You Don’t Know Squat?!

Training the prime movers of the squat is essential for maintaining fitness, a fine physique, and independence into old age. So we ALL need to practice/enhance this skill through exercise.

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Squatting is an exercise that we must do everyday. I’m not talking about putting loads of weight on your back and squatting up and down in front of a mirror. I’m talking about the motion itself! We squat when we get in and out of the car, sit down and stand up from dinner or the couch, use the toilet, and in many other daily situations. We squat while doing tasks like picking something off of the ground, getting out of bed, dancing, picking up groceries, and almost any type of athletic movement. Training the prime movers of the squat is essential for maintaining fitness, a fine physique, and independence into old age. So we ALL need to practice/enhance this skill through exercise.
There are dozens of ways that you can squat, and there are hundreds of people who claim to know the “best way” to squat. But for all intents and purposes the squat can be broken down into two basic forms. These two forms are the front and back squat, that can be further distinguished by three basic heights: partial, parallel, and full. Proper form for squatting requires keeping your back flat, heels on the floor, and knees aligned over the feet. And when we talk about the safety of squat variations you don’t just have to consider how far back you sit, how far your trunk leans, or how far your knees travel over the toes; you also have to consider how far you shift forward or backward with the bar relative to the feet, as this influences joint torques considerably. So everything considered, squatting can be very complex. If you want to ensure proper form, it may be worthwhile to seek professional advice.
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Pros And Cons
There are many benefits from squatting in any fashion, but there can also be negative outcomes. The Back Squat is good for increasing tendon, ligament, and bone strength as well as developing speed, power, and strength in the lower back, hips, and knees. The bad news is that it can cause joint degeneration, osteoarthritis and osteochondritis, muscle strains, damage to the ACL, and knee instability.
The Front Squat may be a good alternative for those with knee pain because it is just as effective regarding overall muscle recruitment with significantly less compressive forces on the knees. However, there appears to be no difference between front squat and back squat regarding shear stress on the knee, which is actually fairly low -– a lot lower than, say, knee extensions. Squat depth has been shown to have a significant effect on muscular development at the hip and knee joints. To optimize development of the gluteus maximus (the butt muscles), squats should be carried out through their full range of motion. To target the quadriceps (the thigh muscles), a squat depth of 90 degrees appears to be optimal. Hamstring activation / development are generally unaffected by squat depth. The drawback seems to be that although deep squats seem to be safe in healthy folks, those with PCL disorders should refrain from squatting below 50 to 60 degrees, and those suffering from chondromalacia, osteoarthritis, and osteochondritis may also need to avoid deep squats. Where you place the bar can also be a factor. So after a hip injury, high-bar squats should be used at the beginning to minimize the risk of hip overload. After a knee injury, a squatting technique more similar to the low-bar technique should be preferred. Finally, research shows that box squats and powerlifting squats could be “safer” for the low back compared to traditional squats.
From Noob To Pro In No Time
In this section I will go over how to learn to squat correctly for beginners, progressively squat more for novice squatters, and how to kick it up a notch for the squat masters.
Noobies
Before you go out and throw a barbell on your back, consider learning these basic moves first if you’re a beginner.
1. The hip hinge requires flexibility of the ankles, hips, and thoracic spine and stability in the feet, knees, and lumbar spine. Therefore, hitting the foam roller, or using some preparation exercises might be required pre-hip hinge. To perform this motion, start by shifting your body backwards, place your weight through the heels, and keep a neutral spine position. Practice first with hands on the hips, then add the simultaneous movement of both arms straight forward and above shoulder height.
2. Body weight squats are next. Begin by looking at a mirror to ensure your head is in a neutral position with your gaze forward or slightly up, thoracic spine (mid back) slightly straight and mobile, lumbar spine (low back) neutral and stable, hip joints mobile and bending backward behind heels, and knees stable and in alignment with your hips and feet. Additionally, your feet should be at shoulder width, in a neutral position, with your heels are firmly on the floor. Start the squat motion by beginning with a bend in the hip joints, followed by bending knees to the desired depth while ensuring that your trunk angle (from the floor) is stable in each movement phase.
3. Functional squatting exercises are important for us all. So once mobility, stability, and strength have been developed, we can get creative! See the next section for more on this.
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The novice squatter is someone with established form and proper mobility, stability, and strength. If you’re a novice squatter, you should:
1. Begin at the top by training loaded partial squats to the desired sets and repetitions. Gradually increase your range of motion while keeping in mind that the deeper you squat, the lighter the load should be.
2. Start adding more volume by increasing the frequency you squat per week. To keep it simple, squatting 3 times per week with 3 working sets per session for a total of 9 weekly sets will be plenty for the average gym goer.
3. Gradually increasing weight will be inevitable. The general rule of thumb here is to increase your load by no more than 10% each week.
The advanced squat star (squar?) will want to change things up a bit and get jiggy with it. Shake things up by going for exercises such as single leg squatsplyometric squatssquats with a band around your kneessquat burpiespistol squatsgoblet squats, and unstable squats.

