Squatting and Ankle Dorsiflexion

Squatting and Ankle Dorsiflexion

Do you have trouble reaching parallel or lower when squatting? Maybe you find your trunk leaning forward the deeper you descend into your squat. Your ankle mobility may be the reason, or perhaps the weight is a little too heavy, but that’s a topic for another time. 

Ankle dorsiflexion during squatting is how your knee can go over your toes. A quick test you can do to assess your ankle dorsiflexion is to place your foot 5 inches from the wall in a half-kneeling position. If you can touch your knee to the wall, you should have sufficient mobility to hit depth in your squat.

If your knee does not touch the wall, you may want to consider adding some ankle mobility work to your warm-ups or using a heel lift when you squat. Adding a heel lift from .5 inches to 1 inch (using small plates or lifting shoes) decreases the amount of motion needed in the ankles, allowing you to reach a lower depth with less compensation in the hips and back.

The pictures below demonstrate a squat without a heel lift and with one. As you can see, the knees can travel over the toes more, and the trunk is more upright with a heel lift.

An easy mobility exercise to do before you squat is a weighted dorsiflexion hold: Start in the half-kneeling position and place a 20 to 35lb weight on the top of your knee. Then move your knee as far over your toe as you can without letting your ankle lift off the ground; hold for one to two minutes. You should feel a stretch in your ankle and calf.

Give these a try and see how they feel. If you are having trouble or are unsure of your squat form, be sure to contact any of our trainers!

A Guide to Weight Training for Beginners

A Guide to Weight Training for Beginners

If you’re someone who is eager to start building muscle, increasing strength, and improving overall fitness, you’re likely to consider getting your first-ever gym membership. While it can certainly feel intimidating as a beginner, going to the gym isn’t all that scary; especially when the gym is comprised of a community of like-minded individuals. 

Luckily, that’s what you get when you sign up as a member of Kaua’i Athletic Club here in Kauai, Hawaii! 

Nevertheless, the hesitation to embark on your fitness journey is understandable and completely normal. After all, as a complete beginner to the weight room, you’re likely unsure of where to start! It can be overwhelming, there’s no doubt about it…

With that being said, have no fear. In what follows, we’ll be discussing how YOU can begin your fitness journey with confidence. Just remember, you’re a beginner so you’re not expected to know what you’re doing. That’s what we here at Kaua’i Athletic Club are here for.

Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll walk away a more prepared gym-goer, ready to tackle all of your health and fitness goals! So, where do you start?!

Let’s get into it!

 

Where to begin

As a novice to weight lifting and the gym in general for that matter, you’ll be happy to hear that Increasing strength and building muscle are typically quite easy for beginners. In fact, most can expect to see noticeable improvements within eight short weeks of committed and consistent exercise.

With that being said, the primary concern for beginners shouldn’t be performance or results but rather safety and correct execution of movement. 

Once you learn the basics, devise a plan, and begin to execute it efficiently and effectively, Your only concern should be commitment, discipline, and consistency. By doing so, you set yourself up not only for short-term success but longevity both inside and outside of the gym.

 

Let’s get on the fast track to building muscle and strength! Below are five (5) beginner tips for strength training:

  1. Begin With Just Your Bodyweight
  2. Start Slow & Focus on Frequency Rather than Intensity
  3. Don’t Ignore the Warmup!
  4. Rest & Recover
  5. Make Proper Form a Priority 

Following these tips will ensure that you begin on the right foot. Building bad habits, on the other hand (executing a lift poorly, for example) will only result in poor results, and ultimately injury. 

 

Begin with just your bodyweight

It can be tempting to immediately begin lifting substantial weights. Not only will you be subconsciously encouraged by those around you who are doing so, but you also know that lifting weights is what you’re there to do, right?! Wrong…

While the ultimate goal is, of course, to lift weights and progressively build upon those weights to build muscle & strength, it’s not what you’re initially there to do as a beginner. 

Sure, building muscle and increasing strength requires a certain level of resistance and intensity, however, this can be achieved by simply utilizing your own body weight; as a beginner, especially! Moreover, utilizing your body weight is the safest and most effective way to learn proper form while also training your musculature to carry load. 

After all, weight training, or strength training, simply requires resistance. While this can certainly be accomplished from weights themselves, it can also be accomplished through resistance bands and even your own bodyweight, especially starting out!

