients who say to me:
“I’m happy with my quad and hamstring development, but my glutes are not up to par. I want to build my glutes up more, but keep my quads and hamstrings the same size.”
A tough goal to achieve for sure, but totally possible. Most of the women who say this to me will report that they squat, deadlift, and lunge just as much as the guys.
This is exactly why their glutes are lagging behind the development of their quads and hamstrings – because most of those exercises are compound movements. The other muscles of the leg take over during the movement instead of giving the glutes their highest percent of muscle activation.
Lastly, the most important thing I tell my female clients who want bigger butts: Squats and lunges alone may not do the trick. You have to add specific, targeted glute exercises and workouts at least once a week. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Happiness is about overcoming unhappiness

A great wisdom for everyone