25% Of Us Have Knee Pain Due To…

Just because it’s common doesn’t mean you have to develop it or that it will last forever. So don’t stop moving!

Our knees hate us. Or at least it can seem that way when they aren’t doing what we want them to do. Creaky, achy, and wonky knees are all too common among my friends when I ask them to help me move. And while those may be excuses for them, I bet it’s a reality for most of you. The sad part is that because the knee is so complex, it is often misunderstood. When you have a bum knee, rest is almost never the answer. This is particularly true for the 25% of us who will end up having knee pain due to patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) (1). Also known sometimes as runner’s knee, PFPS is a complex issue without one true solution. Let’s take a look at why the knee cap can make us feel like knee crap!
 
So What’s The Problem Again? 
As the name implies, PFPS is not a single problem but a group of signs and symptoms. Generally, the epicenter of the pain is somewhere under or around the kneecap, and will usually be mainly on the front of the knee. It can be caused by variations in strength, flexibility, patellar tracking, quadriceps angle, and patellofemoral joint (PFJ) morphology and even psychological issues such as depression, fear-avoidance, and anxiety (2). However, I like to think of PFPS as the knee leaving homeostasis. Homeostasis can be described as a zone, or “envelope of function”, where the tissue is capable of tolerating loads (3). So as you get stronger, you increase your envelope of function. And when you over-do it with your training, your knee may no longer tolerate levels of loading even during routine activities, such as descending stairs or previously well-tolerated running distances (4). In other words, when you over-do-it with your training or exercise, you may not be able to do half as much as you used to without pain.
 
How Do I Avoid/Fix The Problem?
While I would love to tell you how to screen yourself for potential red flags, there really aren’t any good predictors of injury (5). What will help you out is strengthening the quadriceps (6). By using a progressive overload scheme (aka gradually doing more over time), you can make those quads stronger and avoid pain and/or injury! Here are some exercises to try out for good quad activation and strengthening (4):
 – Knee extension with a weight attached to the ankle
 – A knee extension machine
 – Single leg squat to at least 65 degrees of knee flexion
 – Squatting between 0 and 45 degrees of knee flexion
 – Leg presses between 0 and 45 degrees of knee flexion
You can also try taping (anywhere on the front of the knee) or bracing the knee to alleviate the pain. You can pretty much tape your knee however you want because it doesn’t change the biomechanics of the knee (7). Strengthening the hip muscles will be helpful for more than just bikini season because strengthening those glutes (and other muscles of the hip) can help reduce pain and improve function (8). Similar to taping and bracing, strengthening the hips won’t improve biomechanics. Hip strengthening will, however, increase the load tolerance of the knee and supportive structures (9).
 
For Runners
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This segment is for runners, so feel free to skip it if you don’t anticipate doing a 5k anytime soon. Runners, in particular, are susceptible to having issues with their movement patterns that can lead to knee issues. Movement re-education through simple techniques can be extremely helpful for reducing knee pain. Reducing hip drop while running is a great way to help reduce knee pain. In addition to using glute strengthening techniques, mirror and verbal feedback can reduce hip drop and hip adduction (knee movement inwards) while running (10). A general increase in step rate by 5-10% can also be very beneficial for reducing knee load and pain (11). A metronome works great for achieving a faster gait pattern.
 
