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Running is an exercise that you either enjoy or really hate. Those who enjoy it post about their sunrise views and race times and those who hate running are tired of seeing them. I am one of those people who enjoy running but only for a short period of time. The idea of keeping a steady pace for an extended period of time is as exciting to me as counting sheep. With that said, I’ve come to thoroughly enjoy Tread at FFC. Check out this efficient treadmill class for your next lunchtime workout!

What is Tread?

Tread is a 45-minute (or 30 minutes, if you’re doing the express version) running class that consists of sprints and hills. The drills are broken up with rest in between and each drill changes so you’re not doing the same run the whole time.

The point of the class is to build strength and cardiovascular endurance. The more efficiently your body delivers oxygen to its tissues, the lower your breathing rate is. What does that mean? The more you do the class, the easier it’ll become. Below is an example of Tread led by FFC’s regional group fitness director, Lois Miller at FFC Union Station.

Example Lunchtime Workout (or for any Tread class or time of day)

Warm-up:

  • 1 minute incline 1.0 intensity (speed) at 60%
  • 1 minute at 70%
  • 1 minute at 80%
  • Repeat the above at incline 2.0

Drill I:

  • Escalator – start at 70%
  • Increase the incline every 60 seconds; then ladder back down in descending order
  • Minute 1 (incline 2.0)
  • Minute 2 (incline 3.0)
  • Minute 3 (incline 4.0)
  • Minute 4 (incline 5.0)
  • Minute 5 (incline 4.0)
  • Minute 6 (incline 3.0)
  • Minute 7 (incline 2.0)

Rest – walk for 2 minutes

Related: want another quick lunchtime workout? Check out this 30-minute squat circuit!

Drill II:

  • Intervals – perform the following as fast as you can (AFSYC); incline stays at 1.0
  • 20 seconds on/10 rest x2
  • 30 seconds on/10 rest x2
  • 40 seconds on/10 rest x2
  • 50 seconds on/10 rest x2
  • 60 seconds on/10 rest x2

Rest – walk for 90 seconds

Drill III:

  • Side Shuffle at a fast walking pace
  • 30 seconds on each side at incline 1.0
  • Repeat at incline 5.0
  • Repeat at incline 10.0

Rest – walk for 60 seconds

Drill IV:

  • Hills – speed is at 60%; every 30 seconds the incline changes for 4 total rounds (no rest)
  • 30 seconds incline 1.0
  • 30 seconds incline 5.0
  • 30 seconds incline 10.0
  • Repeat total of 4 rounds

Rest – walk recovery / 60 seconds of tricep power pushups off the front of the treadmill

Stretch!

What can I expect from this lunchtime workout?

Just like any new workout or class you try, there are always a few items to keep in mind.

  • Do not participate in this workout if you have knee or hip pain. This is a high intensity class that requires a ton of stop and go.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after
  • Recover with potassium. I’m a fan of avocado in my morning smoothie because it has less sugar than bananas (your muscles will thank you by not cramping!).
  • Watch your step. You don’t want to be that person who slips on treadmill (this is my biggest fear).
  • Wear some form of tracker. The class is not measured by distance, since it’s an interval class and drills change every time (MYZONE is my preference – you can read more on my experience here).
  • Stretch before and after! There’s nothing worse than a calf cramping up during a class or an injury taking you out of commission.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking to get faster, run longer or just exercise in general, give Tread a shot. Your percentage to max is based on your athletic abilities. What may be fast for others may not be to you. Check out FFC’s schedule here for dates and times.

Post written by FFC Union Station member Omar R.

Want to follow along with Omar’s workouts? Follow him on Facebook and Instagram!

About 8 years ago I made a change to how I approached my training. Well, to be precise, I actually started training and stopped “working out”. It all started with a fitness plan.

It’s made a huge difference in how I get results, my overall health and resilience, and my understanding of how my body reacts to stressors. My results in the gym skyrocketed and it all started with a process that occurs outside of the gym; I started following a program that a coach would write for me.

My mentor once described a good program as a “helicopter view” of the trainee’s current position and where they want to be. A good fitness plan allows us to see the whole picture and how we will get from point A to point B.

“Making it up as you go” or not having a plan at all provides us with what he calls a “car view”; it doesn’t allow us to see the whole picture and leaves a lot to the imagination. How often do you get in a car in unknown territory and leave the navigation up to your imagination? You don’t, right? Because that’s a huge waste of time! Why would you do that in the gym?

“My mentor once described a good program as a “helicopter view” of the trainee’s current position and where they want to be. A good fitness plan allows us to see the whole picture and how we will get from point A to point B.”

If you are just starting out, working with a program can be intimidating. Even a simple program can look very complex on paper and seem hard to read – which is why I’m going to break down FFC’s brand new Workout of the Month program and make sure you feel confident from the start. The first step? Grab your worksheet below!