Once you’re prepared and ready to begin challenging yourself, start introducing weights and resistance bands. This is what is known in the fitness world as “progressive overload”; the process of adding difficulty to your exercise over the course of days, weeks, and months, accomplished in a multitude of ways (more sets, reps, weight, time-under-tension, etc).

 

Start slow & focus on frequency rather than intensity

This tip is widely related to the previous tip about beginning with just your body weight. Not only does it allow you to stay safe while also achieving an effective workout, but it also allows for a smooth progression of improvements rather than a fast track to injury.

The recommendation for beginners is to simply begin with training two to three times per week, or 150 minutes/week, 75 of those minutes being moderate to high-intensity effort. This will allow efficient bodily adaption to new stimuli. The ultimate goal is to work up to 5-6 days per week of vigorous activity. 

In short, a variation in frequency and intensity is key. As you become comfortable with form and technique, and as you become comfortable with being uncomfortable under intensity, training volume can begin to increase. Until then, ease into it…

 

Don’t ignore the warmup

Warming up is an integral part of any effective training program. While there are a number of ways that one can prep their body for action, a simple 5-10 minute dynamic warm-up is the best place to start!

Warming up not only increases internal body temperature (an effective method for improving performance and reducing injury), but it also increases range of motion and allows for proper motor/muscle recruitment during the workout. 

While we could get into the detailed science behind warming up, the key takeaway here is to simply warm-up. Sure, it’s tedious, boring, and monotonous, however, so is sitting on the couch after an injury. Choose your poison!

 

Rest & recover

Arguably the most important part of any workout program or exercise regimen is rest and recovery. While it may sound counterintuitive, the research is undeniable. 

Rest and recovery includes stretching and cooling down post-workout, taking necessary rest days, getting a sufficient amount of sleep daily (7-9 hours), and taking care of your body at all times.

While many tend to ignore it, recovery is the single most important aspect of any training program whether you’re a complete beginner or an elite athlete. Not only does it help you prepare for your next workout, but it helps prevent injury, improves overall well-being, and improves performance over time, among other incredible benefits. 

While recovery can involve a multitude of comprehensive strategies and tactics, as a beginner, simply learn to listen to your body.

 

Make proper form a priority

When you do decide to engage in a weight training program, focusing on form and controlling the weight will be the key to success and longevity. While the primary intention of proper form and technique is to ensure safety and injury prevention, it also directly correlates to performance, aesthetics, and overall results.

In summary, while these tips are generally given to beginners, they carry over to all groups of athletes and gym-goers alike. Everyone starts somewhere, and if you’re going to start, you should want to get it right the first time!

 

A final word of advice

If you can take away and implement some of these tips immediately, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an all-around fitness enthusiast, and ultimately – an athlete! As a recap, always remember to go at your own pace, engage in proper form, and do everything you can to remain happy and healthy.

If you’re looking to join a gym but still have apprehension about taking the first step, consider Kilauea Phys Ed here in Kauai, HI. Offering 5,500 square feet of space, we offer top-of-the-line cardio equipment, strength equipment, and functional fitness equipment. 

More importantly, however, we service a small and tight-knit community of like-minded individuals eager to continue on their path of health & fitness. So, if you’re in the area, be sure to check us out. We can’t wait to meet you!

Questions About Creatine? We’ve Got Answers

Supplement Being Poured into Cup

Questions About Creatine? We’ve Got Answers

So, what is it Creatine?

Creatine is the most popular ergogenic aid (a supplement that enhances performance) used in fitness and health. Creatine is a combination of three amino acids; glycine, arginine, and methionine. We can get creatine in our diets in foods like fish and red meat. There are different types of creatine available on the market; creatine monohydrate is the most widely researched.

 

Why should I take it?

Research has shown that creatine can aid in muscle gain, exercise performance, recovery, injury prevention, and thermoregulation. Supplementing creatine increases intramuscular creatine concentrations, allowing your body to produce more energy. Therefore potentially improving your performance during your workouts.

 

Is it safe?

There are over 500 peer-refereed articles have been published about creatine, making it the most studied supplement. The International Society of Sports Nutrition reported in 2017 that “there is no compelling scientific evidence that the short or long term use of creatine monohydrate has any detrimental effects” (Kreider et al. 2017).

 

How much should I take?

The recommended dosage is 3-5g/day or 0.1/kg of body mass/day. You can do a “loading phase” of creatine in which you would take a higher dosage, from 15g-25g for five days, to saturate the muscle cells. After five days, you would then return to your maintenance dosage.