Summary
While knee pain may never be completely eliminated, there are some steps that can be taken to decrease pain and the likelihood of developing pain. Work toward having strong quadriceps, move with good technique and don’t advance your exercise routine too quickly. And while shock absorbing insoles and arch supports may be useless, throwing on a little tape or knee support may give you enough pain relief to build up your leg strength (12). For runners, watch yourself in the mirror and make sure you don’t have hip-drop and increase your running cadence. Just because PFPS is common doesn’t mean you have to develop it or that it will last forever. So don’t stop moving!

References

  1. Nunes, G. S., Stapait, E. L., Kirsten, M. H., de Noronha, M., & Santos, G. M. (2013). Clinical test for diagnosis of patellofemoral pain syndrome: Systematic review with meta-analysis. Physical Therapy in Sport : Official Journal of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Sports Medicine, 14(1), 54-59. doi:10.1016/j.ptsp.2012.11.003
  2. Meira, E. P., & Brumitt, J. (2011). Influence of the hip on patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome: A systematic review. Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach, 3(5), 455-465. doi:10.1177/1941738111415006
  3. Gabbett, T. J. (2016). The training-injury prevention paradox: Should athletes be training smarter and harder? British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(5), 273. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-095788
  4. Willy, R. W., & Meira, E. P. (2016). CURRENT CONCEPTS IN BIOMECHANICAL INTERVENTIONS FOR PATELLOFEMORAL PAIN. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 11(6), 877.
  5. Whittaker, J. L., Booysen, N., de la Motte, S., Dennett, L., Lewis, C. L., Wilson, D., . . . Stokes, M. (2016). Predicting sport and occupational lower extremity injury risk through movement quality screening: A systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine, , bjsports-2016-096760. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-096760
  6. Kooiker L Van De Port IG Weir A Moen MH. Effects of physical therapist-guided quadriceps-strengthening exercises for the treatment of patellofemoral pain syndrome: A systematic review. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014;44(6):391-B391.
  7. Whittingham M Palmer S Macmillan F. Effects of taping on pain and function in patellofemoral pain syndrome: A randomized controlled trial. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2004;34(9):504-510.
  8. Lack, S., Barton, C., Sohan, O., Crossley, K., & Morrissey, D. (2015). Proximal muscle rehabilitation is effective for patellofemoral pain: A systematic review with meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 49(21), 1365-1376. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-094723
  9. Willy RW Davis IS. The effect of a hip-strengthening program on mechanics during running and during a single-leg squat. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2011;41(9):625-632.
  10. Willy, R. W., Scholz, J. P., & Davis, I. S. (2012). Mirror gait retraining for the treatment of patellofemoral pain in female runners. Clinical Biomechanics (Bristol, Avon), 27(10), 1045-1051. doi:10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2012.07.011
  11. LENHART, R. L., THELEN, D. G., WILLE, C. M., CHUMANOV, E. S., & HEIDERSCHEIT, B. C. (2014;2013;). Increasing running step rate reduces patellofemoral joint forces. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 46(3), 557-564. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182a78c3a
  12. Bonanno, D. R., Landorf, K. B., Munteanu, S. E., Murley, G. S., & Menz, H. B. (2016). Effectiveness of foot orthoses and shock-absorbing insoles for the prevention of injury: A systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, , bjsports-2016-096671. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-096671

Everything In Moderation

Common causes, injuries, and solutions to the problem.