The Workout of the Month Fitness Plan Breakdown

Each Workout of the Month will come in a 4-week block.

  • Week 1 – exploratory week
  • Week 2 – intensity increase
  • Week 3 – higher weights, lower volume
  • Week 4 – the home stretch = higher weight, higher volume
Week 1 – Exploratory Week

This is a time to get comfortable with the exercises and figure out what weights you will use with the exercises that will result in the prescribed RPE (rating of perceived exertion). RPEs will range from 6-8 depending on what kind of work you are doing. Here is a chart to help you figure out your RPE:

Why work to an RPE instead of using percentages? The short answer is flexibility and health.

Not flexibility in the sense of being able to do the splits, per say, but flexibility in the sense of being able to adjust your working weights to how you feel that particular day. If you got a lot of sleep and ate well before your workout, you may feel like a million bucks and be able to match the RPE with a heavier weight than normal. Great!

Some days, you may be tired from a long work day or not sleeping well or whatever life is throwing at you and a lighter weight than normal gets you to the prescribed RPE. That’s cool too! We’re all about getting work done and keeping it safe, relative to our current readiness. Winning!

Week 2 – Intensity Increase

Now that you have your weights dialed in, you can get after it a little bit during week 2. You will usually see increased intensity during this week due to what you figured out during week 1’s exploration.

Week 3 – Higher Weights, Lower Volume

During week 3, you will see a lower volume in your strength work – but that doesn’t mean you’re doing less – you will be adding weight to make up for the decreased volume. This week is known as the “PR and go home week” — get to the gym, work a little bit harder than you have been, and go home feeling satisfied. Hooray!

Week 4 – Higher Weight, Higher Volume

Week 4 is a tough one. This is the pinnacle of your training block that will bring increased volume as well as increased weight. However, as long as you are within the prescribed RPE, you are safe and sound.

Here’s the thing… if you stick to the program, you will see that you are able to work with heavier weights but remain at the same RPE. That’s pretty cool, right?! You’re getting stronger!!

How to Read the Workout of the Month Worksheet

You’ll notice that the exercises in this program are sectioned off by letter (A, B, C, D). Those letters indicate that those exercises in that letter group are to be performed in succession. For instance, in the A section of the Monday workout you will perform 5 Overhead Med Ball Slams, 10 total (5 on each side) Deadbugs and 10 total (5 on each side) Banded Leg Drops.

You will then repeat that circuit 2 more times in that order. Then you will move on to section B and perform those exercises in succession for the prescribed sets and reps. Easy peasy!

If you are new to the gym and training in general, ease into it. Any program is to be viewed as more of a suggestion than a rule. For example, you could start with just 1 resistance day and 1 metabolic day for the first week. Or maybe a 2 resistance to 1 metabolic ratio is more your speed. Or, for you gym veterans, you could perform all 6 days.

Do whatever makes you feel good! The goal is to feel and move better while getting stronger and more resilient. We don’t need to beat ourselves up – we just need a plan and an honest assessment of our current capabilities.

Also – make sure that you are using the key provided to pick an exercise that is right for you. You should be able to perform the exercise you choose confidently and within the RPE for the prescribed set and rep range. If you need help choosing your exercises, please ask a trainer for help.

What Can You Expect?

Now that you have your weeks laid out and now how to work with the program, let’s talk about some intricacies. Writing a fitness plan for thousands of people is daunting. How do we fit it all appropriately for the individual’s skill sets and goals?

Well, it’s pretty simple if you let it be. This program will be designed for targeting general fitness. It will help you get stronger, lose some body fat, become more resilient, and improve your cardiovascular health. Yes, it really can do all of that!

Skill levels will be addressed with exercise and RPE selections. Do what’s appropriate for you! More and more difficult is not better, what is appropriate to you and what you feel confident doing is better. Working outside of your skill set isn’t going to get you to your goals faster, it’s just going to increase the risk of injury and most likely burn you out more quickly. We’re in this for the long game here. Consistency trumps intensity!

Taking It a Step Further

If you are curious to learn more about the exercises in this program or want to gain a better understanding of it, feel free to strike up a conversation with one of FFC’s trainers. We want you to succeed and get the most out of this offering! Professional guidance is never a bad idea when you are working toward a healthier you.

We hope that this helps get you started on your journey. Questions will come up and that’s ok, just contact a trainer at your club and they will be happy to help you at any point. We are very excited about this opportunity to expand our service to you and the quality and value it will add to your fitness journey!

Post written by FFC Oak Park Fitness Director Mike Connelly.

Check out the move of the month – the kettlebell swing!