Of course, if you find yourself unsure if you should be supplementing creatine, consult a healthcare professional.

References

Kreider RB, Kalman DS, Antonio J, Ziegenfuss TN, Wildman R, Collins R, Candow DG, Kleiner SM, Almada AL, Lopez HL. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Jun 13;14:18. doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z. PMID: 28615996; PMCID: PMC5469049.

Benefits of a Personal Trainer or Coach

Benefits of a Personal Trainer or Coach

As you go along your fitness or health journey, a personal trainer or one-on-one coach is a valuable resource for achieving your goals. You might think that you can just hit the gym, do your half-hour of cardio, and lift some weights every few days to see results. This might be true, but using an educated professional who is trained to push you just the right amount and in the right ways can take you further than you ever realized. 

 

Education

Personal trainers are certified in physical education, nutrition, and kinesthetics. Not only are they well-versed in the right ways to exercise to prevent injury, good form, and how to combine movements for greater efficiency, they can teach you these skills so that you can take them further into your life. 

Knowledge is power. If you know why you are doing something a certain way, exercising and resting in certain patterns, and making specific food choices, then you’ll be more likely to continue with the program. 

 

Correct form is key

A one-on-one coach makes sure that you are holding your body in the correct posture the entire time you’re exercising. Correct posture ensures that your muscles are being worked out in the way that strengthens them the most, while preventing injury. 

Eventually, your body and muscles will become so used to doing things in the exact right position that you won’t have to think twice about it. When you have a personal trainer who is watching your individual movements and helping you pinpoint the ways to perfect them, you know that your exercise time is being used to its full potential. 

 

Get individual help

Exercise regimes and nutrition plans aren’t one-size-fits-all. Every person’s body is different, and everyone comes into their journey with different knowledge and goals. As you grow, strengthen, and improve, your goals will change as well. Having someone that can help adjust your plan to your needs ensures that you’re always exercising and fueling your body to maximum potential. 

 

Goal-setting partner

Most people want to see results right away, which isn’t often practical (or possible). A personal trainer knows the process and can help you set goals that are both short- and long-term. They are experienced in health-related journeys, so they can tell you what to expect and help cheer you on as your short-term goals make way for the long-term. 

 

Make plans for events or activities

If you have an event, competition, or race on the docket, a one-on-one coach can help you make a plan for what you need to do each day, week, or month previous. As you go along, these plans can be altered if necessary. 

These events don’t have to be your run-of-the-mill marathons, either. Let’s say you want to learn to scuba dive or horseback ride, but you’re over the weight limit. Or you need weight-loss surgery but have to get to a certain point before you qualify. A personal trainer is the best way to help you meet your individual needs.

 

Accountability

We’d all like to think we’re our own best cheerleaders, but that’s usually just not true. When there’s someone else who we “answer to,” we are much more likely to stay on the true and narrow path. This is often even more true when you’ve paid for a service—you want to make sure you get your money’s worth. 

 

Minimize waste, maximize results

Gyms can be overwhelming, especially if you aren’t well-versed in what the specific machines are supposed to be for. How many people have you seen walk into a gym, half-heartedly use an arm machine, wander over to a leg machine and push for a couple of minutes, then walk out? (If that’s you, we understand.)

If you’re spending your valuable time in the gym, you want to know that every minute is making you stronger, leaner, more capable, and flexible. You definitely don’t want to find out that the months spent doing an exercise a certain way weren’t helping you at all. 

A personal trainer makes a plan specific to you so that when you get there, you can get started right away. They’ll also show you exactly how you should be performing each movement so ensure your muscles are working to maximize potential. 

 

Nutritional guidance

Every certified personal trainer is also educated in nutrition. Exercise is important, especially for strength training, but what you put into your body is of foundational importance to a healthy physique. Food is fuel, too, so if you plan on working hard, you’re going to need to fill yourself up with energizing foods that last. A one-on-one coach can develop a plan specific to your body that you’ll enjoy following. 

 

Prioritizing mental health

Physical exercise and proper nutrition are closely linked to mental health. Exercise creates endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin, all of which are “feel good” hormones that keep you in a positive state. A personal trainer will help you stay motivated, challenge you appropriately, and cheer you on when times get hard. They support you and are often another solid relationship that you can count on. 