This week I wanted to talk about over-training and injury. This topic is particularly important to me because, well, it’s a big part of why I went to school to be an Athletic Trainer. In High School I played a lot of sports, and as a result, sustained a lot of injuries from over-training. So today I will share common causes, injuries, and solutions to the problem.
The Problem
Over-training is a complex beast. It’s determined by an imbalance of pro- and anti-inflammatory factors, and can rear its ugly head at the worst of times. When it comes down to it, over-training occurs when the body doesn’t have enough time to recover, and can manifest in the following ways:
elevated resting heart rate and blood pressure
loss of appetite and weight loss
chronic fatigue, workouts described as draining
chronic soreness/slow recovery rates
an increase in colds or infections
a decrease in performance, or an inability to reach training goals
lack of enthusiasm, psychological staleness
Injuries
It’s important to note that while experiencing muscle pain is normal, not all pain is good pain. Make sure you know the difference before you run to the doctor with every little nagging problem, or conversely, avoid the doc when you do have an issue. 
As a result, injuries can also pile up. I commonly see injuries of the shoulder, lower back pain, and even shin splints due to over-training just to name a few. In particular, the shoulder can be fickle. From weight lifting, to swimming, or even throwing a ball around, the shoulder is the poor joint we love to overuse. Some symptoms to look out for include an obvious deformity, it gets popped out of place, difficulty lifting the arm, clicking or popping sensation deep in the shoulder, and/or pain reaching across your body. These symptoms warrant a trip to your favorite doctor, but the good news is that many shoulder injuries DON’T require being sliced and diced to fix them.
Solution
To avoid missing long stints of exercise, you will want to treat over-training by doing… well… nothing! One of my favorite sayings is “you don’t build muscles in the gym. You build them in bed.” The key here is to make sure that you are getting enough rest and proper food to support your physical activity. You should also make sure you shake things up here and there. Doing the same thing over and over again can be stressful on the body and mind, so moderation is crucial. In fact, doing a mix of cardio, weight lifting, and HIIT (join me Monday nights at 6:15 for our HIIT Grit team training) is optimal for reaching almost any goal. On that note, it’s important to remember that you will want to increase intensity carefully. You should make small steps every day toward those goals, one pound or mile at a time. Finally, you will want to take a chill pill. Everyday stress can affect our performance in the gym, so grab a stress ball (or a beer), take deep breaths, and smile more often to feel more refreshed.

How’s That Resolution Going?

You don’t have to be perfect to get perfect, the best exercise and nutrition programs, and how to be realistic with what you’re going after.

Right about now, I bet many people are starting to say, “screw it” when they think about their 2017 resolution. And while this is indeed a shame, it’s not an eventuality. It is something that can be avoided by a little kick in the rear. Which is why I’m going to talk about how you don’t have to be perfect to get perfect, the best exercise and nutrition programs, and how to be realistic with what you’re going after. So buckle up for a quick read on how to resolve your resolution disillusion! 
 
What Do You Mean You’re Not In Perfect Shape After 3 Weeks?
One big reason why people give up on their health and fitness resolution so quickly is that they don’t see immediate returns on their investment. In fact, when we exercise, we often see the opposite. We are achy all the time, more tired than usual, stink with sweat (at least I do), and I feel like the list goes on forever. But, all that stuff goes away (invest in quality deodorant) once you push past the first month or two. The trick is really not to expect perfection. Not only do we all have flaws, we all have lives that don’t revolve around having a perfect body. Which is why, at the end of the day, it’s more important to be satisfied with what you’ve accomplished rather than be disappointed with what you didn’t. So, instead of going home and being bummed out that you didn’t get in the greatest workout, use techniques such as positive reframing, acceptance, and humor to be happier and more satisfied with how your day went (1). Be happy that you got any exercise in at all, and be satisfied knowing you truly made an effort to eat better that day.
 
You Already Know What The Best Exercise & Diet Are
People always want to know what’s the best exercise to do, or what diet works the best. The answer will forever and always be… the one that you will stick to. When it comes to your nutrition, none of the major diets reigns supreme. There is no clear cut winner when we compare any diet plan to another. As long as you can stick to it, any diet will do (2). One quick thing to note: In the short term, you will need behavioral support for friends, family, and possibly a professional for both nutrition and exercise (3). And in the long term, the effects of exercise will be more pronounced if you’re lifting weights (4)! But remember, your training program shouldn’t make you miserable. Which leads me to my last point.
 
