Unlock ELITE Athletic Potential with Effect Performance Training

Your athleticism is the foundation of your sport specific skill. Without some level of athleticism, athletes are not able to effectively execute the skills that their sport demands. As competition increases, this becomes even more apparent. Look at the difference between a D1 basketball player and a D2 or D3 basketball player. Although there may be slight differences in skills, the biggest difference between the level of play is the athleticism and genetics of a D1 player compared to a D2 or D3 player. D1 players are typically taller, longer, and more athletic.

So, if we know athletes with superior genetics have the competitive advantage, how do we level the playing field? In full transparency there are multiple factors that contribute to athleticism. Genes are a huge factor in the way that your body stores and produces elastic energy which is responsible for your explosive power and strength. Other factors that contribute to your athleticism include movement efficiency, mobility, strength, and your central nervous system. Without getting too technical, there are factors that you can control that contribute to your overall athleticism, and there are factors that you cannot control, like genetics. The good news is, with proper training, you can maximize your personal capabilities with a sound comprehensive program.

Comprehensive and Progressive Programing

I see a lot of performance programs that are based on random high volume routines that make athletes tired and leave them feeling depleted each workout. Although this type of training may get an athlete in shape short term, eventually this approach will cause training plateaus, burnout, or even injury.

An effective sports performance program that is designed to maximize athleticism should be comprehensive and progressive with effective periodization. A comprehensive program is one that is detailed and touches on all aspects of athletic ability (mobility, stability, coordination, agility, speed, strength, power, cognitive ability, and restoration to prevent injury). Touching on all of these athletic qualities daily and or weekly will allow athletes to fill each bucket, which will then enhance overall athleticism that will transfer to sport activity.

The other important aspect of an effective performance training program is progression. It is easy to get caught up in short term gains but unless an athlete plans to retire or quit in the next 3 months, it is extremely important to think about the big picture. You have to know and understand what is the long term goal and work backwards from there. If a 15 year old athlete aspires to play college sports but just started taking training seriously and doesn’t have much training experience, he or she has to focus on building a foundation of core strength, coordination, and mobility. The adage  “you can’t build a house on toothpicks,” couldn’t be more true in this situation. Learning proper technique and improving movement efficiency early on, will go a long way and will increase the ceiling of an athletes athletic potential if they lay the foundation properly and early on in the training stage.

Once a foundation has been set, progressive overload is the key to long term sustained results. That means every 2-4 weeks there has to be an adjustment to the plan because our bodies are designed to adapt to stimulus. Once an adaptation occurs from completing a program consistently for 2- 4 weeks, the next phase of the program should increase volume (sets and reps), load (weight), or intensity (exercise selection or rest period). This same method should be followed with each new training phase in order to continue to progress toward maximizing athletic potential.

Best approach to training

  • Improve coordination and movement efficiency (“can’t build a house on toothpicks”)
  • Develop work capacity and endurance
  • General strength
  • Max strength
  • Sport specific speed and power development
  • Progressive overload

Have You Hit a Plateau in Your Fitness?

One thing we probably all have experienced before, no matter what our fitness goals are, is a plateau.  Plateau’s can happen for several different reasons, which is what we will go over. In addition, we will give you 5 ways you can get over plateaus!  

Why Do Plateaus Happen?

  1. Caloric Deficit – Now, you might say “I thought the rule was calories in vs. calories out” in a weight loss scenario.  And yes, this is true to a degree. However, if you are at too much of a calorie deficit your body is also not getting all the nutrients it needs.  And if this happens for too long, this is where a plateau will occur.
  2. Starvation Mode – When you are hungry, your body releases a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin is also the hormone in your body that promotes fat storage.  Whenever you have feelings of hunger during the day, your body is producing too much ghrelin. This in turn causes your metabolism to slow down and fat storage to go up.
  3. Tracking – If you are not tracking your food, you can expect to hit a plateau.  And if you do track your food, a lot of us don’t track properly or report all calories eaten.  

