Friday, December 20, 2013

Record Breaking Fitness

I gotta say I love my job. In 2013 I did a lot of coaching in the form of personal training, myofascial assisted stretch, and over 250 individual athletic tests. What I love about athletic testing is that you can help quantify people’s ability, give them feedback about their performance, and then cut them loose to with the knowledge on how to improve, as well as a yard stick to measure by. Cool stuff.

However, today was quite a surprise. In the seven years of Athletic testing at the Bentall Centre Athletic Club, I haven’t seen major records broken like this in both the Men’s and Woman’s categories.

First, with is permission, let me tell you a little something about Chris Waite. Here’s a guy in his early 40’s with young family who trains 3-4 night a week in jujutsu, among skiing, weights, and running. Not only did he lose 5 kg since August 6th, but he added 15% to his aerobic capacity, 10% to his hand grips (128kg combined), and 6 cm to his vertical jump, all while losing 3.5% body fat landing at 14.89%. Wow.

So, I’d like to applaud the fact he now holds the club record for consecutive full push ups at 84. Beating the record set by a 26 year old in 2012 of 83reps. Awesome. Next, I can’t even believe… Chris managed a straight up standing vertical jump of 65cm. Another Club vertical jump record. 5080watts per jump. Well done for Chris on a 168cm frame.

Next, I’d like to give credit to Anahita Mohammadi. Another fitness enthusiast who also cracked the women’s modified push up record completing consecutive 60 reps. She also attained a perfect composite musculoskeletal score, and took many steps forward in her journey to her ultimate fitness goals.

Thanks for the great surprises today. See you next year!

May 2014 be fun filled fitness for all of you.


Friday, December 13, 2013

What is a Workout? ...

  • A Workout is 25 percent perspiration and 75 percent determination. Stated another way, it is one part physical exertion, and three parts self discipline.... It's easy once you get started.

  • A Workout makes you better than you were yesterday. It strengthens the body, relaxes the mind, and toughens the spirit. When you workout regularly, your problems diminish and your confidence grows.

  • A Workout is a personal triumph over laziness and procrastination. It's the badge of a winner - and a person who has taken control of their destiny.

  • A Workout is a wise use of time and an investment in excellence. It's a way of preparing for life's challenges and proving to yourself that you have what it takes to do what is necessary.

  • A Workout is a key that helps us unlock the door to opportunity and success.

  • When you finish A Workout, you don't simply feel better, You feel better about yourself! 
If you need help planning a workout, or some assistance on how to live better or play harder, please contact We are located in the Bentall Centre Athletic Club in Vancouver BC, and the BodyStorm Gym in Squamish BC.

We look forward to meeting you soon.

A reminder from the fitness institute 1996.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Exercise to avoid…Getting Sick Next Year!

Regular resistance exercise over a long period of time builds the immune system according to a study at Acadia University of Nova Scotia in 2004. Twenty two adults who worked out for 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity, three times a week for 11 months enjoyed a significant improvement to their defences against viral infection. The tests showed that there was a significant increase in the body's natural killer cell activity, which is the immune system's first line of defense against viral infection.
In addition, previous research of people doing up to three months of resistance exercise did not find the same increase in immune system activity, and the more recent update suggests that the extended period of exercise could be the major influence in strengthening the immune system.
Here’s a link to web MD which I think has solid advice about how to improve your wellness through this cold season, and the next.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Feeling Blue? Some secrets to dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)