Get Real
You aren’t going to look like a Spartan after a few weeks just because you did the “300” workout you saw on the internet. You need to set realistic goals for yourself… which can be tricky. For some, just asking yourself, “will this make me better?” is enough. For others, you may need hard and fast numbers to go by. In general, if you’re looking for fat loss, here is a formula to figure out how much you should lose per week (5):
Body fat percentage ÷ 20 = percentage of your current bodyweight you should aim to lose per week.
If you’re looking to gain muscle, you can expect to gain 4-7lbs within the first 3 months (6). And while muscle does weigh more than fat, it’s not by much. The density of muscle is about 1.06kg/L, and the density of fat is about .9kg/L.  In other words, muscle IS denser than fat, but only about 15% denser. Below is a picture of what two pounds of each looks like (7).
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What I’m trying to say is, don’t get caught up in how much you weigh for the first few months, and don’t overestimate how much muscle you will gain either. Just know that if you’re doing the right thing on a day to day basis, both metrics will improve. So don’t give up just yet if you’re not satisfied with the way you feel, what the scale says, or by how much you can lift. Everything will get better in due time as long as you stick with it!

References

  1. Stoeber, J., & Janssen, D. P. (2011). Perfectionism and coping with daily failures: Positive reframing helps achieve satisfaction at the end of the day. Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 24(5), 477-497. doi:10.1080/10615806.2011.562977
  2. Johnston, B. C., Kanters, S., Bandayrel, K., Wu, P., Naji, F., Siemieniuk, R. A., . . . Mills, E. J. (2014). Comparison of weight loss among named diet programs in overweight and obese adults: A meta-analysis. Jama, 312(9), 923-933. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.10397
  3. Zurlo, F., Larson, K., Bogardus, C., & Ravussin, E. (1990). Skeletal muscle metabolism is a major determinant of resting energy expenditure. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 86(5), 1423-1427. doi:10.1172/JCI114857
  4. Zurlo, F., Larson, K., Bogardus, C., & Ravussin, E. (1990). Skeletal muscle metabolism is a major determinant of resting energy expenditure. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 86(5), 1423-1427. doi:10.1172/JCI114857
  5. Alpert, S. S. (2005). A limit on the energy transfer rate from the human fat store in hypophagia. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 233(1), 1-13. doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2004.08.029
  6. Damas, F., Phillips, S. M., Libardi, C. A., Vechin, F. C., Lixandrão, M. E., Jannig, P. R., . . . Ugrinowitsch, C. (2016). Resistance training-induced changes in integrated myofibrillar protein synthesis are related to hypertrophy only after attenuation of muscle damage: Muscle protein synthesis, hypertrophy and muscle damage in humans. The Journal of Physiology, 594(18), 5209-5222. doi:10.1113/JP272472
  7. Wernbom, M., Augustsson, J., Thomee, R., Sahlgrenska akademin, Institute of Clinical Sciences, Section for Anesthesiology, Biomaterials and Orthopaedics, Institutionen för kliniska vetenskaper, sektionen för anestesi, biomaterial och ortopedi, . . . Göteborgs universitet. (2007). The influence of frequency, intensity, volume and mode of strength training on whole muscle cross-sectional area in humans. Cham: Adis International. doi:10.2165/00007256-200737030-00004

Resolutionary Thoughts

No matter where you are in your fitness journey, I think you will get something out of this post.