Pressed for time? Many of us struggle to fit exercise into our already busy days. Additionally, many of us think that a workout needs to be be at least 45 minutes to count. Throw that thought out the window and get your fitness in 30 minutes or less while competing against the clock! (Compound body moves, like these, also help to make your workout more efficient). Try this quick lower body workout to work your legs to the max – minimal equipment needed!

Equipment needed: Medium weight dumbbells, a mat and a body bar (for balance).

Set up your equipment and start your clock. See how many times you can get through your circuit, and challenge yourself to improve your total rounds performed on the next attempt. (And be sure that form is always your top priority)!

Warm Up

Warm up with one round of the following (30 seconds each):

  • Jogging in place
  • Alternating body weight lunges
  • Jumping jacks
  • Body weight squats

Lower Body Workout Challenge

Choose five of the following moves to rotate as many times as you can in 25 minutes.

Weighted Walking Lunges (10 reps per leg)

Walking lunge lower body workout

Walk through the lunge instead of stepping your feet back together. Make it more difficult with a dumbbell in each hand. (Perform a basic lunge if space is an issue).

Dumbbell Deadlifts (15 reps)

Dumbbell deadlift lower body workout

Start standing straight, then bend, keeping your shins vertical and your back straight, hinging just at the hips. Return to standing for one rep.

Jumping Lunges (30 seconds)

Jumping lunge lower body workout

Start in a lunge, then swing your arms to help propel yourself off the ground as you switch legs midair, landing on the opposite leg.

Ice Skaters (30 seconds)

Ice skater 1 lower body workout  Ice skater 2 lower body workout  Ice skater 3 lower body workout

Leap to your right and tap your left foot behind you, then leap to the left. For added difficulty during this lower body workout, tap your hand to the ground or keep your back leg elevated for a count before leaping to the other side.

Related: try this workout, then

Lateral Squats (10 reps per leg)

Lateral squats lower body workout

Perform a squat, step your left leg in so your feet are together, then step your right leg out to perform another squat. Repeat side to side. Make it more difficult by holding a weight in front of you.

 

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Single-leg Romanian Deadlifts with Knee Raise (15 reps)

Romanian deadlift 3  Romainian deadlift 2 lower body workout

Romanian deadlift 1 lower body workout  Romanian deadlift 4 lower body workout

Hinge at your hips, keeping your body in as straight a line as you can (grab a body bar if you need help balancing).

Jumping Squats (30 seconds)

Jumping squats lower body workout

Perform a squat, then leap straight into the air, landing softly back into a squat.

Lunge Hops (30 seconds)

Lunge hops lower body workout

Perform a lunge, then leap straight into the air without switching legs, landing softly back into your lunge. Switch legs after 15 seconds.

Cool Down

Cool down with one round of the following:

Standing Quad Stretches (30 seconds per leg)

Standing quad stretch lower body workout

Grab your body bar or the wall for balance, gently pull your knee into your backside until you feel a stretch in the front part of your leg.

Low Lunges (30 seconds per leg)

Low lunges lower body workout

You can use your dumbbells if you can’t reach the ground.

Downward Facing Dog (30 seconds)

Downward dog lower body workout

Try to keep your back and legs straight as you lean your chest down for this hamstring and shoulder stretch.

Post written by an FFC contributor.

 

Whether you’re taking one last seasonal trip, planning for holiday travel or jet setting for business reasons, traveling provides excitement and a new perspective. However, all that time spent getting to and from the airport, exploring new destinations and keeping up with packed meeting itineraries and happy hours doesn’t leave much time for fitness. Since many aspects of travel can be stress-inducing, it is important to fit physical activity in where you can to stay healthy and sane. Check out FFC Gold Coast personal trainer Jessica King’s 3 options that utilize a resistance band and/or bodyweight moves for a quick travel workout you can do at the airport, in your hotel room or just about anywhere!

Workout #1

  • Side raise plank left x10
  • Side raise plank right x10

Travel workout with resistance band

  • Upright row x 12

  • Bow and arrow left x 12
  • Bow and arrow right x 12

  • Tricep pulldown left x 12
  • Tricep pulldown right x 12

  • Lat pulldown left x 12
  • Lat pulldown right x 12

 

 

 

 

  • Monster Walk (walk one direction for 12 steps, come back the other way for 12 steps).

Repeat this succession 3 times.

Related: want to try out a free session (when you’re back in town) with a personal trainer at FFC? Click here!

Workout #2

  • Lunges left x 10
  • Lunges right x 10

  • Squat to press x 10

  • Alternating biceps curl with band x 15
  • Bent over row with band x 12

  • 10 tricep dips (on a chair, bench or bed)
  • 45-second plank
  • 30 bicycle crunches

Repeat this succession 4 times.

Related: along with trying to work out while traveling, eating healthy on the go can be extra tricky. Check out this recent post for some awesome tips!