Fall is a great time of year! Bright yellow, orange, red and green are the colours of the changing season. Crisp wind, brisk cardio, warm clothes, hot food, and cosy indoor time are some of the highlights.  But for many (and especially those who are not native of the area) the additional darkness can create some trouble functioning in a normal capacity. Many report feelings of depression, lethargy, and a general lack of inspiration. These are some of symptoms associated with S.A.D. or Seasonal Affective Disorder which is a real issue for many.
The going theory is that the shorter days, and the fall overcast skies disrupt our circadian rhythms. The circadian rhythms in general, are the body’s normal day-in-day-out cycles that are synchronized around things like light & dark, warm & cool, meals, exercise and stress.  In the coming weeks in Southern British Columbia the sunrise is around 7:25am and sunset is around 4:15pm giving us only eight and a half hours of light, and fifteen and a half hours of darkness.  The issue with the increased darkness is that many of us do not recieve the wonderful things that sunshine brings to our lives, like the vitamin D we produce in our skin, and also the stimulus on the retina of our eye that fuels us to create good hormones in our body that making us feel energized, awake, and inspired.
These “sunshine substances” are often referred to as endorphins and produced in the pituitary gland and hypothalamus in the brain. One of them is dopamine which has been shown to have a role in boosting both the immune system and motor control. Another is serotonin, which gives us feelings of well being and happiness, and has positive effects on blood pressure, appetite, sleep, and bone density. Serotonin has also been correlated to increasing cognitive factors like memory and hearing.
So, without the sun’s full spectrum of the light rays on our eyes and body, we don’t get enough stimulation to make the right quantity of endorphins, thus leaving people feeling depleted. However, with 45mins of any vigorous physical activity 5 – 7 days per week you can beat the autumn blues by producing more of the endorphins to avoid depression associated with the changing seasons. We call this Mechanotransduction. It’s the mechanical stimulus on the body’s cells that kick start pituitary, hypothalamus and the feel good process in the absence of direct sunlight.  Essentially, the secret beating SAD is: ….. EXERCISE.
Addendum:  Other known approaches to dealing with SAD in conjunction to physical activity:
  • Sunshine holidays (if you can afford it). Go to a location where the day/night balance is equal (12hrs/12hrs). 
  • Sit in front of a full spectrum light box for 10 – 15mins per day
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol intake.
  • Reduce oversleeping, 7-9 hours of sleep is ideal for adults.
  • Reduce high calorie meals (overeating can cause you to be lethargic).
Last, depression is a very real and serious issue. If you continue to feel sad despite trying exercise and light therapy, please see your physician as there are some prescription antidepressants which can help you get back to functioning at your optimum until the longer days of spring and summer return.

Here's some of my favorite rainy day activities.



Friday, August 23, 2013

Eat Less to Live Longer? Maybe...

Eating a low-calories diet may one day be widely promoted as a way to live longer. For decades, science has demonstrated that laboratory mice live longer on low calorie diets. A study at the University of California, Riverside, showed that even older mice, at 19 months, lived 42 percent longer than mice on standard fair after their calorie intake was reduced. Those on lifelong calorie restriction live even longer, up to almost twice the average lifespan. Cancer in mice on restricted calories typically happens later in life, and grows slower than mice on average diets. It's still uncertain whether all of the same low calorie benefits are available in humans.

Dr. John Holloszy from Washington University reports that calorie restriction (in humans) has "a tremendous effect on the risk for atherosclerosis". People who take in about 60% of the daily calories consumed by the typical North American diet - score the lowest percentiles of the population for heart disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and body fat.

Refueling your body, and restoring vital nutrients is essential for everyone. However, the Spartan diet requires a plateful of discipline....

Some tips:
  • Pay more attention to when you are eating your meals
  • Stay away from sugary soft drinks and stay hydrated with water
  • Avoid subscribing to "no-carb" diets
  • Don't eat too much animal protein or deep fried foods
  • Eat more greens, vegetables, and fruit
  • Put less on your plate and wait 10 -20 mins before going back for more
  • And last, my biggest difficulty...  sugar is highly addictive, do your best not to indulge in sweets everyday.
Hope that helps


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fitness Can Be Profitable $$$

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that small-business owners who exercise regularly do feel better in their work than sedentary entrepreneurs. And among the exercisers... runners generate more sales than weightlifters. At least that's what Ball State University researchers concluded after asking 336 small-business owners about their exercise regimes and sales figures.

Go Figure. Run Forrest, RUN!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Personal Training - Who's doing the real work?

