As the workforce has witnessed a monumental shift towards the standard desk job, there has been a dramatic rise in complaints of lower back and knee pain. Are the two connected? What does sitting down in a comfortable chair for 7 to 9 hours per day have to do with your knees? As it turns out: everything. Prolonged sitting will result in the shortening of important hip flexor muscles, which, in turn, have a direct impact on your knees. Let’s take a look at how everything fits together then review the exercises you need to start doing to strengthen your flexors and stop knee pain.
USE IT OR LOSE IT
All movement originates in the core. If you are taking your core out of the equation for 7 to 9 hours each day, 5 days per week, this amount of inactivity is going to weaken these muscles. What’s more, your body will experience a shortening of the hip flexor muscles. This tightening of the muscles results in an unbalanced pull. Remember that your hip flexors are connected to your lower back and leg bones. It is these flexors that engage… You guessed it. Flexion! Weak, shortened flexors provide an uneven pull on your bones, resulting in what is called an anterior pelvic tilt.
IS PELVIC TILT REALLY THAT BAD?
Absolutely. It has been directly connected to the majority of complaints of lower back, hip, and knee pain. As you’ll see in this study from American Physical Therapy Association, pelvic tilt impacted the lumbar spinal curve, knee orientation, head mobility, and other parts of the body. Over the long term, pelvic tilt can become increasingly worse, magnifying spinal disorder and overall pain. So what can you do to stop pelvic tilt before it becomes a real problem? Let’s review the two most important muscles and the exercises to start adding into your program to stop pelvic tilt.
GLUTEUS MEDIUS AND MAXIMUS
Here are a set of muscles that certainly do not get the attention they deserve. The glutes are very important stabilizer muscles that help with everything from simply walking around to performing a series of rotational movements. But these laterally and posteriorly placed muscles can be hard to activate. Why? Think about it. You walk and run in a forward motion. You don’t walk like a crab. Therefore, you need to dedicate time to targeting these muscles. Weak abduction, particularly from glut med, can result in medial rotation of the femur, the knees collapsing inwards, and flattening of the foot arch - and that's just below the glutes. The glutes are the foundation of developing great posture and ridding yourself of pelvic tilt. Start adding the following exercises to your weekly routine after a thorough stretching session.
By providing yourself with a hip-focused day of exercises, you are ensuring that pelvic tilt will no longer be a problem in your life. If you want to stop the knee and back pain that you are experiencing, be sure to get up and move around every hour while at work. Once you're home, complete a stretching session then jump into the exercises listed above.
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Although it may not be easy to hear, personal training is, and always will be, a customer service career. No, you aren’t helping clients look for items in a store. You’re doing much more. You are the link between their current state of dissatisfaction with their health and the fitness goals they want to achieve. You can be the most knowledgeable personal trainer in the business but if you’re lacking in people skills then you’re missing a crucial element to ensuring that clients will be able to attain success. Let’s break down the link between customer satisfaction and client accomplishments.
TRAINING TAKES TIME
You know this. Your fellow trainers understand this. Clients will often ignore this. The majority of clients enter into a contract with a trainer expecting miracles. Clients will forget that success comes from their own hard work as much as it does a trainer.
YOU ARE THE ROCK
It may sound cliché but the trainer really is the emotional and physical rock of the client. Before clients hire a trainer, they have to admit to themselves that there is something wrong in their lives. They have to be up front about how they feel with themselves and their current health status. This isn’t the easiest thing to do and it often places clients into a very fragile and sensitive state. There are plenty of personal training stories about how clients have broken down during the initial physical assessment. With that said, that places a large amount of responsibility in your lap. This is where customer service will come into play.
YOU NEED TO BE AS DEDICATED AS YOUR CLIENT
Aside from being dedicated to the concrete side of the profession such as performing assessments, and creating training programs, you need to be dedicated to yourself, your passions, and your client. You need to be the reason that your client keeps coming back for more sessions. Every trainer will experience that bad string of weeks where clients stop seeing results on the scale and in how their clothes fit. When you run into this problem, are you confident your client will stick around? If not, then you need to work on your customer service skills. How do you do this?
BEST WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE SKILLS
Go the extra mile:
Open Door Policy:
Create a Client Satisfaction Survey:
Exercise and diet are only a fraction of the equation when it comes to client success. When you meet the needs of clients by adding value through positive interaction and great customer service, you are essentially making an investment in a long-term client.
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No matter which exercise you are performing, you will move through three phases. There is the concentric, or lifting phase, the isometric, or pausing phase, and the eccentric, or lowering phase. The traditional belief has been that the concentric phase of any exercise is where you’ll find real results. Recent studies, amidst a number of self-tested advocates, are claiming just the opposite. Let’s take a look at the role of the eccentric portion of movement and why this is the phase to emphasise if you want to see dramatic improvements in strength, size, and speed.