Workout #3

  • Front raise left x 10
  • Front raise right x 10

  • Seated row x 12

  • Push up with band x 10

  • 40 mountain climbers
  • 30-second wall sit
  • 10 burpees

Repeat this succession 4 times.

What are some of your favorite workout moves to do on the go? Let us know in the comments!

Post written by FFC Gold Coast Personal Trainer Jessica King.

About Jessica

FFC Gold Coast personal trainer Jessica KingJessica King is a certified personal trainer at FFC Gold Coast. Her passion is exercising and helping others achieve their goals. She helps clients by changing their lives in a positive way through fitness. She challenges and teaches clients the numerous benefits of exercise and why it should be considered a lifestyle choice and not a chore. Ready to make that one-hour workout the highlight of your day? Schedule a complimentary consultation with Jessica by emailing her at jessica.king@ffc.com!

* Above images courtesy of Google and other various sources: http://www.leanitup.com/37-killer-resistance-band-exercises-burn-muscles-anywhere/2/; http://www.leanitup.com/37-killer-resistance-band-exercises-burn-muscles-anywhere/4/; https://www.mobilityguardian.com/resistance-band-chest-exercises/.

My name is Sam Gonzalez and I am an Elite Trainer with FFC. After 8 years of experience and hundreds of clients and students, I understand the challenges that most people face when they decide to start a new training program. For most, the question of how to train and the techniques involved is the biggest question. Some want to lose body fat. Others want to become strong, add muscle and move without pain. Throughout my time training I have discovered a tool that accomplishes all these goals… the kettlebell. Read on to find out why this is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment out there, plus discover a kettlebell workout you can do on your own!

Anyone can do kettlebell workouts regardless of ability or age. Here’s why:

Kettlebells deliver effective and efficient all-around fitness like no other tool. Although the kettlebell has been around for hundreds of years it has only recently become popular in the US, as an era of fitness machines, poor techniques and injuries have failed to deliver results.

We have become more sedentary, undernourished and overfed. Something must be done before we regress and get even more unhealthy. That change can be as simple as a return to basic physical fitness that is based on natural movement and strength training.

Basic physical fitness can be described as your ability to move in a coordinated, unrestricted way, while being able to complete the demands of everyday life. I assume that you joined a gym or fitness program for this particular reason. You want your time at the gym to result in having a better life outside of it.

Whether it’s getting up and down off the floor, carrying groceries from the car or playing with your kids, we should be able to do these types of natural movements without restriction and especially without pain. (Moms, check out more on functional movement in this recent post!). Kettlebell training can help you achieve all these goals. But despite how easy they are to use, kettlebells are not just resigned for newcomers looking for an effective training technique. Even the most advanced gym member can be humbled by difficulty and skill it takes to perform some of these exercises.

Related: try out a personal training session at FFC on us – click here!

Why Kettlebells Work So Well

The magic of training with kettlebells comes from their ability to create movement patterns that the body craves while vastly enhancing strength, athletic capabilities and physique. While general exercise can be considered a good thing, the idea of working out just for the sake of working out is a road that leads nowhere. Our exercise must be planned and productive.

Think of your exercise as a practice of a collection of movement skills that you are striving to master. Every time we practice/ train we should strive to make progress. Progress can be defined as an increase in the level of exercise sophistication, more resistance, the ability to work at higher speeds and many other variables. Kettlebells are maximally efficient at streamlining peoples’ progress. Kettlebell training can change someone’s life by literally forging the body into a leaner and stronger version of itself.

Still not convinced? Here’s a quick breakdown of all the benefits you can expect from kettlebell training:

  • Act as a new, fun and challenging way of training
  • Replace machines, barbells, dumbbells and cardio equipment
  • Make your workouts fast and efficient focusing on total body movement patterns vs small muscles
  • Burn 600 – 700 calories per session while getting rid of hard-to-lose body fat
  • Help you perform everyday tasks with ease like carrying groceries and getting up off the floor
  • Add natural amounts of muscle to your frame while not becoming bulky
  • Increase your mobility, flexibility and overall functional capacity
  • Dramatically increase your body’s strength
  • Help you become more athletic in any sport or activity

With proper training and nutrition, you can have incredible health, strength and flexibility, all while achieving a look and feel that is your best version of yourself. As an elite trainer, my goal is to deliver these qualities with the methods I have learned and refined using kettlebell training. You as a student, will not only learn learn these methods as well but also understand why they work.

Related: small group HIIT training can give you a great guided workout – plus it will help you lose weight effectively!

As with any skill, it is absolutely imperative to build a solid foundation. Unfortunately, in today’s current gym and personal training environment, there is often no assessment or preparation before we begin to “work out”. At best this leads to mediocre results, and at worst, injury. A program that is scientifically designed and progressed must be given to ensure that a person’s goals are being met while keeping them safe.

