Archive for exercise programs, workout tips

The Best Workout You’re Not Doing

by Meaghan posted January 12, 2010

Maximum Strength? Good, but no. New Rules of Lifting? Nope, but you’re getting warmer. Fitness Magazine’s You Can Do It plan? Maybe…

The best workout you’re not doing is exactly that: The one you’re NOT doing. Joe hit the nail on the head when he said, “The secret is switching things up.”

It sounds like an oxymoron, but consistent change produces…well, consistent change. Your body is smart and adapts very quickly to the demands placed upon it. And the more training years you have under your belt, the harder it becomes to make improvements, so the more important it becomes to continually provide your body with new stimuli.

Now, this doesn’t mean working out in total randomness. You still need a program that allows you to track your progress; but that program should also keep your body guessing by changing exercises every few weeks and constantly varying rep ranges to target different muscle fibers…and to prevent you from getting bored.

We might be creatures of habit but, when it comes to fitness, the best habit is change.

Check back next week to see how Yvette and Tanya are doing on their new plan!

Meaghan Shea

by admin posted

sheaMeaghan Shea is a personal trainer at FocusNYC and Editor of FitnessMASH. Since earning her Masters degree in Applied Physiology at Columbia University in 2011, she has also been working as Education Coordinator at FocusNYC and the Focus Personal Training Institute.

Meaghan discovered her passion for both fitness and writing at Colby College, where she was a four-year member of the varsity softball team. She graduated with a degree in English and moved to New York, beginning her fitness career as a personal trainer at the New York Health and Racquet Club and intern at Fitness Magazine. She went on to be Fitness Editor for The Exercise Group and now enjoys sharing knowledge through teaching as well as writing. She brings a rare combination of experience in the editorial, educational and fitness realms to FitnessMASH.

Bulgarian Split Squats and Hungarian Bat Wings

by Meaghan posted January 9, 2010

For those who don’t closely follow his work, leading strength coach Mike Boyle has long preached the benefits of the front vs. back squat when it comes to lower back health. More recently, though, he has altogether eliminated the bilateral squat in his programs in place of the “Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat (RFESS),” or what most of us would call the “Bulgarian split squat” (more on this to come…). Check out this clip from his newly-released Functional Strength Coach 3.0.

The gist of the presentation is that he believes the back to be the limiting factor when squatting on two legs, and his proof is that his athletes can squat far more than half their max in the bilateral squat on one leg for the same number of reps, illustrating what’s called “bilateral deficit.” Simply put, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

Some people think he’s just trying to stir the pot with his adamant approach to this matter, but I’ve been experimenting with his idea for a while now and I have to say I agree with him. Although I still think the squat has other benefits, I don’t think it’s the most efficient lower body exercise once a certain level of strength is achieved. I don’t have any back problems, but I still can’t squat nearly enough to provide much stimulus to my legs without losing good form.

The funny thing is, Boyle is almost as strongly against calling the exercise “Bulgarian” as he is for crowning it the new king. And yes, here I think he’s just trying to get attention. But so what? I don’t know or care where the “RFESS” originally came from, but if knocking the name simply because it isn’t Bulgarian draws attention to his real point and improves the strength and conditioning industry, I’m all for it.

I doubt Dan John’s “Hungarian bat wing” exercise (where you lay face down on a bench with two dumbbells on the floor and focus on pulling through just the last four inches of flexion by cramming your shoulder blades together) came from Hungary, either. But it’s still a worthy exercise that I only heard of because someone came along and made a big hoopla about its name.

Here is a similar exercise called the “prone Cuban snatch.” I’m pretty sure it’s not Cuban and it’s definitely not a snatch, but I bet most of you will just now be discovering it, and only because of my catchy title. This is a good thing, so enjoy the video and try the exercises…wherever the heck they came from.