RESISTANCE TRAINING AND THE ECCENTRIC PHASE
If you want to build pure strength and muscular size, then the eccentric portion of the lift coupled with the appropriate tempo (or speed) is what will help get you there. Why? When you are lifting a weight, your muscle fibers are focused on one task: getting the weight from point A to point B. When you are lowering the weight, your muscles now have an added task: keep the weight secure, maintain the prescribed speed, AND keep fighting against the weight. Even during the eccentric portion, you’ll still provide yourself a bit of concentric-based resistance. That same set of muscle fibers must get the weight from point B to point A while staying in complete control.
This isn’t based on gym rumors, this is actual science. A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise highlighted that while the concentric portion of the lift was important, it was the eccentric portion that proved to be superior during muscle activation and long-term results.
Let’s say you’re goal is to maximize muscular size: Can eccentric training produce the results you’re looking for? Absolutely. As you’ll see in this study from Brad Schoenfield, the extensive micro tears that are produced during eccentric-based training trigger the greatest amount of muscle growth in the Type II, or fast twitch, muscle fibers.
DYNAMIC MOVEMENTS AND THE ECCENTRIC PHASE
If your fitness specialty lies in more dynamic, low volume movements such as jumping or dodging, the eccentric portion will be your ticket to amplifying overall performance. Dynamic movements such as changing direction under speed or launching yourself into the air are based on the power generated during the eccentric phase. Consider the jump squat exercise: As you lower yourself into position, your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and hip flexors are generating the energy needed to produce a single shot of maximum effort.
Fast paced movements that are absent of an isometric hold are amplified when the eccentric portion of the lift is emphasized. What about post workout when you are expected to stretch? Eccentric emphasis is king there as well. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine demonstrated that focusing on the eccentric portion during flexibility training provided the greatest benefit.
By manipulating the tempo during the eccentric portion of any exercise, you will see the greatest results. For muscular hypertrophy, take 4 seconds to completely lower the weight. For strength and power, use high volume and a faster pace. No matter what your goal, eccentric training will help you achieve it.
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Muscular hypertrophy is one of the most common goals that fitness enthusiasts look for in the fitness industry. Hypertrophy, or muscle growth, is the intentional manipulation of a specific set of variables with the goal of creating enough stress on a set of muscle fibers to trigger growth. In other words: If you want big muscles, you need to lift for hypertrophy. Recently, the fitness world has seen a shift in focus from isolation hypertrophy to functional hypertrophy. Let’s review the differences and break down why it’s more efficient and safer to lift for function, not aesthetics.
WHAT IS ISOLATED HYPERTROPHY?
Isolation hypertrophy hit the mainstream with the emergence of bodybuilding as a professional sport. This type of hypertrophy, as the name suggests, focuses on isolating each muscle group to maximize the amount of stress placed on it. The micro tears that come as a result heal and over time the muscle expands in size to accommodate the workload. Imagine performing 30 sets or more for ONLY your quadriceps or biceps. While isolation hypertrophy is ideal for a career in bodybuilding, it does not meet the needs of your average gym-goer. Those looking to gain size while increasing strength and muscle-to-muscle communication need to train for functional hypertrophy.
WHAT IS FUNCTIONAL HYPERTROPHY?
This type of hypertrophy avoids the isolation practice that has been promoted by the bodybuilding community. The idea behind functional hypertrophy is that you can gain plenty of size while improving the neuromuscular facilities of the body. By building the relationship between muscle groups, instead of keeping them separate, you boost your overall performance as well as body composition.
For example, which do you think is more effective on a functional level? Performing the Deadlift, which is a compound movement, or performing Lying Hamstring Curls, which is an isolation exercise? The Deadlift brings into play several key muscle groups including the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, lower back, and abdominals. Together, these muscles work to move the weight from point A to point B. Leg Curls, on the other hand, only focus on working the hamstrings.
DON’T CONFUSE REAL STRENGTH WITH MACHINE-BASED STRENGTH
With the bodybuilding boom that occurred decades ago, many fitness manufacturers began producing fitness machines that specifically isolated the intended muscle. The result may have been big muscles for bodybuilders but it also came with a false sense of strength. Isolating one muscle group with the intention of growth is not going to translate well when you call upon that muscle to work in a group setting.
Using the example above, what do you think would happen if the person performing Lying Hamstrings Curls suddenly began to perform Deadlifts? Do you think that person could use the same amount of weight? Maybe, but the reality is that the form and posture would probably be terrible. Working for function, calling upon several muscle groups to work together, is the best way to not only increase muscle size and strength, but also to be able to perform functional tasks in the real world. For instance, when your friends call upon you for moving day, you don’t want to be that guy who throws his back out.