“At the time my exercise regiment was restricted because of pain up and down my left leg from misalignment and sedentary work. I’d tried muscle activation technique and physical therapy over the years but have by far had the most success with the mobility drills and proper kettlebell technique Sam taught me. Today I’m able to be consistent because of the efficiency of the workouts Sam has prescribed and am getting better results (i.e. pain management, strengthening, weight maintenance) from a couple strength workouts a week than I ever had from attending a few strength classes (usually incorporating dumbbell and bodyweight sets) a week. I’m also someone who would avoid cardio if I could so I love that kettlebells and cardio are a packaged deal.” -Erin D., FFC West Loop Member

Although sometimes intimidating, kettlebell skills can be regressed or progressed to meet the member’s specific capabilities. I recommend finding an educated and certified coach to help progress you through the variety of skills so that you can start your fitness journey with kettlebell training.

Try Kettlebells for Yourself

It is often said that the kettlebell swing is the “center of the kettlebell universe” – which is somewhat true. Along with kettlebell get ups, they build a very solid base of mobility, strength and conditioning. These skills activate the entire body and will expose your weaknesses. All other skills in kettlebell training begin with these two, so you should master them before you try others. Remember, the idea is to keep technique paramount, not just rush through it. Quality, not speed!

Check out this basic yet challenging and effective workout for yourself! Have questions about form? Email Sam at sgonzalez@ff.com or follow him on Instagram!

30-Minute Kettlebell Workout

  • Kettlebell Swings (10 sets of 10 reps)
    • Men- 20k/24k
    • Women 12k/16k
  • Get Ups (5 right side, 5 left side)
    • Men 20k/24k
    • Women 12k/16k

Try to get all this work done in under 30 minutes.

Post written by FFC Park Ridge Personal Trainer Sam Gonzalez.

Sam Gonzalez FFC Park Ridge

 

About Sam

Sam Gonzalez is an FFC Elite Level trainer. He is a StrongFirst Level 2 instructor, TACFIT and Circular Strength Training field instructor and correctional exercise specialist.

He has used kettlebell and bodyweight training to help people reach their fitness goals for the last 8 years. Have questions or want to set up a complimentary consultation? Email Sam at sgonzalez@ffc.com!

The push-up is commonly associated with military conditioning, gym class, and some martial arts. For many, they can be unexciting, feel impossible or even gruesome. Hopefully, though, after reading this you will incorporate this versatile and efficient exercise into your workout routine!

Push-ups are categorized as a calisthenic exercise performed prone (face down), during which the body is raised and lowered with the arms. Push-ups use many muscles, making it a great exercise to do regularly. Push-ups use your pectoral muscles, triceps, and other muscles of the shoulder area such as anterior deltoids, serrates anterior, and coracobrachialis. Push-ups also use core muscles, such as your transverses abdominis and rectus abdominis, and help with core stability. (Need something for the lower body? We’ve got you covered here.)

There are many varieties of push-ups – some are better for beginners, and some for more advanced levels. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 types and their benefits so you can find the ones that work best for you!

Standard push-up 1

Standard push-up 2

Standard Push-Ups

Get into plank position with your hands under your shoulders, engage your core and keep your chest lifted and eyes gazing out in front of you so that your spine stays in a neutral position.

Bend your elbows and lower your body to the floor with your inhale, then push up with control and exhale as you rise back to a neutral position. Don’t let your backside dip or stick up, your body should remain in a straight line from head to toe.

Draw your shoulder blades back and down, keeping elbows tucked close to your body. It’s important to practice good form consistently to avoid injury and yield greater results.

Modified push-up 2Modified push-up 1

 

 

Modified Push-Ups

These pushups are great for beginners; they are performed by supporting the lower body on the knees instead of the toes.

 

 

Wide push-up 1Wide push-up 2

 

 

The Wide Push-Up

Start from a normal push-up position but spread your hands wider than shoulder length. This will force your chest to do most of the work.

 

 

Narrow push-up 2

Narrow push-up 1

 

 

The Narrow Push-Up

From a normal push-up position, place your hands just a few inches apart from each other underneath your chest.

 

 

Diamond push-upDiamond push-up 1

 

 

The Diamond Push-Up

For these push-ups, place both palms on the ground so that both thumbs and pointer fingers are touching and form a diamond. These push-ups really work your triceps!

 

One Leg Push-up 2One leg push-up 1

 

 

The One-Leg Push-Up

From the standard push-up position lift one leg up off the ground and do a set, switch legs to complete the set. Be sure to engage your core to help you stay in position!

 

One arm push-up 1One arm push-up 2

 

 

The One-Arm Push-Up

Get into position and bring one arm behind your back or to your side and complete the movement, switch arms and complete the set. These are a great challenge!