My daughter Gabriela showing us great technique on a deep squat. I especially think the "up eyebrows" will guarantee a clean lift.
I'm not one to criticize the value and quality of work provided by most certified personal trainers. But, it's important to keep in mind that more fitness is purchased with sweat than with dollars. Fitness is about doing something great for yourself. No one else can do the work for you.
You don't need a PhD to plan a moderate workout. Just take a hike. If you want a vigorous workout, speed up , go farther, or go up hills.
Of course, among other services, a Kinesiologist can offer you more specialized athletic services such as Athletic Testing, Assisted Myofascial Stretch, and Performance Coaching. The combination of all three aspects of my practice have really proven to be a winning combination. Why?
The athletic testing clearly identifies strengths and weaknesses. It can also show you things like how your weight gain or loss affects performance. ( not everyone is better skinny), or what type of cardio actually benefits YOU the most.  Assisted stretch can relieve aches and pains and attempt to create the optimal body balance. And performance coaching uses peer reviewed literature and scientific methodology to retain the best results.  
A personal trainer can give you weight-loss advice, companionship, vital motivation, relief from boredom, instruction on injury avoidance, and help with your sports, exercise plans and techniques. Hiring a trainer for big dollars won't necessarily give you a better workout or lead to better fitness. Typical fees can be $15 to $150 per hour. And for many, every penny is worth it.
Interestingly, media reports that celebrity trainers can earn more than $1000 per hour. Wowza! If the client star maintains a workout pulse rate of 150 beats per minute, his trainer will collect $1 for every nine beats. That's not bad pay, especially for a person who's telling the other guy to do all the real work.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Crunch Time.... for Athletic Abs

Whether you want do abdominals for athletic performance,  a rippled mid section, general health, therapy or rehabilitation... ignore the hyped formulae you see on TV or the Internet. Do ab exercise suited to you. Advocating high reps of any one exercise is often bad advice. "One crunch doesn't fit all " says Dr. Michele Olson of Auburn University exercise science. Here's our advice:
  • The best way to develop a '6pack' abdominal muscles is to lose weight through a general conditioning program.
  • Be smart with your calorie intake, eat a balanced diet, and don't drink too much alcohol. "Athletic Abs are made in the kitchen".
  • Spend less time doing ab exercises.
  • Consider Multiplainer movements in all three planes: Saggital, Frontal, Tranverse Planes.
  • Go for variety of exercises that employ compound muscle exercises. Like Squats!
  • Perform 15- 20 reps of each. Abs are mostly endurance muscles. Don't train to increase size.
  • Avoid movements that compress the lower back such as back-lying leg raises, the yoga boat, and the advanced Pilates teaser.

To find how to effectively train your core in all 3 movement planes please email . He is able to take bookings at the Bentall Centre Athletic Club in Vancouver, or Body Storm in Squamish, BC.

thanks Jason Sumner for the ab image.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Plan Physical Activity on Your Travel Itinerary - By Mike Manning

The prospect of traveling can fill a person with anticipation. It can also be fraught with stress, what with the toll that a long journey can take on a person, the demands of a working trip, and a full schedule. Be sure to include fitness into your plans. You will feel better, be able to handle the pressures that are placed on your shoulders, and have a more positive experience.

Stay on the Move as Often as Possible

If you are driving to your destination, plan breaks along the way to get out in move. Sitting for too long is dangerous for your health and can lead to fatigue as well. Pull over at a rest stop and take a walk. If you see a pleasant park, stop a while, stretch, and stroll on the path. If you're waiting in the airport or a depot, get moving. Take the stairs several times and make the rounds until it is time to depart. If you're fortunate to be in an airport like San Francisco International Airport or Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, you can even take advantage of yoga classes and a walking path. Once you are on the plane, you can continue to take walks on the plane. According to, this is important for staying limber and having good circulation. Bring your own water bottle to maintain hydration.