BENEFITS OF FUNCTIONAL HYPERTROPHY
Burns Fat, Boosts Strength
Whether you want to gain size, increase strength, burn extra fat, or build a safety net for when you are older, functional hypertrophy is the way to do it. Focus on the big four (squats, deadlifts, bench press, and overhead press) for the most success.
If you enjoy learning more about maximing strength gains check this strength article review click here
Do you, like most gym goers, believe that it takes over an hour each day in the gym to see results? This idea of sweating it out for hours and hours each week stems from a traditional cardiovascular exercise mindset. The popularity of cardio coincided with the widespread use of in-door fitness equipment such as the treadmill. For decades, fitness enthusiasts believed that 45 to 60 minutes (or even more!) on a treadmill at a low intensity would generate the greatest amount of fat loss. Modern research is proving this is far from true. Let’s take a look at the emergence of a new type of cardiovascular training that saves you time and burns far more fat.
THE PROBLEM WITH TRADITIONAL CARDIO
The treadmill-based cardio workout that almost everyone is familiar with has one major flaw: your body will quickly plateau due to a lack of changing stimuli. The long duration of the low intensity exercise may be challenging at first but your body, in its need for homeostasis, will be hyper efficient at adapting. After several workouts, your body knows what to expect and doesn’t need to work nearly as hard as you keep working at the same incline for the same self prescribed time limit. In other words, you aren’t challenging yourself. So what is the solution? High intensity interval training.
WHAT IS HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING?
High intensity interval training, otherwise known as H.I.I.T., is a form of cardiovascular-based circuit training. Although it is traditionally based on bodyweight exercises, low volume can be incorporated. H.I.I.T. involves completing set variables for a number of exercises, targeting alternating muscle groups, in rapid succession. No rest period is allowed until you complete one full set of every exercise.
BENEFITS OF H.I.I.T.
H.I.I.T. is as intense as it sounds. Is it all just fitness hype? Not at all. One real world example is to think about runners who specialize in sprinting. They aren’t running long distances. They are utilizing maximum effort for a very short period of time. Despite very short workouts, sprinters are extremely lean and fit. Science also has a lot to say about H.I.I.T.
Workouts that are short in duration yet extremely high in intensity have been shown time and time again to be one of the most effective methods for triggering fat loss and muscle building. As you’ll see in this study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, H.I.I.T. was proven to be vastly superior to its traditional cardio (long duration/low intensity) counterpart.
One of the biggest excuses used when people don’t exercise is the amount of time it takes. Another study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism focused on just how effective H.I.I.T. was at saving time for the subjects. The result? It was confirmed that H.I.I.T. is a highly effective and time efficient way to work out.
BEGINNER’S H.I.I.T. WORKOUT
Here’s a great sample H.I.I.T. workout to get you started. Best of all, one set is going to be quick and to the point. Allot yourself 1 to 3 minutes to rest before beginning another set.
Bodyweight Squats: 20
Reverse Lunges: 20
Mountain Climbers: 15
INTERMEDIATE H.I.I.T. WORKOUT
10x100m Sprints @ 75-80% effort – Walk 30m recovery Slow jog 70m
High intensity interval training is not only the best way to burn fat and support muscle growth, but it can be performed anywhere at any time. Incorporate a H.I.I.T. workout into your routine up to four times per week for great results.
Our PT Accelerator Program has a full subject on metabolic conditioning, called 'Advanced Circuit Design'. Check it out here.
Who said that a personal training session has to be boring and intimidating? Every trainer has that client who dreads Leg Day. You won’t be able to visit a single gym without finding a trainer with clients that still insist on the treadmill for their Cardio Day. If you’re a trainer that wants to incorporate fun into your client’s workouts, then look no further than your childhood. Believe it or not, children’s school yard games are an amazing way to sweat up a storm and stay fit. Let’s revisit the top 3 kid’s games that you can utilize during your sessions.
WALL BALL DRILL
Needing only a tennis ball and a large wall, this game can be played indoors or outside. Rules may vary based on where you’re from, so it’ll be important to adjust accordingly by doing the following:
Have your client start with the tennis ball. He/She will stand at least 15 feet away from the wall.
STUCK IN THE MUD
If you are a trainer with group sessions, then this is a perfect game to utilize. It’s fun, it’s fast-paced, and client will work up a sweat.
Choose one client to be “it.”
This one requires groups of 4, and acts as a great drill to use during the warm-up process
While wanting to achieve a dream physique is hard work for your client, that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. By adding in the games mentioned above, you will provide your client with a much-needed change of pace.
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Tristan Hill, Masters of Sports Coaching, author of Lifting the Bar and mentor to Personal Trainers.