Here’s 5 ways to get past that stubborn plateau:

  1. Stop Starving Yourself – Work with a professional to figure out what a good calorie intake would be to reach your goals.  In addition, if you are starving yourself, you are less likely to stick with this type of diet and you will feel deprived constantly.  And this may cause you to get into the restrict – binge cycle a lot of us know so well.
  2. Track – When you have specific fitness goals, tracking is a huge way to reach these goals.  And ensure you are tracking properly by measuring your intake as well. There can be a huge difference between guessing and actually measuring:
  • For example: A medium apple (100g) = 52 calories and 14 carbohydrates.  A large apple (223g) = 116 calories and 31 carbohydrates. So, if you are not measuring that apple and tracking the calories for the exact size, you could potentially overeat quite easily.  
  • Some of our favorite Tracking Apps:
  1. My Fitness Pal –  
  2. My Plate Calorie Counter
  3. Lose It! Calorie Counter
  4. LifeSum: Diet and Macro Tracker

**Our suggestion is to work with a professional to figure out calories and macros (protein, carbs, fat daily count) that is for you and your goals.  A lot of times apps will restrict your calories too much and this will cause a plateau as mentioned above.

  1. Make it a Lifestyle – Finding a diet and exercise routine that fits best into your life is ultimately the one you will stick with. Stop restricting and binging.  Stop getting some results, stopping and then starting over. Making your health a priority and part of your everyday life is ultimately the best way to get results and maintain those results long term.
  2. Rest – If your goals are losing weight, it’s common that losing weight up front is easier than losing those last few pounds.  As we get leaner, our body holds onto certain weight a lot more because of survival purposes (and for women, perhaps child bearing purposes).  In this scenario, a lot of people think they need to restrict calories even more, which will in turn create a more negative outcome. Giving your body rest is important in this case.  Taking stress off the body will be huge in this scenario. Additionally, try increasing your calorie restriction 10% each week until you are only in a 500 calorie deficit. This will help jump start your weight loss once again!

Change it Up – Have you been doing the same classes each week?  Or the same program? Our bodies are made to adapt.  As workouts become less challenging, they also become less effective.  That does not mean you have to progressively make your workouts harder and harder.  But, you could simply change the types of exercises you’re doing. You could go heavy with strength training with fewer reps and then switch to lighter with more reps the next week.  For example, if you normally do push-ups maybe switch it up to a bench press this week. And if you are not sure where to start on switching things up, we have you covered! Our programming is specifically created with this in mind!  


Periodization: The Key to an Effective Workout Program

Periodization: The Key to an Effective Workout Program

Have you ever experienced stagnation or boredom with your workout routine? Have you hit a plateau where no matter what you do, you just feel like you’re not making progress? Have you experienced long term exhaustion physically, mentally, or even sickness? These are all symptoms of a manotineous workout program  that is not well planned or a program that you have stuck to for too long. With strategic periodization, you can avoid training plateaus and overtraining. Here’s how to break free and take your training and your results to the next level.

What is periodization?

Strength and conditioning programs cause an alarm phase that provokes our bodies to respond to external stimulus (strength training or cardiovascular training). Our bodies responds by adapting the stimulus so the next time it encounters the same stressor, we will be able to better deal with the stress. This is referred to as general adaptation syndrome (GAS). Homeostasis is our bodies baseline or equilibrium, so anytime we encounter a stress whether physical or psychological we experience a physiological adaptation. This is why it is important to constantly adjust variables of stress (workout routine) through periodization.

To promote long term training and performance improvements, a good training program should include preplanned, systematic variations in training specificity, intensity, volume, and load organized in periods or cycles within the overall program. This allows you to optimize adaptations made from training either from strength training or cardiovascular training.

Periodization for Strength

So, you have to disrupt homeostasis with a progressive overload to cause the body to adapt.  Here are three key training parameters that will drive gains in strength and muscle. 

  1. Mechanical tension: external forces put on the muscles by the weights, resulting in muscle contraction. Lifting a heavy load in big compound exercises (squats, chins, rows, bench presses etc.).
  2. Metabolic stress: the accumulation of metabolic byproducts, referred to as metabolites (e.g., lactate, hydrogen ions, and inorganic phosphate) during and following resistance exercise, which indirectly mediate cell and muscle swelling. Using higher rep sets with shorter rest periods and intensification techniques such as, drop sets, supersets, rest pause and occlusion training.
  3. Muscle damage: referring to micro tears accrued from deliberately lifting weights, usually accompanied by DOMS. Exercises which place a big stretch on the muscle like Romanian Deadlifts, are great at achieving this. Eccentric overload training is also excellent. So, using a weight heavier than you can lift and just doing the lowering phase (you will need a spotter for this). 