 

 

Elevated push-up 2

Elevated push-up 1

 

 

The Feet Elevated Push-Up

Do a normal push-up, but with your feet elevated on a box or bench. The higher the platform, the more you’ll work your shoulders, chest, and core. For more challenge, use an exercise ball.

 

Body elevated push-up 1

 

 

The Body-Elevated Push-Up

Performed with hands on an elevated platform, commonly seen with medicine balls. For an even more advanced exercise, you can also elevate the feet.

 

Wall push-up 2Wall push-up 1

 

The Wall Push-Up

Another great variation of a push-up for someone new to exercise or lacking the upper body strength for a standard push-up. These are performed by standing close to a wall and then pushing away from the wall. Increase the difficulty by moving your feet farther from the wall.

 

Fun Facts About Push-Ups:

  • In most forms of push-ups, you are lifting 65% of your body weight
  • The record for the most consecutive push-ups is 10,507 by Minoru Yoshida of Japan in 1980.
  • Push-ups dates back to 1905
  • The record for the most push-ups done in 24 hours (non-consecutively) is 46,001 by Charles Servizio of the USA in 1993.
  • The Fence Lizard demonstrates push-ups to attract its reptilian mates

Photo demonstrations are courtesy of Jose Rodriguez. For more push-up ideas or to schedule a one-on-one personal training session with Jessica, email her at jfrank@ffc.com. To schedule a consultation with Jose Rodriguez (pictured), email him at jrodriguez@ffc.com!

Post written by FFC West Loop Personal Trainer Jessica Frank.

 

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Perhaps you’ve seen some members at the gym rolling around on long black cylinders and wondered what they were doing. Or you have been foam rolling for a while now and wonder if you are doing it right or what the science is behind it all. I’m here to answer those questions, plus give you a few tips on how to work specific areas of your body for the most benefit!

The Science Behind Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is a form of Self-Myofascial Release (SMR), a type of stretching that uses autogenic inhibition. Our skeletal muscle contains muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs (GTO) – when these receptors are stimulated by a change in tension, it causes the muscle to relax.

Basically, when you hit a trigger point with the roller, the GTO will turn off the muscle spindle, which allows the muscle fibers to relax – thus easing muscle tension and aiding in muscle recovery.

The chain of events is kind of like our bodies’ natural reaction to pull our hand away quickly when touching a hot pan. It is one of the body’s many safety mechanisms, and it protects us from muscle tears resulting from muscle tension. The muscles can’t release what they don’t know is there, and making our muscles aware through foam rolling is the key to unlocking this tension!

The Benefits of Foam Rolling

Working with a foam roller is great for releasing muscle tension and pain, and increasing range of motion. Foam rolling will improve your joint control and mechanics, which will give you a better workout and greater result with less chance of injury.

Whether training for your first marathon or just regular every day wear and tear, muscles get tight. When a muscle is tight, it can pull on your joints – and tight muscles cause other muscles to work harder or sometimes turn off completely. It is important to keep your muscles in balance and free from excess tension, or you can end up with joint pain or injury.

Foam rolling is extremely efficient and safe, in comparison to many standard stretches. Foam rolling is safe anytime: before, during, or after a workout. Foam rolling is effective for many areas of your body. Read on for basics on how to foam roll and tips for specific areas of the body.

How To Foam Roll

  1. Place foam roll under target area.
  2. Engage core and glutes to create a strong base.
  3. Roll 1 inch per second for about 60 seconds on each area, hold tender areas for 30 – 60 seconds.

Important safety tip: do not roll over joints or bones and do not roll your lower back!

Choosing a Foam Roller

Foam Rollers can be short (12 inches) or long (36 inches.) They are typically 6 inches in diameter. A number of different densities exist, so choosing one that is right for you is important.

A softer roller is best for someone new to foam rolling. Some foam rollers have bumps, waves, or grooves for a more intense experience. At FFC, we have long black rollers that are of a higher density, (which, if you are new to foam rolling, you might find it difficult or painful at first.) To alleviate discomfort, you can reduce the amount of weight on the roller by shifting your body or supporting yourself with a leg or arm. As you continue rolling daily the discomfort will reduce. See the video for more on this.

Related: click here for a free 1-hour personal training session at FFC!

Calves- foam rolling

 

 

Calves (lower back of legs): put the roller under a calf. Rest your other foot on the floor. Roll from the ankle to below the knee. Rotate the leg in, then out. Stack ankles to add pressure. Roll both calves at once for less pressure.

 

IT band - foam rolling

 

 

Iliotibial Band (side of legs): lie on your side with the roller near your hip, rest your other leg’s foot on the floor. Roll down your outer thigh toward your knee. Increase pressure by stacking your legs.