Your Hotel- Choose Wisely

When you are planning your accommodations, select a hotel or resort with a quality fitness center and a pool. Many hotels are now offering exercise classes as part of the passage for health-conscious individuals. On a recent trip to San Francisco I was able to book a hotel with a great fitness center because I did a little due diligence on a travel reviews site. This review site gave me a list of the best hotels in San Francisco and I could see what type of fitness center they offered and if they had good fitness classes complimentary. Once you arrive, if it isn't too late, get out and take a walk around the area. If you are a runner, now might be the time for that jog. Be sure to include your exercise routine, whether you swim, go to the fitness room, or sign up for a class. Don’t forget to pack your fitness attire (and your runners) and add a resistance band in your bag for some simple strength training. Last, make sure you get plenty of rest. A good night's sleep allows your body to make repairs and recharge, maintaining systems at optimal levels and a good supply of energy.
Executive Fitness in Vancouver, Canada
If your travels ever take you to Vancouver, British Columbia,  I'd like to introduce you to The Bentall Centre Athletic Club....located in the heart of Vancouver's business district at 1055 Dunsmuir Street. Whether its Squash, Boxing, Weights, Yoga, Treadmill, Spin, Boot Camp, or 1on1 personal training, the full service 22 000 sq feet of recreational space has all the amenities you desire. For more information, class schedule, and panoramic virtual tour visit
And don't forget to enjoy a eucalyptus steam before you leave...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Appropriate Hydration for Intense Physical Activity - By Eve Pearse

With heart disease and stroke accounting for over a quarter of deaths each year in Canada, it’s no surprise that a lot of emphasis has been placed on what constitutes a good diet for a healthy heart and circulation. We’ve all heard the advice to reduce our salt intake; many of us who are health conscious have dispensed with a salt shaker and try to cook from scratch as much as we can. However, while this avoidance of salt is beneficial to most people, owing to its potential to lower blood pressure, for those of us who take part in intense and prolonged exercise, being overly cautious with salt could actually do more harm than good. Sodium is lost in sweat, along with smaller quantities of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and urea which we obviously produce more of when we really push ourselves during exercise or take part in endurance activities such as distance running, cycling, and triathlons. If our sodium levels – or indeed levels of any other electrolytes - become depleted, this can be detrimental to our health. Here we consider why a little salt can actually be beneficial when participating in endurance activities.

Sodium as an important electrolyte

Salt is composed of sodium and chloride ions, both of which play an important role in maintaining conditions within the body to promote good health. Sodium is found within all body fluids and not only is sodium crucial to maintain fluid balance, but along with other electrolytes it also preserves nerve and muscle function.
To retain the correct amount of fluid within the body, sodium helps to control the loss of fluid as urine. Specific cells within the kidneys are able to detect if blood pressure changes, which occurs when the amount of fluid in the blood alters. When a drop in blood pressure is detected, a hormone known as aldosterone is secreted. This triggers increased reuptake of sodium, drawing in more water to restore the circulating blood volume.
Body functions and movement are controlled by the nervous system through the conduction of electrical impulses along nerve fibres. The exchange of sodium and potassium ions through the cell membranes of nerves allows the electrical impulses to be produced and to travel to the target area of the body.

Sodium loss through physical activity

During prolonged exercise, if sodium losses are not replaced,
the fall of sodium within the body causes water to move into our cells. As a result, blood volume decreases, compounding water loss through sweating, leading to a fall in blood pressure; this can be accompanied by tiredness, feeling dizzy, an irregular heartbeat, a blurring of vision or fainting. On top of affecting performance, these signs can put your safety on the line. Progression of low sodium results in hyponatremia, where sodium levels drop to critically low levels. When this occurs, the increase of water in body cells causes swelling, which is especially an issue if this happens within the brain; loss of consciousness and seizures are not uncommon and in the worst instances it could be fatal. In the sporting world this is often referred to as "Bonking" or "Hitting the Wall". Muscle weakness is another sign of hyponatremia and not only affects skeletal muscle, but those of the organs, so a cardiac arrest may occur. If detected early by means of recognizing symptoms and seeking medical attention,confirmation of low sodium level through a blood test allows prompt treatment and a good outcome. However, prevention remains better than cure.

Rehydration to prevent hyponatremia

When you head out to a training session for whichever sport you participate in, you may just take water, as naturally it seems the best way to top up your fluid levels. However, water is not a good choice when taking part in prolonged intense physical activity ( + 90mins), as it has a low content of electrolytes including sodium. If you rely on water in such instances, rehydration won’t be complete and if you drink more water than you require, this can further dilute the sodium in your body. Drinking solely water can therefore increase your risk of developing hyponatremia. The amount and type of fluids used for rehydration purposes remains crucial.
The Dietitians of Canada have provided some guidance on the amount of fluids that endurance athletes should consume before, during and after participation in physical activity. The guidelines state that two hours prior to exercise you should drink 400 to 600ml and then for each 20 minutes of participation to have a further 150 to 350ml of fluid. To determine fluid needs after activity, weigh yourself before and afterwards, taking 450 to 675ml of fluid on board for each pound of fluid lost. However, taking a less scientific approach, if you drink according to thirst, you will ensure that your body receives as much liquid as it needs without over-hydrating.