Consistency and creativity

During your fitness journey, you want to stay consistent, developing strength going forward so that you can accomplish bigger goals with time. You don’t want to concentrate on one muscle group for a little while, then move to only another, and fall off all the way. However, you also don’t want to get bored. A coach will make sure that you’re building on your strengths while switching up exercises and circuits so that coming to the gym continues to be an exciting experience. 

 

Final thoughts

Using a personal trainer or coach is an investment in yourself. You deserve the time and attention that an individual coach can give you. Personal trainers or one-on-one coaches are a valuable resource that can help you maximize your workout time while helping you achieve any goal you set for yourself. 

 

Resources

https://fitness.edu.au/the-fitness-zone/15-benefits-only-a-personal-trainer-can-provide/

Increase Your Fitness Experience- With Supplements

Increase Your Fitness Experience- With Supplements

Achieving your fitness goals isn’t just about exercising. It’s about eating right, too. In today’s day and age, though, oftentimes foods don’t contain everything that they could to maximize available nutrition. Using supplements can help keep your body in prime shape and maximize the work that you’re doing so you see lasting results fast.

 

When you’re choosing supplements, do your research. Talk with your nutritionist, doctor, and fitness professionals so that you can get a range of opinions and information and make an informed decision best for you. Track your progress so that you can know what is helping you feel and look your best. 

 

Protein powder

Protein helps build muscle, as well as repair it after strenuous exercise. Consuming protein powder before a workout allows your body to develop the most amount of muscle possible while you’re exercising. Then, when your muscles grow they’re able to accomplish even greater strength training and exude power while running, biking, swimming, etc. 

 

When you’re putting something into your body, though, you want to make sure it’s of the highest quality possible. There’s no point in filling your body with chemicals and fillers that aren’t going to do the job they promise while potentially harming you, as well. 

 

Vegan protein powder

Many people follow a vegan diet/lifestyle, however, so options for vegan protein powders are important. Instead of whey, these plant-based protein powders source their ingredients from peas, beans (such as navy or garbanzo), lentils, flax, quinoa, and seeds such as cranberry, pumpkin, or chia.

Vegan protein powders come in unflavored or with flavorings such as chocolate or vanilla. Many also have qualifications such as NSF sport-certified, organic, or soy- or GMO-free.  

 

Creatine 

The journey to physical fitness isn’t all about moving as much as possible. Your body also needs rest to recover. When you sleep, your body heals itself and grows. Rest days allow your body the chance to reset and “want” to work out again. 

Creatine, although often used as a performance enhancer, is a powerful addition to your recovery routine. Creatine can help your overall sleep quality: deepening your REM cycles, waking up less, and allowing your precious rest time to feel like it’s working harder for you. Creatine can help your heart rate variability (HRV), which is the fluctuating time in between your heartbeats. 

When your HRV is high (meaning different times between heartbeats), your body is using the parasympathetic nervous system, which is associated with rest and recovery. This is the “rest and digest” state that helps your body get back to a neutral state. The sympathetic nervous system is associated with fight and flight, or high adrenaline activities.

 

Super greens

Your parents always told you to “eat your greens,” right? Well, we’re going to tell you the same thing. The vitamins and minerals in leafy green vegetables just can’t be matched anywhere else. However, with today’s busy lifestyles it can be hard to cook at each meal or take the time to sit and eat a plate loaded with vegetables multiple times a day. 

Add some greens to your daily protein shake, a salad dressing, or even just to water! Super greens, like the ones offered by Earth Fed Muscle, will reduce inflammation, improve your digestive health, and add the power of antioxidants to your system for advanced healing and disease protection. Greens supplements use ingredients like kale and spinach, and are often sweetened with choices such as spirulina or mint. 

 

Branch chain amino acids

Branch chain amino acids, or BCAAs, are a combination of a few different acids, each with its own benefit. BCAAs contain leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are an important part of protein development as well as glucose retention in our cells. That means that consuming BCAAs can benefit you while your body recovers and builds muscle. 

Adding BCAAs to your diet can help reduce muscle damage from over-exercising, as long as you begin consuming it while the damage is low to moderate. The best time to take BCAAs is before your workout begins. A high intake each day can also help prevent injury in the first place. 

You can also get a good amount of BCAAs when you eat lean protein, such as chicken and turkey. Most people can get enough from a healthy diet, but if you’re on a specialized eating plan (such as vegetarians or vegans), this could be an important addition. 

 

Vitamin D

Most people can consume the recommended daily dose of vitamin D through dairy products and the sun. However, many people don’t consume dairy as part of a vegan or lactose-intolerant diet. Today’s heightened use of sunscreen, too, prevents people from taking in as much vitamin D as we often need. 

