Happy April!

For the first time leaving my house this week, it actually felt like spring. There were birds chirping, sunlight poking it’s beautiful head, and I couldn’t see my breath.

Anyway, I get most of my blog topics when I’m training myself, or reading non-training related stuff. This week, I’ve been accumulating random thoughts that don’t necessarily warrant their own post, so I figured I’d put them together in a “random thoughts” post.

1. The word “toning”

I was reading something, somewhere, by someone about women and strength training. The word ‘toning’ or ‘muscle tone’ came up, and the author deemed it worse than saying Voldemort at Hogwarts. That seems to be a common theme these days. Like any woman who has a goal of ‘toning’ is as incompetent as Tracey Anderson.

Shutup Gwenyth.

What is the big deal? What’s wrong with women wanting to lose fat and gain some muscle? That’s what toning means, even if they don’t know it. What’s more important is the MEANS of women getting the look they want. Are they focusing on larger compound movements like squats, deadlifts, pushups and pullups? Are they focusing on sound nutrition with lots of protein and veggies? Or are they wasting their time doing tricep extensions with 3lb dumbbells followed by a well-rounded breakfast of bagels and cream cheese?

May I be so bold and suggest that the word ‘toning’ is not a swear word? Maybe we can just redefine it and educate our female clients on how to get there.

Let’s start with this: Close grip pushups will help that flab under your arms.

2. Underweight Babies

Most of you know I’m a pre/post natal exercise specialist, so anything I read concerning pregnancy peaks my interest. My latest t-ride read: Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers has a whole chapter on stress and reproduction.  It had a very interesting section on underfed mothers and underweight babies:

“If you were a first trimester fetus during [a] famine, that programs you for a greater risk of heart disease, obesity, and an unhealthy cholesterol profile…But this phenomenon also applies to less dramatic situations. Within the normal range of birth weights, the lower the weight of a baby (when adjusted for body length), the greater the rise of those Metabolic syndrome problems in adulthood.”

To summarize, the metabolic system of an underfed baby becomes so efficient at storing energy (aka fat), that it’s more likely to have problems in their adult life, when food is likely to be abundant.

I know that under eating during pregnancy isn’t as common as overeating, but there is something to be said for it. If not, I just found it interesting. It is a fine balance for pregnant women. The general recommendation is to eat for 1.2 people.

ie, if you weigh 125lbs, you should eat about 1950- 2250 calories a day while pregnant.

(125lbs x 1.2 = approximately 150lbs)

(150lbs x 13-15calories/pound/day =1950- 2250 calories/day)

Yeah baby!

3. The Single Arm Dumbbell Fly

I’m not going to lie here… I saw a random member doing this and I was secretly stalking him. (A- if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I’m so creepy.)

After I tried it, what surprised me was the amount of core needed for this exercise. The more I thought about it the more it made sense; you’re lengthening a lever and moving the weight further and further from your center of gravity. Hell yeah your core’s gotta kick in! If you do this exercise with the right weight and range of motion, it’s hard as hell. I added it as a last exercise in my upper body day (after DB chest press, inverted row, DB row, and overhead press.)

I used a weight about half as heavy as my chest press (20lbs and 35lbs, respectively). It’s cool to add at the end because your chest fatigue wont be a limiting factor, and you should feel the entire side of your body tense to keep you from falling off the bench.

3. Single leg deadlift with a box

Speaking of limiting factors, many people have a hard time with single leg deadlifts because they require an enormous amount of balance. This is unfortunate because it’s such a beneficial exercise.

  • Trains the entire posterior line- mostly lats, glutes, and hamstrings, as well as the core
  • In turn, training the glutes prevents injury. Mostly for the knee and low back
  • Obviously, it trains balance and proprioception
  • Evens out leg strength discrepancies
  • Strengthens small muscles and stabilizers of the foot
  • Very knee friendly for those who can’t squat without pain
  • One of the best active hamstring stretches on this side of the Mississippi

When I program this exercise, I usually start people off using kettlebells. Reason being that when the person is in the ‘down’ portion of the movement, they can actually tap the bells to floor to borrow some stability.

However, sometimes people don’t have the flexibility or strength to start with kettlebells, so I searched for a solution to make it easier. And that is simply just add a box.

From t-nation

PS. This picture is from a great glute training article on t-nation. Read it here.

In Closing

Told you it was going to be random. To recap:

-Redefine the word ‘toning.’ It aint so bad

-If you’re preggo, it’s critically important to get the right amount of calories. Even more so important to get your calories from whole and unprocessed foods. Remember the formula:

(Your pre-pregnancy bodyweight x 1.2) = Ylbs

(Ylbs x15/calories per pound per day) =  Calories/day

-If you’re not doing single arm dumbbell flies and single leg deadlifts, you should be.