Periodization for Cardio

You should also periodize your cardiovascular training for the same reasons—to further challenge your body while still allowing for adequate recovery time.

If, for example, you’re a recreational runner, running for fitness, fun and the occasional short race, you’ll want to allow for flat, easy runs, as well as some that incorporate hills and others that focus on speed and strength.

What you don’t want to do is complete the same run every time. If you run too easily, and don’t push yourself, you won’t progress. And chances are you’ll get bored. Conversely, too much speed or high-intensity training will lead to injury or burnout, and most likely, disappointing race results.

Training Variables to Consider

Here are 5 key variables to consider that will impact your workouts. Now that you know the importance of altering your training program, here is how periodization manipulates these variables. A change in your program doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change all of the exercises, sets, reps, and weight periodically. In some instances, that may be the case, but a change in your program can be as subtle as increasing or decreasing the volume. Or maybe you increase the weight in your strength training routine. Maybe, you increase the weight and decrease the volume respectively. There are many ways that you can alter a program, the most important thing is that your program is adjusted periodically with the end goal in mind so that you get results.

Here are 5 key training variables:

Volume: The number of repetitions per set, or the number of sets of each exercise 

Load: The amount of resistance used and cumulative effective of stress from your workout physically and psychologically.

Frequency:  How many days a week you train a muscle group, movement pattern, or energy system.

Intensity: Rest period between sets or bouts,  exercise type, order of the exercises, types of exercises, weight used for the exercise, and speed at which you complete each exercise.

Specificity: exercise selection that is specific or non specific to your goals

How Frequently should you switch up workouts?

Macrocycle: Traditional periodization models divide the overall program into specific time periods. The largest division is a macrocycle, typically (6-12 months)

Mesocycle: Within macrocycle are two or more mesocycles, each lasting several weeks to several months. The number depends on goal and peak time periods. (2 weeks – 6 months)

Microcycle: Each mesocycle is divided into two or more microcycles that are typically one week long but could last for up to four weeks, depending on the program. This short cycle focuses on daily and weekly training variations. (1-4 weeks)

With this in mind. It is recommended that you adjust your training program at least every 4 weeks to avoid plateaus and negative effects of overtraining.

Types of Periodization

Here are 3 types of periodization methods.

Linear: Most frequently used. Best for beginners. training plan that gradually increases volume, intensity, and work by mesocycles in an annual plan. Progressive overload is a major key to success here.

Non-Liner/Undulated: Relies on constant change in stimuli throughout training cycles. As opposed to a linear periodization that focuses on gradual increase of one variable, this style manipulates multiple variables like exercises, volume, intensity, and training adaptation on a frequent basis. The time frame for these manipulations can be daily, weekly, or even bi-weekly. Non-linear periodization is more advanced than linear and incorporates multiple types of stimuli into a training program.

Block Periodization: Block periodization is arguably the “newest” periodization style. The concept of block periodization focuses on breaking down specific training periods into 2-4 week periods. Each block encompasses three different stages: accumulation (50-75% intensity), transmutation (75-90% intensity), and realization (90%> intensity). The goal behind these smaller, specific blocks is to allow an athlete to stay at their peak level longer.

Periodized training will ensure that you continue to make measurable progress, which will keep you energized and interested in reaching your goals

As you incorporate periodization into your fitness program, keep in mind your body will need adequate rest as well. It’s important to track your workouts and record sets, reps along with the amount of resistance you used. This long-term plan will allow you to stay focused on different goals throughout the year and will support continued and measurable progress.

 


What’s Better, High Intensity or Low Intensity Training?

What’s Better, High Intensity or Low Intensity Training?

What type of exercise is better for your body—high intensity or low intensity training? The answer is not that simple. It comes down to individual goals and how your body responds to exercise on a given day. Is your goal to decrease your body fat percentage, increase your VO2 max, recover faster, or have more power for anaerobic work? Different energy systems are used when performing high and low intensity workouts as well as a different ratio of carbs vs. fats burned within the body.