If you are deficient in vitamin D for any reason, consuming it can help improve your fitness performance. Vitamin D is closely linked to skeletal and muscle health. Not only does it help improve performance, but being deficient can make it harder for your body to work at peak levels. 

 

Caffeine

Everyone knows that caffeine gives you energy. It’s also a fat-burning supplement typically associated with weight loss. Caffeine boosts your metabolism, gives you extra antioxidants, and can enhance performance. It can also block negative receptors in your nervous system, giving you positive energy surges, improving mental performance, and slowing down the mental decline related to aging. 

Just like with most other supplements, though, more doesn’t mean better. Overconsumption of caffeine can create shakiness, crashes, and dependency. 

Caffeine is a supplement that many people are sensitive to in even small amounts. If you’re adding it to your routine and not yet used to consuming it, start small and pay close attention to how you feel.

 

Take something home with you to start your supplment journey

It all starts with the first choice! The front desk offers a range of supplements to get you started on a supplement plan. Ask our team members or your personal trainer for some recommendations that match your fitness and lifestyle goals. We’d love to help you find something that not only tastes great but makes you feel great, too. 

Remember that supplements are enhancers. They aren’t going to do all the hard work for you, but you can get some extra “oomph” behind the hard work you’re putting in. 

 

Resources

 

Tips on Returning to Your Gym Routine

Kauai Athletic Club Members

Tips on Returning to Your Gym Routine

Each of us has faced many challenges in the last several months and we now collectively look forward to a phased-in reopening of our economies and gaining a semblance of life that extends past quarantine. The world we now encounter is different and foreign in so many ways. 

As economies begin to re-awaken, many are thinking about and anticipating returning to gyms and fitness studios.  You are likely excited to get back into your old exercise routines in a safe manner.  Stay in touch with your local gym/fitness studio and follow their social media about opening dates and new safety protocols that will be in place.
 
In addition to understanding your gym’s new protocols, take a moment to reflect on your current fitness level coming out of quarantine life.  Maybe you have been active during the quarantine – adapting with different types of workouts and/or focusing on certain aspects of fitness like improving your mile time.  Or, perhaps you’ve slacked off on your physical fitness during the ongoing weeks of stay-at-home isolation.  In either case, getting back in the gym may require you to ease into old routines with a solid strategy. 

Here are my tips to get back to your gym routine safely.
 

 

Start Slow & Light
Give yourself time to work back into your old gym routines.  For many of us, we may want to go BEAST MODE and push hard!  That approach can lead to injury so be smart and make a plan.  If you’ve been relatively inactive, give yourself several weeks to build up to your old routine. 
 
Even if you have been active, acknowledge if your gym workouts are significantly different than your quarantine workouts.  For instance, if you continued strength training at home with body weight exercises or light weights, give yourself time to build back up to the weights you were lifting.  Do not expect to go from body weight squats to heavy barbell back squats in your first week back in the gym.  That may spell I-N-J-U-R-Y.
 
Don’t Skip the BOOKENDS of your workout:  Warm up and Post-Workout Stretching
This is not the time to by-pass a proper warm up and jump right into a sprint workout or heavy lifting session.  Use a foam roller to increase circulation and loosen up knotted fascia and tight muscles.  Add mobility drills to increase your joints’ range of motion.
 
When you finish workouts, schedule in 5-10 minutes of stretching and foam rolling.  Shorten your workout if you do not have time for the bookends.
 
Prioritize REST
Build in rest periods into your workout – even if you had not previously done that.  This includes rest periods between exercises and supersets.

Schedule rest days.  These days are perfect for active recovery activities like easy bike rides, walks, and light ocean swims. 

Get adequate sleep.  Our bodies repair the stress we put them through while we sleep.  I recommend setting a ‘bedtime’ alarm on your smartwatch or phone if you have difficulty getting to bed at a reasonable hour.  The alarm is a gentle nudge that it’s time to unwind.
 
Fuel your body with whole foods and water every day
Your body undergoes tissue breakdown and metabolic stress from hard workouts – whether that’s a sprint, HIIT (high intensity interval training), or heavy lifting session.  Give your body plenty of water to flush out metabolic waste and whole foods rich in vitamins and minerals to aid in repair.
 
As we return to lives under the “New Normal”, stay safe, keep bodies and immune systems healthy & train smart.