With resolution season coming up, I wanted to give some tips on how to adjust your fitness goal, and stick to your resolution! For most people, the key this time of year is to either shake things up, or start a new, safe, and enjoyable exercise program. So, no matter where you are in your fitness journey, I think you will get something out of this post 🙂
Shake It Up
One of the best ways to shake things up is to reevaluate your goals. Often times when I get stuck in a training rut, it’s because I am aimlessly exercising. To break loose from the chains of exercises staler than flat beer, I make sure I have a purpose. Whether it’s to gain muscle mass, trim down, or prepare my body for the rigors of joining a team sport, I make sure to lift accordingly. In turn, I will know exactly how much time and effort I will need to put in to see my goals come to fruition. Here are seven things to think about, and take into account, when shaking your routine up:
 1. Your training age: Are you a beginner, intermediate or advanced trainee?
 2. Your goals: Are you training for better physique, bodybuilding (muscle size), powerlifting (strength), general health and fitness, conditioning, fat loss or a combination?
 3. Your recovery ability: How well can you handle a large volume of exercise?
 4. Your split routine: Are you training your entire body, half your body, or just a body part or two in a single workout?
 5. Your personal preferences: What style of training do you enjoy the most – short and intense or long and leisurely?
 6. Your results: Is what you’re doing now working well for you?
 7. Your schedule: How much time do have available and how much are you willing to spend working out?
A New Beginning
If you’re new to the gym, or starting back up into a regular routine, it’s important to progress through your weight training safely. So here are some thoughts on when, and by how much, you should increase the iron your lifting.
1. Start small. If you’re new to lifting, start with about half as much weight as you think you can lift. This simple step can not only save you from injury, but it will save you from embarrassing yourself the day after when you cant move your arms due to DOMS.
2. Know when it’s time to increase the weight. In general, it’s safe to start lifting a little bit heavier when you’re completing your last set of an exercise with ease, and barely feeling it the next day.
3. Figure out how much weight to add. Essentially, you should be adding a little bit more weight each week for any given exercise. Pushing yourself will drive results.
The Long Haul
Regardless of your fitness goal, the overarching theme should be that of life long health and fitness. Here are some tips on how to stick to your fitness plan past February.
 1. Announce it to the world. The more people who are aware of your intentions, the more support and accountability you will have.
 2. To go along with this, create accountability measures. Make use of a journal, friend, or accountibilibudy to regularly update your progress.
 3. Tackle the goals with other people. Whether it’s a group, a friend, or hiring a professional, creating a give-and-take system will thwart the feeling of not wanting to work out.
 4. Make very specific goals or resolutions. I went over a few general thoughts on goal making, but utilizing the SMART goal making system, will help ensure your success.
 5. Do something every day. Achieving your dream body/fitness goals doesn’t happen over night. So trying to make it happen all at once isn’t the best idea. Even if it is a really small step, do something that helps you get closer to your goal every day.
 6.Pick a goal that seems impossible. The key word here is seems. That’s because you will be amazed at your self-confidence as you start actually progressing toward that goal.

The Caboose Should Come First! – Glute Training

These days, people use their keester for little more than sitting. This is a real travesty because it’s useful for so many more things we do throughout the day.

Today I will be talking about the importance of training your glutes, and how best to do it! These days, people use their keester for little more than sitting. This is a real travesty because it’s useful for so many more things we do throughout the day. As a disclaimer, I will be using as many whimsical terms as I can think of to describe the caboose so stop reading now if you don’t like laughing 🙂More Than Just A Money Maker

Your heinie is crucial for so many different movements and activities that it is impossible to cover them all in one sitting (pun intended). It’s used for simple things like walking, sitting, and even standing with proper posture, to very complex movements like squatting, jumping, and sport specific movements. Booty strength is often lacking in those who sit for long periods of time which can lead to lower back pain. And this lack of strength can even lead issues such as ACL tears, shin splints, ankle sprains, and general knee and hip pain. Such issues occur when the tooshie is week because other muscles like hamstrings, hip flexors, IT band, and groin muscles over develop and cause problems in its absences. Finally, when the behind is weak, the abs/core is in a disadvantage and can’t do its job as well either! Longs story short, glute strengthening is necessary for far more than having a rockin rump during bikini season!

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that we ALL need have strength in our bottoms. So here are a few ways to get it done!

Mindful Movement –  The first thing for everyone to do is be aware of what you’re working. Mentally slowing down and concentrating on contracting your can will encourage greater development during exercise and during daily activities. Squeezing your butt (mentally, not with your hands) while standing is a great way to develop proper posture.

Squat – When done properly, the squat is a tried and true method of firming up the fanny. There are also many ways to squat, so using different tools to get it done right may be necessary for a beginner. Making sure you keep your chest up and drive through you heels are good starting points for a novice squatter.

Single Leg RDL – Simply standing on one leg, while keeping the hips even, is another easy way to round the rear end. Once you have mastered this skill, single-leg romanian deadlifts (RDL) are, by far, my favorite way to blast the buttocks. Make sure you have the balance and stability to do this exercise before you go for it however.

Tricks or Tweaks – There are a variety of simple tricks and exercise tweaks you can use to develop a powerful posterior. Squatting with a band around your knees, increasing the range of motion on hip thrusts (or any exercise for that matter), keeping your knees behind your toes during leg exercises, and overloading the lockout of your glute exercises by fully extending the hips are all ways to advance your exercises.

