A large part of the health and fitness industry is based around weight loss – diet plans, fat burning supplements, weight loss programs, etc. Focusing solely on weight loss can be a slow, frustrating process that leaves us feeling discouraged.
We should instead focus on improving performance – learn how to move well, get stronger, and improve aerobic capacity. Rather than trying to lose ten pounds, try adding ten pounds to your deadlift. When we stop worrying about the number on the scale and put our effort towards improving our fitness, the rest takes care of itself.
Wanting to lose weight is perfectly acceptable, but it shouldn’t be our main focus. Let it be a result of our hard work and commitment to improving how we move and function as human beings.
We were designed to breath through our nose. Nasal breathing improves respiratory function and overall health. Here are a few important benefits:
Our noses are lined with tiny hairs called cilia – it filters and warms/cools the air that enters our body. Cilia protect us from harmful particles in the air.
Many of us take short, shallow breaths. Breathing through your nose allows for fuller, deep breaths (utilizing our diaphragm) which increases oxygen uptake and absorption – leading to increased energy production.
Breathing through our mouth stimulates our sympathetic nervous system – think fight or flight. Because we use our chest and upper lungs when mouth breathing our body feels stressed.
When we utilize nasal breathing however, the lower lung is activated which stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system – relaxation and calming.
Our feet connect our bodies to the ground. Its important to find stability in our feet to create a solid foundation for movement. We want a balanced weight distribution over the three points of your foot that contact the ground – this is called the tripod foot.
Lacking stability in your feet can affect how your body moves. Let’s look at the squat – too much pressure on the inside of your foot may result in knees collapsing in.
Too much pressure on the outside will cause your foot to lose contact with the ground making your squat less stable and strong.
To practice creating a stable foot stand tall without shoes on. Screw your feet into the ground – keep your big toe down and rotate your knees outward. This will create a slight arch in your foot.
This concept carries over to everyday activities like walking and running. Bringing awareness to your foot stability can improve how your movement looks and feels.
There is a difference between being busy and being productive. Being busy is doing a lot of stuff without a clear direction – ultimately keeping you in the same place. Being productive is completing tasks that move you forward towards your goals.
Take the time to think about what’s important to you – what do you want to achieve? When working towards a goal we need to prioritize the tasks that will move us forward.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Let’s make sure our daily tasks are focused on moving us forward instead of keeping us where we are.
To get the most out of our training we need to develop movement awareness. To improve this we should focus on what’s happening while running, biking, lifting weights, etc. Concentrating on technique will improve exercise effectiveness and promote progress.
Think about when you first learned an exercise – you had to slow things down and really think about what you were doing. This concept should continue well after the initial learning process – there are always ways to refine and improve technique.
Going through the motions mindlessly can lead to sloppy form and potential injury. We want to own our movement, be in control and move with a purpose.
Inverted rows build horizontal pulling strength. The intensity of the exercise can be easily adjusted making it a great exercise for beginners – the more upright your body is the easier it is.
(Good starting point) (More advanced)
Grab the rings and lean back – squeeze your glutes and brace your core keeping your body in a straight line. Begin by packing your shoulders- this creates tension through the shoulder joint and prepares your body to pull.
Pull yourself towards the rings squeezing your shoulder blades together as you get to your top position – this will prevent dumping the shoulder forward into a bad position.
(Tipped forward) (Pulled back – good)
Avoid over extending your spine at the top, we want the movement coming from our arms and shoulder, not from our low back. Maintain a neutral spine while you lower yourself to the start position.
The two hand rule improves spinal position awareness. It is commonly used to promote proper hinge mechanics. Begin standing tall with your glutes squeezed and your ribcage pulled down – this properly aligns your spine and pelvis. Place one hand against your sternum and the other along your waistline – we will call this position neutral.
As you hinge over the distance between your hands should not change. If the distance between your hands increases you are extending your spine. If the distance between your hands decreases you are rounding your spine. It is important to become aware of any changes in spinal position.
This drill can be used to check your spinal position while standing or sitting as well. Becoming familiar with a neutral spine will improve your movement in the gym and in your daily life.