Low intensity exercise is aerobic work where your heart rate stays within 60-80% of your max heart rate. Working on your endurance boosts your heart’s left ventricle that pushes blood out to the rest of the body to increase in capacity. That means that more oxygen gets delivered to nourish crucial tissues and organs which support better overall health. Not only does more oxygen reach crucial parts of the body, but your circulatory system gets better at transferring it from blood to tissue. That’s because low intensity exercise increases capillary density, so more channels are on hand to deliver oxygen to the tissue’s cells. This in turn increases base oxygen intake leading to enhanced endurance.

High intensity exercise, often referred to as HIIT (high intensity interval training) or SIT (sprint interval training), burns more calories in a shorter period of time compared to the time put in for low intensity training. However, high intensity exercise escalates your resting metabolism so you burn more calories post exercise. The high intensity nature provides improved athletic capacity and condition as well as improved glucose metabolism. High intensity may not be as effective for treating hyperlipidemia and obesity, but has been shown to build more lean body mass and increase recovery time which is more applicable to sports performance athletes.

You get more bang for the buck when muscles burn fat because fat has more than twice the number of calories (nine calories vs. four calories per gram from carbs). Fat is the high-test fuel. Less oxygen reaches the muscle when you exercise hard, or fast, and get out of breath. The term “sucking wind” means that you are working hard to get more oxygen in. When less oxygen reaches the muscles, known as oxygen debt, carbohydrates become the preferred fuel because they burn completely with less oxygen.

With the information above, can we now narrow down what type of exercise is right for you? The simple answer is to combine both high and low intensity exercise into your routine. Where it gets confusing is when we ask ourselves, “what ratio of each should I do? 50/50?”. This is where it becomes individualized. The most popular ratio, and what I use for metabolic workouts, is based on Olympic programming. This breaks down low, moderate, and high intensity workouts into a ratio of 80% low, 12% moderate, and 8% high intensity throughout the week. After looking at these numbers, doesn’t the ratio of high intensity workouts seem very low?

The reason is that low intensity exercise promotes longevity and muscle recovery when done correctly. An overdose of high intensity exercise has its downsides. Although it is a great way to increase resting metabolism, crush carb stores in the body, and increase VO2 max, it is a sympathetic stressor and can lead to adrenal fatigue. In large doses, high intensity puts an incredible strain on your nervous system, joints and muscles; especially if you are overweight and unfit. It also puts you at a high risk of overtraining, which is a real danger as it can ruin your immune system, cause insomnia, affect your appetite, and release cortisol, which in turn can make you more likely to put on fat.

I would love to see more individuals build an excellent oxidative system base through low intensity exercise while slowly adding in high intensity training one day per week so their bodies can adapt appropriately. Work your way up to the 80%, 12%, and 8% and then get creative with your workouts. So long as you’re in the correct energy system, you may do CrossFit, Tabata, 5K’s, marathons, sprints, lifting—take your pick!


10 Minute Bodyweight Core Circuit

10 Minute Bodyweight Core Circuit

A strong core enhances balance, stability, and energy transfer. Thus, it can help prevent injuries during day-to-day activities and sports injuries. Core strength directly correlates to exercise and sport activities like walking, jogging, sprinting, throwing, squatting, jumping, and swinging motions. The stronger your core is, the more efficient you will be at these activities. Through strengthening your core, you will see an increase in your fitness, performance, as well as minimize your risk for injuries.

When doing a core routine you want to incorporate exercises that target all of the muscles in your core musculature (see table below).

Core Muscle Groups

Pelvic floor muscles

Tansversus abdominis

Multifidus

Internal and external obliques

Rectus abdominis

Erector spinae (sacrospinalis)

Erector spinae (sacrospinalis)

Longissimus thoracis

Diaphragm

Latissimus dorsi

Gluteus maximus

Trapezius

Gluteus medius

Psoas major

Serratus anterior

Try this 10 minute bodyweight core circuit at home or at the gym

Perform 1 round of each exercise for 1 minute before moving onto the next. Take minimal rest between exercises. Complete