If you are working out for less than an hour, then you can certainly rehydrate safely using water. However, for longer exercise sessions when you exert yourself more, a sport drink is an appropriate rehydration aid. Don’t forget that you will also lose more sodium in warmer weather, so even though the temperatures in Vancouver may typically be around 22°C in summer, don’t underestimate how much salt you can lose during training. A sport drink usually contains sodium and potassium along with a source of carbohydrate, though other electrolytes such as magnesium and calcium may also be present. It is easy to create a homemade sport drink using water, fruit juice and a pinch of salt rather than relying on commercial products.
While this isn’t an excuse to start being generous with the salt shaker again, if you take part in extended exercise, particularly if it’s warmer than usual, there’s no harm to add a pinch of salt to a meal beforehand or afterwards.
Thanks Eve Pearse for another very informative article.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Improve Muscle Recovery

Wellness Vancouver would like to thank guest writer Eve Pearce for contributing the article below. She’s a freelance writer based out of Halifax, UK.

Foods that Can Improve Muscle Recovery Time

The phrase ‘no pain no gain’ definitely applies to working out. After a vigorous session at the gym, muscle ache can sometimes make you think twice about going to your next workout. Muscles take time to recover after exercise, which can leave you in a state of discomfort. What is the best means of minimizing the period that it takes for you to stop hurting? One approach could be to tailor your diet so that what you eat improves your recovery time. An article published by Women’s Health magazine indicates that lemon verbena extract is a natural remedy for sore muscles. The magazine recommends taking a gram each day. This South American shrub is one of many foods that can be consumed in order to help rid yourself of painful muscles as quickly as possible.

Black Cod (Local B.C. Sable Fish)

Those who wish to gain bigger arms and legs and tone your bodies up will have to suffer to an extent in order to do so, as the ache that is experienced is a reminder that you are working hard and building muscle. However, most people want this reminder to last for as short a period as possible. A good way of minimizing it is to eat black cod, as according to nutrition expert Jennifer Grossman, this type of fish possesses particularly high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been demonstrated to decrease muscle soreness after vigorous exercise sessions by thirty-five percent. These acids also reduce inflammation and increase the range of motion. Other fish that are particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids include herring, sardines, mackerel, salmon and halibut. Significant amounts of these acids are also present in krill oil, flaxseed oil, hemp oil, echium oil, kiwifruit seed oil and mountain peanut oil.


Pineapple is another good food for aiding muscle recovery. It contains an enzyme known as bromelain that can reduce inflammation and muscle soreness. It is packed with vitamin C as well, which research carried out by the University of Bath in the UK suggests has modest benefits with regards to easing muscle pain brought about by exercise.

Ginger and Mauka Honey

Ginger possesses gingerols, which have a similar anti-inflammatory effect to bromelain and can therefore also help to reduce pain and discomfort after a workout. Sports nutrition expert Marie Spano recommends taking two grams of ginger a day for this purpose. Manuka honey is a beneficial recovery food as well, as it not only reduces inflammation but also helps to rebuild muscle fibres, making it a useful addition to the diet of anybody who regularly works out.


The spice turmeric possesses a chemical known as curcumin, which has a potent anti-inflammatory effect. It also provides you with antioxidants that reduce soreness and aid muscle recovery. These factors make it the perfect spice to include in your food after a particularly hard workout that has left your body sore all over.


Eating mangoes may also help to reduce the pain and discomfort that you experience post-exercise, as research published in the Pharmacognosy Review journal indicates that they possess anti-inflammatory properties. They are rich in vitamin E as well, which aids muscle repair according to the results of a study conducted by Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta, USA. Improving the speed at which your muscles recover at can maximize the amount of time that you can dedicate to optimizing your levels of fitness and getting in shape. Adapt your diet accordingly and you can decrease the discomfort that you experience and help to alleviate the pain that can sometimes be caused by pushing yourself to the max in the gym.