The Classics – Sticking to the classics of glute strengthening is always a good idea. Supine bridges (double and single leg), clamshells, and step-ups may not be the most glamorous, (read in Yoda voice) butt they work!

Front to Back – As mentioned earlier, the core works in concert with the keester. So be sure to double your effort to contract your derriere while performing core exercises.

As fun as this has been to write, and I hope read, all good things must come to a rear end.

Better Than A 6 Pack

Because the cost of getting and maintaining 6 pack abs can be daunting for, well, everyone, I thought it would be a good idea to broaden the scope a bit. So lets take a look at what great things exercise can do for all of us.

As some of you may know, I like to drink and brew my own beer. But before you get your hopes up, today’s post has nothing to do with that! Instead, I wanted to talk about what benefits exercise can bring you besides looking good naked. Because the cost of getting and maintaining 6 pack abs can be daunting for, well, everyone, I thought it would be a good idea to broaden the scope a bit. Many people get fixated on the minutia of exercise and fitness training. I often hear things like “I want Michelle Obama arms” or “Carrie Underwood legs” or my favorite “I just want to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club.” To achieve these looks, one would have to pick their parents wisely. You can’t change your genes people! So lets take a look at what great things exercise can do for all of us.
Nearly half of the U.S. population is taking at least 1 prescribed drug each year. And unless they’re looking to kick that nasty breathing habit, most people should keep taking them. But wouldn’t it be nice to not be dependent on a pharmaceutical agent to stay healthy/alive? Well the good news is that the 3 most common medications are Analgesics (pain management), Antihyperlipidemic agents (cholesterol management), and Antidepressants. And guess what exercise is great at doing?
Pain In The…
Millions of people deal with chronic pain. From the ever common low back pain, to osteoarthritis (OA), to more severe symptoms of fibromyalgia. For most people, the only option given is to take a drug of some sort. However, research shows that people who exercise and stay flexible manage their pain much better than those who don’t. This is because it takes less pain to make you feel more uncomfortable for those who suffer from chronic pain. Luckily, exercise for cardiovascular endurance, strengthening, and flexibility, can help improve this pain threshold. So check out these links if you or a loved one suffers from lower back pain (yogayogadesk jobtipsexercises), OA (tipstips,exercises),  or fibromyalgia for helpful exercises and tips. 
LDL On The Down Low
 
Without getting too technical, exercise is excellent for raising the cardio-protective HDL’s in your blood. This “good” cholesterol is what you get from exercising at least 5 hours per week. Click here and here for more information. 
 
Exercising makes us Happy! So to smile more you should exercise more. Here’s a glimpse at how it works. Exercise = the brain recognizes this as stress. This causes the brain to think you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it (the good old fight of flight mechanism). As a result, our brain releases protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) and endorphins which together minimize the discomfort of exercise, block the feeling of pain, and create a feeling of euphoria.
Zombies Love A Fit Brain & More!
 
The brain not only reacts to exercise, but benefits from it too! So here is a list of other great benefits to the body and brain that are derived from exercise.
 – A decrease in Oxidative Stress which may damage DNA and essential lipids within the brain that triggers neuronal death if not controlled.
 – Decrease Inflammatory Agents accumulate in the brain which can destroy neurons and inhibit neurogenesis (the growth of new neurons) if left unchecked.
 – Balance Hormones like estrogen, testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) that collectively help preserve cognitive ability but decrease with aging.
 – Reduce the risk of Hypertension (chronically-elevated blood pressure).
 – Control or even reverse Diabetes and Insulin-Resistance which is an inability to utilize glucose that linked to lower levels of neuronal growth factors, decreased brain volume, and higher incidence of dementia.
 – Reduce Stress and Cortisol levels which can help with sleep and overall happiness.
 – Makes us more productive at work!
 – Improve Bone Density
Bottom Line
 
Just start exercising and you will feel great. Whether your a beginner in the gym, need to get your fitness in at work, or an experienced lifter, there’s always a way to make it work for you. And no matter what the level, your body and brain will be better for it 🙂