Plank  – 1 minute

Side Plank – 30 seconds each side

Dead Bug – 1 minute

Glute Bridge– 1 minute

Bird Dog– 1 minute

Half Kneeling Wood Chop – 30 seconds each side

Alternating Leg Lowers – 1 minute

Penguin – 1 minute

Russian Twist– 1 minute

Clams – 30 seconds each side


Advance Your Core Training with The Sling System

Advance Your Core Training
with The Sling System

The core is the foundation of your body. It links everything together and provides stability for athletic skills. So simply doing a few Sit-Ups or even Planks won’t cut it when developing an athletic core. The key is developing what is called the sling system. The sling is a group of contralateral (opposite) muscle groups that work in a diagonal fashion and that lie on the anterior (front) and posterior (back) portion of the trunk. The sling can be broken down into the posterior and anterior oblique slings. The primary function of the sling is to stabilize the pelvis and spine during movement, which enhances performance in all sports from track and field, football, baseball, golf and volleyball.

Anterior Oblique System

The anterior oblique sling system includes the external and internal oblique, opposing leg adductors complex, and hip external rotators. The oblique plays a key role in mobilizing and stabilizing gait. It functions by pulling the leg through during the swing phase. Athletic movements involve many moving parts. The anterior sling system helps stabilize the pelvis and spine during acceleration, deceleration and multi-directional movements. The anterior oblique system contributes to rotational forces and hip flexion and stabilizes the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex.

Here’s how to train it:

Posterior Oblique System

This system includes the gluteus maximus, latissimus dorsi and thoracolumbar fascia. The glute max and lat attach to the thoracolumbar fascia, which connects to the sacrum. Their fibers run perpendicular to the hip joint so when the opposite glute max and lat contract, the tension built up stabilizes that hip joint, enhancing energy transfer.

The posterior oblique subsystem contributes to propulsion when we walk, run or sprint. It is also a key contributor to rotational forces such as swinging a golf club or baseball bat, or throwing a ball. If there is any dysfunction in the posterior oblique subsystem, the hip joint will become unstable, leading to back pain. Someone with weak glutes and/or lats will most likely have a motor unit recruitment dysfunction leading to increased tension in the hamstrings and will be at a higher risk of recurring hamstring strains.

Here’s how to train it:

Take your core training to the next level by incorporating these exercises to optimize performance!

 


15 Minute High Intensity Lunch Break Circuit

15 Minute High Intensity Lunch Break Circuit

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with too much on your plate? Bombarded with day-to-day tasks at work and at home? We can never seem to fit in everything that needs to get done within 24 hours. For a lot of us, time is enemy number one of our fitness goals. There is a pre-conceived notion that a workout that lasts less than 60 minutes is subpar. This idea has been planted in our brains, and we don’t feel satisfied or accomplished unless we get exactly an X amount of cardio and a Y amount of strength training. Well, for those of you who don’t have the option of dedicating hours at the gym, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Studies show that a quick 10-15 minute workout will earn you great benefits rather than not exercising at all. Take a look at what a short, lunch break circuit can do for you:

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, you can get the same benefits from 2-3 short workouts during the day as you can from a long trip to the gym. Shorter workouts tend to be higher in intensity. This provides greater reward than a moderate intensity, long workout. Studies have shown that HIIT (high intensity-interval training) for 20-30 minutes can produce increased fat loss and muscle development. If you’re stressed with work or your school workload has you feeling down, remember that a mini workout gets your blood flowing to the brain which brings so many benefits (including the motivation to get your work done!).

  • Gain energy
  • Improved mood and reduced stress
  • Headache prevention/relief
  • Better sleeping habits
  • Decrease in depressive feelings
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • So much more!

Consistent, shorter, high intensity workouts have shown to produce great improvements to your cardiovascular health. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, states that HIIT types of workouts allow your heart to grow bigger and stronger, which increases your overall fitness capabilities. Your heart learns to perform at a higher capacity and recover quickly. Who doesn’t want a stronger heart?! We all know that it is way easier to find 15-30 minutes in our day, rather than set aside 1-2 hours. Regularly finding those short intervals during the day to complete a mini workout can do wonders for your motivation and consistency. One healthy choice leads to another, so when those healthy choices are painless to make and easy to find, we are motivated to stay on the right track.

