Monthly Archives: July 2014

To Stretch or Not to Stretch – That is the question….

One of the questions I get asked most often as a Personal Trainer is whether stretching is good before or after a workout. I recently came across an article in the May 2013 IDEA Fitness Journal entitled “Stretching’s Impact on Strength.”  You can interpret the conclusion as you wish, but I thought I’d share the research so you can make an educated decision about your workout and get the most out of your strength gains with a stretching session PRE-workout (it does not examine the post workout stretch at all).

To stretch or not to stretch for improved strength is a question that endures. Some support the practice; others don’t. A new study may have put the debate to rest.

Published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (2012; doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31828054b7), the study aimed to determine what impact – if any – stretching would have on stren01trianlgepose gth production. The researchers employed three procedures: a warm-up plus static stretching before each session; a stretch prior to each training set; and no stretch at all throughout the session. Thirty participants were divided among the three groups for 10 weeks. The strength component featured eight exercise performed at an 8-repetition maximum. The researchers measured strength levels and basal serum insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1 – which is an anabolic agent that is released mostly from the liver, and occasionally from the bone, fat cells, testes and heart to stimulate tissue growth) before and after the intervention. Final data revealed strength improvements across all exercise for the no-stretch group, but only in some exercises for both stretching groups. The no-stretch group also showed increases in IGF-1 post exercise, whereas the others did not.Capture

The authors concluded that strength can improve with a pre-stretch, an in-workout stretch or no stretch at all – but in this study, the most significant impact on both strength and IGF-1 occurred in the no stretch group.

 

Is THAT what You call Commitment?

Throughout your day, if you really think about it you commit to a lot. You commit to the outfit you’re wearing. You commit to wearing your seatbelt on the way to school/work. You commit to riding your bike or walking to work. You commit to your responsibilities at work. You commit to cooking supper or maybe choosing where to pick up something to eat. You commit to taking the dog for a walk or going to the gym. You commit to sleeping at night.

Do you think of it that way? Do you see your life as a series of choices to commitments you make?

Maybe I’m off… maybe your car is broken so you HAVE to ride your bike or walk. Maybe your favorite shirt is dirty so you HAVE to wear the other shirt. Maybe it’s raining out so you HAVE to find a different way of exercising. But really, don’t you still have a choice in committing to these things at a certain level?
I mean, you could call for a ride, you could pick your 2nd favorite shirt, you could embrace your exercising alternative… do you see what I mean?

I’m not saying that you need to walk around and high five everyone you pass on the street because you were “tasked” with picking up all of the dog poop at a recent volunteer event… but you could at the very least remain a pleasant human being. I think most people would agree that isn’t the best job in the world, but you are greatly appreciated for doing it. Pull up your big kid pants and put a smile on your face- after all, it’s only temporary!

There are other times when you choose to do things- like attend an after work event with coworkers. It’s up to you to be mindful and respectful of all of the others present with your conversation… meaning, you aren’t bashing those who chose not to come. And you aren’t negatively simmering over the fact that you showed up. You are simply there and enjoying whatever unfolds. Choosing to see the bright side of your choice and only worrying about yourself.

Commitment… what does it look like? In my mind, it looks strong. It looks reassuring. It looks positive. It looks attractive.

What does your commitment look like?

example

You are Allowed.

Dear Self,

Sometimes you push too hard. You forget to take a break for fear of failure. You let those silly voices tell you that ‘you are not worthy of rejuvenation because the person next to you must be working harder. You have to keep going. Even allowing one hour or one evening of rest will undo all of your efforts. Get up. Get going. Keep going’.

Do you ever find yourself feeling this way? It might be at work, or at the gym, or at your place of residence… this overwhelming sense of guilt for daring to listen to your body and take care of yourself by breaking for a nap to to watch your favorite show or read a chapter in your book. I do- like, all the time. I found myself in this predicament last week. The previous week at work had been pretty crazy and I don’t think I ever did recover. You know, because there’s always a house to clean, a dog to walk, clothes and dishes to wash… the list never ends. Every time I thought about sitting down I would feel like I was just wasting time.

I could feel my body telling me I better slow down “or else” on Monday, but once again ignored it; I had stuff to do!

And then it hit me. HARD. By mid-afternoon Tuesday I felt physically and emotionally exhausted. It hurt to sit. And think. And function. By the time I got home I was going back and forth from tearing up to yawning. All I thought about was taking the dog for a walk and picking up the house and finishing the dishes and cleaning off the counters and all of the other little things that I felt like I HAD to get done that night or risk total failure as a human. (I know, I know… totally ridiculous, right?!) But … my body had officially had enough.

So I stopped. I allowed myself permission and space to just sit, and then just sleep. After a 2 hour “dead sleep” nap plus a full nights’ sleep, I woke up the next day feeling human again.

In a go-go-go world, it’s easy to get caught up in a rough cycle that will eventually lead to breakdown. It’s important that we remember that the majority of people feel this way- that we are all “competing” for that “I’m the busiest person” trophy… and yet, you don’t win a prize for that.

Slow down.

Allow yourself to sit and enjoy life- whether it’s through a hobby, a phone call to a friend/family member, or even taking a little bit of time to catch up on your favorite TV show. From my experience, the police won’t show up on your doorstep because you chose to take care of yourself… and the dishes/clothes/messes will be there tomorrow.

How will you slow down this week?

slowdown

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