 

Hamstrings - foam rolling

 

Hamstrings (upper back of legs): place the roller under your thighs. Roll from the knees to the buttocks. To increase the pressure, roll one leg at time, turning your leg in and out.

 

 

 

Adductors - foam rolling

 

 

Adductors (inside of thighs): lie on your stomach with one leg extended slightly to the side, knee bent. Place the roller in the groin area of the extended leg and roll the inner thigh.

 

 

Quads - foam rolling

 

Quadriceps (upper front of legs): lie on your stomach with a roller placed under the front of your thigh and slowly roll up and down from the bottom of your hip to the top of your knee.

 

 

Glutes - foam rolling

 

 

Glutes (your backside): sit on the roller and place one foot on the opposite knee. Lean into one buttock and roll forward and back, using your supporting leg to control the pressure.

 

Mid back - foam rolling

 

 

Mid Back: put the roller under your middle back and lie down. Support your head, and get long hair out of the way. Roll from bottom of your ribs to top of your shoulders. Rotate your torso to get into your lats.

 

 

 

For more information or to schedule a one-on-one foam rolling demonstration with Jessica, email her at jfrank@ffc.com. See more at the following YouTube video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=zIXFFPMM-Ac

Post written by FFC West Loop Personal Trainer Jessica Frank.

Resistance training is an essential part of any workout program, regardless of whether you want to lose, gain, or maintain weight. However, most people are either doing way more resistance training than they need, or are doing exercises that do not give them the maximum benefit for their time. Here’s a resistance training efficiency hack you should try.

Sure, a five-day weight lifting split to isolate each body part will help you build muscle, but for most people that is an unrealistic amount of time spent at the gym.

If you are doing 3 sets of 10 repetitions hitting each machine in the row, you will see some benefit in terms of strength and muscle size – but in most instances, you will be sacrificing mobility, stability, and core activation. (Speaking of core activation, check out this recent post on how yoga can help you see better results from lifting!) That’s where this hack comes in.

The Compound Set

We all live busy lives, so why not get into the gym, do a quick AND effective strength and muscle building workout, and get out as soon as possible? This is why compound sets are very valuable.

A compound set has multiple exercises engaging the same muscle group. The method I prefer uses three exercises with different repetition ranges to get the perfect balance between strength and definition.

Related: want to check out a club for yourself? Click here to try FFC free!

Example Chest Compound Set Workout

Your first exercise will be relatively heavy, and therefore be more beneficial for building strength.  The next two will be at a moderate and lighter weight for more repetitions to help develop muscle tone or size. Repeat these two exercise sets two or three times with a weight that is challenging for you, and you will get a comprehensive and exhausting routine for the body part of interest that takes about 10-15 minutes.

Add two more compound sets for back and shoulders, and you should be able to complete a full upper body routine in 45 minutes with time to spare if you want to give your arms some extra attention.

It should be noted that in order for this routine to be performed effectively and safely, you need to feel confident enough with the exercises to be able to use heavier weights for the 5 repetition set. But regardless of your goals, this style of weight training can be very beneficial, especially if you feel that your resistance training has become boring or stagnant. Introducing some unusual stress on your muscles and nervous system is essential for allowing you to continue to make progress.

Apply This To Other Areas Of Your Workout

This routine can also be used for legs, or even for biceps and triceps. Not only is this an extremely efficient way to exercise, but it’s also more fun than your typical 3 sets of 10. Even if you feel comfortable with your program, adding a compound set is an additional tool that will easily help maximize your success!

Post written by FFC West Loop Personal Trainer Paras Patel.

About Paras

Paras Patel specializes in core training, functional, stability and balance, trigger point and athletic training, as well as TRX/bodyweight training and flexibility as an ACE-certified trainer at the Fitness Formula Clubs West Loop location. Have questions or want to set up a free complimentary 60-minute session? Email him at ppatel@ffc.com!

At FFC, performance training refers to a type of workout that employs high intensity, heart monitor-based routines in a small group setting. By utilizing a heart rate monitor, our coaches are able to advise each participant when to rest and when to initiate a bout of work. Performance training classes allow for many participants of varying levels of fitness to receive the benefits of heart rate-based training because the work/rest intervals are targeted specifically to that individual based on their own body’s response. It also comes in handy when trying to lose weight.

Backed By Science

The benefits of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and metabolic conditioning are widely researched and proven to be a superior form of cardiovascular training.

When an individual is working at intensity that is 90% or above their max heart rate, they are in what is known as the anaerobic zone. During other kinds of cardio training (during an elliptical workout, for example), time will be spent in what is known as the aerobic zone, which over time can also create benefits, but they are shorter lived than those from working in the anaerobic zone.

These benefits often only come in the form of increased VO2max (the maximum amount of oxygen one can use during exercise) which translates to being better at performing that exercise (and being less tired) the more you do it.