Whilst it is true that muscle ache is nothing out of the ordinary after a vigorous workout, it still isn’t particularly pleasurable and might put off some people participating in regular exercise sessions. Consuming foodstuffs that aid muscle recovery is by no means a miracle cure that will alleviate all of your aches and pains the minute that you do it. However it can provide a helping hand.

FYI:  from Cameron Hunt BHK

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or D.O.M.S. is your body’s natural system telling you that cellular restoration is underway … and I usually listen. As you exercise it is normal have some cellar breakdown or micro hemorrhage in the sarcolemma (or muscle fibers). To a degree, the muscle breakdown cycle is desirable because it allows for regrowth, regeneration, and eventually leads to increases in strength and lean mass. DOMS can normally persist for 2 days, but if it lasts longer than 48hrs it’s a sign of overtraining. Last, DOMS is usually worse after a period of inactivity and then eases up with regular participation in physical activity. However, if you are constantly experiencing DOMS after every workout, you could be overdoing it, or participating in exercise that isn’t quite right for you.

Recovery From Rest

Many people overlook the necessity for deep sleep when participating in strength training / hard physical activity / involvement in a new fitness regime. For most adults it’s recommended to get a least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, but for DOMS and intense physical activity its recommend to attain 8 – 9 hours of sleep per night to enhance muscle recovery.

Recovery From Sunshine
Vitamin D is systhesized in the body from sunshine is an essential ingredient for healthy immune system and positive mental state. By exposing our skin to the appropriate amount of direct sunlight +/-20 mins regularly, can help muscle recovery and is implicit in maintaining strong healthy bones for those muscles to move.

Overall, get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, eat foods with anti-inflammatory properties and opt for foodstuffs that are rich in vitamin C and vitamin E and you can make working out and improving your body as pain-free an experience as possible.
Thanks EVE!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Athletic Core Training - Part 2

On Feburary 1st 2013 we brushed up on the basics of Athletic Core Conditioning. To review, my first recommendation is that you understand what “neutral spine” is, and why this position is best for your spine on both day-to-day-posture and additionally strength training.  I introduced the analogy of the “core cylinder” in regards to muscle balance around the whole torso to best protect your spine. And last I recommended training multi-directional movements in all 3 three body planes avoid injury, dysfunction, and/or poor performance.  

Part Four: Breathe


When focusing on core training remember to breathe. And when I say “breathe”, I mean slow and controlled and timed so that your breath is fully exhaled when you complete your repetition. For many, this equates to moving a lot slower than what you might be used to. The reason is for twofold:  The first is that your TVA (transverse abdominis) works synergistically with your diaphragm to get air in and out of your lungs, so training the muscles together in full range of motion is beneficial, and the second is that short choppy breaths are usually different from your usual pattern of breathing in exercise and less transferrable.  Therefore training your TVA contraction with a full breath out you will be better able to control and tighten the corset like nature of your TVA, and enhance your most inner core muscles.

Nice TVA Curl

Part Five: Compound Muscle Movements

For the bulk of your core training try to incorporate full body movement or compound muscle exercise instead of isolation exercise. By choosing movements which employ your arms and legs in conjunction to your core you will train a more natural system of movement and add extra stability to your torso. For those unfamiliar with compound exercises, they consist of multiple muscle groups over multiple joints. An example might be a rotational cable twist, an overhead one arm snatch, dips, chin ups, or classic squats. By training exercises that use your arms and legs at the same time as your core, the benefit is greatly amplified through the intensity and specificity of movement resembling to your athletic endeavors.


 Six: Train Deep and superficial


A few core muscles commonly neglected in the typical abdominal crunch routine is the transverse abdominis, Psoas, iliacus, and multifidus. They are found deeper in the core and are important because the offer more spine stability and hip stability. When you only complete the typical core crunch these muscles are somewhat neglected.  Furthermore, if left untrained …. ( as the rest of the body develops), the resulting muscle imbalance can be painful and confusing. Use the TVA crunches described above, and also employ a (face down) prone  ball jackknives over a swiss ball to improve the illopsoas. For the multifidus muscles, do a slow, smooth, and complete (face down) prone  back extension over a swiss ball. Use every segment of your vertebrae to reach full extension to innervate all the multifidus and hold for a moment at the end with the low back (quadratus lumborum). That should do the trick.