Some of you may be wondering, “What in the world can I do on my lunch break or free time in only 15 minutes?” Working out doesn’t have to require dumbbells or machines–your bodyweight will do just fine. Check out the workout below, designed by one of our trainers, to get you started. Feel free to mix it up, which is easy to do during an HIIT exercise, and be creative! Remember this the next time you find yourself struggling or looking for motivation–something is always better than nothing.

15 Minute Lunch Break Circuit

Warm Up

Jump Rope-2 min

*Perform these 3 exercises for 30 seconds each, 2 sets

Body Weight Squats

Push Ups

Sit Ups

*Perform these 3 exercises for 30 seconds each, 2 sets

Dumbbell Alternating Lunge

Plank Ups

Russian Twist

*Perform these 3 exercises for 30 seconds each, 2 sets

Alternating Lateral Lunges

T-Spine Push Up

Penguin

Burpees       (As many as you can in 1 minute)

Always remember to stretch while you cool down, keep those muscles loose and improve your flexibility!

If you enjoyed this workout and you would like to receive personalized workouts on the go right on your smart phone, message us by clicking here to start your 7 day FREE trial of our online personal training program! Risk free, easy to use, and convenient.


Increase Your Speed with Plyometric Training

Increase Your Speed
with Plyometric Training

When you hear the term “plyometric,” most people think of jumping or jump training. However, plyometric is defined as an action that causes a muscle to reach maximal force in the shortest time possible. We can take the term “plyometric” and directly apply it to speed training. Before we do, let’s review how the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC) contributes to increasing your speed with plyometric training by breaking down the three types of muscle contractions.

  1. Eccentric Phase – This is the lowering phase where the muscle lengthens.
  2. Isometric Phase – The static muscle contraction that acts as the bridge between the eccentric and concentric phase.
  3. Concentric Phase– This is the phase when the muscle contracts and shortens to move the external load.

Anytime you perform dynamic movement you are utilizing the SSC. For example, let’s take a typical squat. When descending downward, your hips move back. Your knees bend. The quads, hamstrings, and glutes lengthen. This is the eccentric phase of the squat. At the end of the eccentric phase, right before you transition upward, there is a slight pause at the bottom of the squat. This is the isometric phase. As you transition upward, your quads, hamstrings, and glute muscles shorten. This causes your knees and hips to extend, completing the concentric phase.

Now that we have gone over the SSC, let’s dive into the relationship between plyometrics and the SSC. We know that plyometric is a rapid, maximal force movement.  The stretch-shortening cycle is a 3-phase muscle contraction involved in dynamic movements. Now how do they relate to one another? Plyometric training helps enhance the SSC by rapidly going through the eccentric, isometric, and concentric phases. This trains dynamic movements like sprinting and jumping to be more efficient and explosive.

So, how can you increase your speed with plyometric training? If we separate the three phases of the SSC and train them individually, you will see an overall increase in speed. We train the eccentric part of a movement to be able to absorb more energy and power. We then train the isometric phase, so that the force we generated and absorbed in our eccentric phase is not lost in transition from eccentric to concentric and actually adds to the force production. Finally, we focus on the concentric phase, ensuring that we get the highest rate of force development out of the movement.

  1. Eccentric – Train slow and focus on your landing! Allow your muscles to recruit the necessary energy in the weight-room and spend 3-8 seconds on the way down in each exercise. When jumping, focus on the initial contact to the ground–don’t waste the energy produced. Avoid knees going in or out, hips swaying, or chest falling forward.
  2. Isometric – Train at a stop, hold the landing! Allow your muscles to maintain the energy that has been produced. Get to the bottom of your exercise and hold it for 3-8 seconds. When jumping, land properly, then hold that landing position for 2 full seconds before standing up.
  3. Concentric – Train fast and focus on exploding! Allow your muscles to use the energy produced, come out of the bottom of the exercise quickly, but don’t sacrifice form!

(Pro tip: Decrease the amount of weight when doing concentric training until you can adequately control that weight.)

When jumping, focus on the up portion being as explosive as you can make it. Throw your chest to the sky, keep your knees in line with your toes, and launch your hips through.

In a relatively short amount of time you will see an increase in speed by integrating plyometric training and emphasizing the SSC. A comprehensive program to increase speed should include an effective warm up, speed training, plyometrics, and strength and power movements. Be sure to rest 48 to 72 hours between plyometric workouts to maximize results!