This is a great benefit, but research has found that the only way to increase these benefits is to work out for longer periods of time. Which is something that can easily be done, but who has time to spend 90 minutes on an elliptical trainer?! Insert high intensity training.

Related: want to check out a free PTC class at FFC on us? Click here!

Why you should consider trying a HIIT workout.Why You Should Consider HIIT

HIIT and metabolic conditioning provide these benefits, plus others, in a fraction of the time. Training with bouts of work that elevate heart rate to 90% or higher of one’s max heart rate causes the body to be in an oxygen debt (i.e. breathing heavily).

Following these type of workouts, the body tries to restore itself to the physiological levels that it was before the exercise activity. This process, known as EPOC, causes a large calorie expenditure – thus leaving one with an elevated metabolic rate that they wouldn’t experience working at a lower intensity.

Working at this rate allows for one to maintain (and often build) lean muscle tissue which is not only important for numerous health benefits and metabolism, but also to achieving that toned, athletic appearance many are looking for. With performance training, the beauty is that it only takes 15-20 minutes of total work in this range to achieve these results!

What’s a PTC Class Like?

In our Performance Training Center classes, the exercises you perform will drive you body into this very specific and beneficial state because each workout is tailored to the individual based on their level of fitness and performance.

During class, the coach will take everyone through a dynamic warm-up that will improve mobility (something that we, as humans, sadly don’t get enough of in our daily lives.) This warm-up will act as a prep for the work to come – everything from explosive athletic drills to plyometrics, Olympic lifts and kettlebell workouts to suspension exercises, cardio challenges and more.

At the end of the 45-minute class, participants will receive feedback through their MyZone heart rate monitor telling them exactly how many calories were burned based on their age, weight, and intensity of work. This data can be used to set fitness goals (for more on how to set actionable fitness goals, check out this post!), tweak workouts and more.

If you want to reap the benefits of lean muscle gain, lose body fat and get in better cardiovascular shape by “working smarter, not harder”, try a Performance Training Center session!

Try a mini HIIT workout on your own!Try a Mini Workout On Your Own!

Perform the following exercises every minute on the minute for 12 minutes.

  • 10 Goblet Squats
  • 24K for men, 16K for women – adjust to your preference
  • 10 Push-ups
  • 10 Med Ball Slams
  • 20 lbs for men, 14 lbs for women – adjust to your preference

You should be able to get each exercise done 4 times. Good Luck!!

Post written by FFC Gold Coast Personal Trainer Adam Setterbo.

About Adam

Adam Setterbo is an Elite personal trainer and PTC coordinator at FFC Gold Coast. He specializes in weight loss, powerlifting, HIIT and lifestyle coaching. To contact Adam for more details or to set up a PTC consultation, email him at asetterbo@ffc.com!

To say Kristin Strom, regional Pilates manager at Fitness Formula Clubs, has a busy schedule would be an understatement. She has little time to sleep, let alone burn a ton of calories! In addition to managing the Pilates program and teaching classes, she also runs the brand new Classical Pilates Formula at FFC training apprenticeship program (included in the Pilates Method Alliance registry & one of very few of its kind in Illinois!)

Needless to say, she doesn’t have a lot of time to do her own workouts. Kristin shared how she balances work & family life and still finds time to stay fit with this quick 45-minute workout to burn a TON of calories & get bikini ready:

“With 3 kids and a very demanding full time job, I don’t have a ton of time to do my own workouts, but I know that it is important to take care of myself and put the time in to keep my body healthy so I can take care of my family.

When I workout consistently I feel better and I have more physical energy to keep going when life gets tough. Plus I have more creative energy to troubleshoot tough situations and come up with creative solutions to complex problems!”

Kristin’s 45-Minute Workout to Burn Calories

  • Run: 1 mile
  • Lift: 5 pull-ups, 20 push-ups, 15 walking lunges (3 rounds)
  • Run: 1 mile
  • Lift: 15 deadlift and rows, 15 triceps dips, 25 Spider-Man planks (3 rounds)
  • Run: 1 mile

“I like this mix of strength and cardio because it keeps me from getting bored on the treadmill – more than 1 mile at a time is SO boring! Plus, with 1-mile treadmill intervals, I can perform stronger for the shorter duration. Breaking up the strength segment keeps me focused. Jumping on the treadmill gives a very active recovery between supersets!”

Related: register now for a FREE 1-hour personal training session at FFC!

To learn more about workouts, or to set up a Pilates consultation, email Kristin at kstrom@ffc.com! Do you have a go-to 45-minute workout? Share it with us in the comments or tag it with #FFCChicago! Want another efficient, quick workout? Check out this lower body calorie burner!

Post written by FFC Regional Director of Pilates Kristin Strom.