Seven: Better Core means Better Balance.  (And vice versa)

 Besides the vestibular apparatus in your ears, much of your balance comes from proprioception in your pelvis. This is because of the large amount of nerve endings in the core allows you to sense where your body is relative to the world around you. So as your core strength improves, your stability & balance does aswell because of the increase of motor units (nerve endings) in the abdominal area. On the flip side, if you include balance training in your routine, your core strength will also improve. Try balancing on wobble boards inbetween sets in the gym. It’s a good use of time and what I call:  a win/win situation.

Hope that makes you hardCORE.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Athletic Core Training - Part 1

This year, the first goal in your personal training regime is to improve your core. Before you can move forward with strength, power, or endurance, it’s important to ensure that you’re able to maintain and control neutral spine. Besides injury reduction, extra core strength means many things:  better balance, better breathing, more agility, more stability, more arm strength, more leg strength, and increased efficiency of energy transmission from all quadrants of your body.


What the heck is neutral spine? Neutral spine is where the all vertebrae and spinal curves are situated in the best alignment to provide the most mechanical strength and facilitate optimal movement.  Everyone’s neutral spine is slightly different, but here’s an easy way to locate and remember what it means for you.

Lie down supine (Face up) on a firm surface. You can put a small block under your head like illustrated in the image, but it’s not essential. Next, slip one hand under the small of your lower back and note how there is a small arch your hand will snugly fit. Good. This is your lumbar curve and it’s essential you have the core strength and to maintain this position to protect your spine. As you lie there quietly on the floor, try to get a strong mental image of how it feels to be in neutral spine all the way from your head to your bum. Concentrate on what you could do to keep that neutral position.  Use this as your guide, and repeat a few times to ensure you concentrate on maintaining neutral spine  often throughout your daily routine, and fitness workouts.

Second: The Core Cylinder

Many people when considering core training usually jump to the mental image of the 6 pack stomach…  Wrong! The big mistake with focusing on the outer muscles (rectus abdominis) is that the core needs to be strong in every direction more like a cylinder or a corset. Strengthening and shortening just the front, or one side of your abdominals will leave imbalance and potentially weakness causing big problems down the line.  So, remember to touch on core movements that address strengthening muscles in all directions like the "core cylinder" in the schematic image below.

Third: Multiplanar Movements

All three planes of movement need to be considered when training to improve your core for optimal function and athletic performance. These planes are the sagittal plane, frontal plane, and traverse plane. And in English … this means the front, the back, the sides, and twist.

a) the sagittal plane refers to front flexion and back extension movements which are the typical forward core crunches, and backward extension. What this means is to balance our your strength gains equally with movements with on opposite sides of the body to maintain ideal muscle tension for optimal function. Many dysfunctions on the body can arise from imbalances in strength or flexibility from side to side, but often can be mitigated with  agonist / antagonist movements ( equally on the front & back). 
b) The frontal plane in reference to core is the side to side deviation of the spine, or simply adding or taking away from your center line. Strength in this plane might be best exemplified in a  heavy one handed overhead lift. Does your spine sway left or sway right  away from neutral as you push a weight above your head? It shouldn’t sway, and your spine should stay straight. Furthermore, by weight training with one hand at a time, or by employing cross loading exercises, you can gain core strength the frontal plane.
c) The transverse plane refers to rotation. It’s essential to train rotation and twisting for multiplanar core training movements because it reinforces bilateral cross patterning and is essential to natural human locomotion. Twist and rotation are key components many athletic movements like swinging clubs, rackets, or bats, throwing, dancing, jumping, walking, skiing, boarding, climbing,  and many more.

In summation: Every Core Training Program should identify neutral spine and then address regular exercises that cover movement in all 3 planes of movement lsited above. Although I have my favorites, it does not matter which exercises you use to improve your core as long as you don't neglect any areas mentioned above.

**** Please stay tuned for Athletic Core Training points Four, Five and Six.  It’s so poignant that it will be like a hot punch to the solar plexus….  only leaving you inspired, not expired.