 

 


Unilateral vs Bilateral Lower Body Training

Unilateral vs. Bilateral Lower Body Training

The unilateral versus bilateral training debate is just about as controversial as what comes first, the chicken or the egg? If you were to ask personal trainers, fitness coaches, or performance specialists which is better, you would get mixed responses. To make things easier for you I am going to break down the differences between unilateral and bilateral lower body training.  The best one for you depends on where you are on your fitness journey or performance goals.

Unilateral Training

Unilateral training involves asymmetrical exercises that only use one side of your body at a time. A unilateral lower body movement involves the use of one leg. There are varying intensities when it comes to unilateral lower body training depending on whether the exercises are done with free weights or machines. Here are examples of unilateral lower body exercises:

Bilateral Training

Bilateral lower body training involves the use of both legs symmetrically. Bilateral lower body exercises are the staples of most strength programs. Here are examples of bilateral lower body exercises.

Benefits of Unilateral Training

Unilateral lower body training is great for improving muscle imbalance, kinesthetic awareness, and stability. The asymmetrical nature of these exercises cause your body to stabilize joints and core muscles to maintain balance while executing the movement. If you have had an injury or dysfunction in your lower extremities, unilateral training will help isolate those weak points, and the appropriate exercise can help strengthen to restore full health and function. Unilateral training puts more isolated stress on the single limb being worked. This allows people to put stress on their limbs without overloading with weight, which can increase risk for injury.

Benefits of Bilateral Training

There are many benefits of bilateral lower body training. These include greater muscle recruitment, strength gains, central nervous system (CNS) adaptation, hormone response, greater metabolic effect, and requires less coordination. When performing bilateral lower body exercises, balance and stability are less of a factor compared to unilateral training. This gives you the ability to lift more weight. If your goal is to increase strength, muscle mass, power, or speed, bilateral training will help you make the necessary gains to reach your goal.

How to Implement Unilateral and Bilateral Training into your Workouts

Both bilateral and unilateral lower body training exercises are beneficial whether you are looking to improve your fitness or performance for sports. The most important thing to consider when selecting bilateral or unilateral lower body exercises is what is your number one goal? Do you want to maximize your strength? Do you want to improve your balance, core strength, or stability? Are you recovering from an injury and looking to strengthen an isolated joint or muscle group? Answering these questions before making exercise selections will help you map a plan of action before putting together an exercise routine.

My recommendation is to combine both bilateral and unilateral training in the same training session. After completing a thorough warm up, start with a compound bilateral exercise such as a squat or deadlift. It is important to do these exercises while mentally and physically fresh because they are more taxing than unilateral exercises. After completing one to two compound bilateral exercises, add in one to two unilateral exercises. Another option to consider is switching back and forth between hip dominant exercises (deadlift, hip thrust, etc.) and knee dominant exercises (squats, step ups, etc.).

Below is an example of a combined bilateral and unilateral lower body training routine.

 

Example 1

Bilateral

Back Squat 3×8-12
Unilateral

Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

3×8-12
Unilateral

Dumbbell Lunge

3×8-12
Bilateral Stability Ball Hamstring Curl

3×8-12

 

Example 2

Bilateral

Deadlift 4×5

Unilateral

Bulgarian Split Squat 3×6
Bilateral Nordic Leg Curl

3×8

Unilateral Single Leg Hip Thrust

3×8

 

 


5 Reasons Why People Struggle to Reach Their Fitness Goals

5 Reasons Why People Struggle
to Reach Their Fitness Goals

Striving to achieve your fitness goals can be a frustrating and emotional process. We make up excuses on why we can’t get over the hurdle to achieve our fitness goals. Some of us lack motivation; others lack accountability. Maybe you can’t afford a gym membership or a personal trainer. Maybe your body has adapted, and you’re bored with the same monotonous workout routine. Or maybe you just don’t have the time to commit to workout consistently and meal prep.

If any of these excuses apply to you, let us assure you, you are not alone! We believe in you and know that you have what it takes to overcome these problems, but you must be willing to take action. The first step to overcoming a barrier is to acknowledge the problem and find a solution that works for you.

Here are 5 common reasons why people struggle to reach their fitness goals and ways to improve them.

5. Monotonous Workout Routines

You have been doing the same old workout routine for months and months because you obtained results initially. It’s easy, it’s comfortable, and you don’t have to think about what to do next. If this is you, we commend you for being active, getting in a routine, and trying to do things the right way. However, it is important that you understand how our bodies react to exercising.

While working out, our bodies trigger an alarm signal that an external stress is being imposed on our bodies. Our sympathetic nervous system activates a fight or flight response so that we can overcome that stress for the time being. If we are consistently exposed to the same workout, our bodies will no longer trigger the alarm signal because it knows how to deal with the stressor since it has encountered it before. This is when an adaptation occurs.

If you’re doing the same workout, your progress will come to a halt and you will hit a plateau. To prevent this from occurring, switch up your workout routine regularly, every four to six weeks, to continue to get the results you are working towards.

4. Lack of Support and Motivation

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If the people around you live an unhealthy lifestyle or condemn you for wanting to invest in yourself, it may be time for you to change your top five.

Having a great support system is crucial to your success. You need to surround yourself with people who are willing to grow with you on your fitness journey. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you work out together or eat the same meals. You just need people around you that will encourage and motivate you to become the best version of yourself.

There are going to be days that you are frustrated and negative thoughts of self-doubt will creep into your head saying “give up” or “what’s the point of doing all this hard work? It’s not even worth it.” It is important that your support system gives you positive reinforcement so you can have the energy and motivation to keep pushing on.

What if you don’t have family, friends, or coworkers that support your lifestyle change? We recommend meeting new friends by joining fitness communities online, group fitness classes, boot camps, working with a personal trainer, or consulting with a fitness professional.

3. Not Enough Money

There are a million other things you would rather spend your hard earned money on other than paying to be tired, hot, and sweaty right? The most effective way to get results is working with a professional who knows how to properly demonstrate and teach exercise technique as well as provide fitness and nutrition tips. The problem is that working with fitness professionals like personal trainers, performance coaches, or dietitians, can be expensive.

The good news is, with today’s technology, you can work with a fitness professional through online personal training for a fraction of the cost.  The best investment you can make is in yourself. The return on your investment will come from more energy to do the things you love, inspiring other people with your success, more spare time from increased productivity, and enhanced quality of life. Let’s face it, you can’t afford not to.

2. No Accountability

Working out consistently and eating healthy without getting off track can be extremely difficult. How many times have you been through the vicious cycle of losing a few pounds and gaining it right back? There are a lot of factors that could play into the roller coaster ride but typically the main problem is lack of accountability.

What if you had someone watching over you before you ate a whole roll of Oreos? Do you think you still would have done it? Most likely not. What if you had someone cheering you on after a long day at work and motivating you to hit your fitness goals? Would you still skip your workout session? Probably not. We need people to hold us accountable because we take pride in living up to the expectations of others. A big reason why working out with a friend or personal trainer works, is because they hold you accountable. They make sure you show up, take care of business, and hold up your end of the bargain.

1. Lack of Time

There are never enough hours in a day. There is always something we need to do from driving kids to and from school, studying for an exam, meeting a project deadline at work, and the list goes on and on. By the time you actually take a moment to sit down and take a breath, it’s almost time to hit the pillow. This is a barrier that prevents many people from exercising.

The best way to find time is to make time. Working out is something that needs to be prioritized or it will never happen. This means being more efficient during day-to-day tasks, working on time-management skills, and choosing to work out instead of binge watching your favorite Netflix show. Try these tips to make time to invest in yourself:

  • Get organized
  • Schedule workouts on a calendar
  • Develop a routine and create good habits
  • Get an early start to your day
  • Give yourself a time limit to complete tasks throughout the day
  • Say no to tasks that are unimportant or delegate them to someone else

We all face barriers that prevent us from reaching our goals. We challenge you to identify your barriers, find a solution, and take action. If your workouts are monotonous, you lack support/motivation, you don’t have enough money, lack accountability, or don’t think you have enough time, there are ways that you can overcome these issues. At N1 Motion we support you and will empower you to break through barriers to achieve your personal goals! Our online personal training program is a great way to get started. Click here to request a free 7-Day Trial!

 


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