What is overtraining and why you should be avoiding it at all cost

Does working more hours make you more money? Not necessarily. By doing so, you increase your risk of wasting time on useless things. While seemingly busy, you may be preventing yourself from focusing on priorities and the task at hand, and possibly be decreasing your productivity.

The same is true with training. You may be weight training 4 times a week, jogging 30 km a week, doing spin class 3 times a week and going to Pilates class on your “rest” day but still not seeing results. You are fatigued, your body is constantly aching, you don’t sleep well and your morning resting heart rate is through the roof. Your fatigue may be contributing to the sugar cravings just to push you through the day. When you train too hard for too long without sufficient rest, the body is no longer able to adapt and restore its balance, known as homeostsis.

Most people don’t understand that it is while you are resting that these sought-after adaptations occur. During training you are creating microtrauma, or “breaking” your muscles apart to create an endocrine response to promote tissue remodelling, fat burning and hypertrophy when you are at rest.

Signs that you are overtraining or under-recovering and what you can do:

    1. Your mood is changing. If you’re feeling angry, depressed, with a high resting heart rate in the morning, take a break or decrease the volume (see number 5).
    2. You’re getting weaker. If the weights you are using every subsequent workout are decreasing/ plateaued (i.e., no overload), you are most likely not recovering sufficiently.
    3. Get sufficient rest. Optimal sleep should be uninterrupted and you should wake up refreshed. If this is not the case, you might want to read this article.
    4. Use nutrition. Vitamin C, E, glutamine, BCAA, wholesome foods will help you with recovery. Consult a Biosignature Practitioner about the proper peri-training and the best nutritional practice towards your health goals.
    5. Deload. For every 3 weeks you train at a high volume, spend one week at a low volume by decreasing the number of sets performed. 

Overtraining does not make you more fit

Be honest. Can you explain why you’re doing what you’re doing? Or are you just blindly following what someone else does and while feeling like you’re getting nowhere fast? Just as working more hours doesn’t necessarily make you more money, training more does not necessarily make you any fitter. Our goal is to find the happy medium in which our clients can train the fewest days as possible that will provide them with the maximal result. Consult a KX Exercise Coach and get a proper program, prioritize, and enjoy your days off with friends and family.

 

Train smarter, not harder.

Six ways to prevent and rehabilitate shoulder pain

Are you hunched over all day? Do you have rounded shoulders? Suffering from neck and shoulder pain?

Most of the population spend their days internally rotated, going to the gym to work chest and back, neglecting the small but essential rotator cuff muscles that keep their shoulder girdle in balance. When the external rotators are neglected, shoulder problems can arise and the prime movers will shut down when under high tension, and you may experience a sharp pain in the front of your shoulder.

Your rotator cuff muscles should be able to lift at least 10% of your bench press. The good news is, once your external rotators are able to perform under high loads, you will directly improve your larger pressing and pulling movements.

 

Six ways to prevent and rehabilitate shoulder injuries

  1. Emphasise a full range of motion. Pay attention to the eccentric motion (lowering of the resistance) to a completely stretched position.
  2. Improve internal rotation. By increasing the range of motion of the antagonist muscles between sets, you increase motor unit activation of the prime movers. An effective method is PNF.
  3. Apply gradual overload. Start with low weight to improve motor patterns, but eventually you will want to use a challenging weight.
  4. Maintain proper head and wrist position. Keep the wrist in a neutral position to minimize the stress on the elbows. Proper head position reduces strain on the neck.
  5. Always train the non-dominant arm first. The number of repetitions done by your weaker arm will determine how many reps you do for your dominant arm. Performing extra reps on the weaker side can allow it to catch up.
  6. Use soft tissue techniques, such as ART. A qualified practitioner who will release the muscles around the shoulder girdle and forearm will help improve your movement. The deep and superficial forearm flexors, infraspinatus, latissimus dorsi, long head of the triceps, subscapularis, teres major and teres minor can all contribute to imbalance of your shoulder girdle.

 

A strong, functional shoulder girdle translates to better performance in sports and daily activities. Unsure where to start? Find a trainer and a therapist to help you improve your shoulder girdle balance.

Toronto Body Transformation – Case Study 1

Somehow, people are led to believe that chronic neck and lower back pain are a normal part of life and that your genetic predisposition determines your hamstring flexibility. You do not have to live with chronic pain and muscular tightness. We design every training program to correct structural imbalances to avoid potential injury.

 

Improving posture through structural balance

Six weeks ago, KX client Neil was suffering from chronic neck, mid back and lower back pain. Posturally, on the left, you can see that his rib cage was anteriorly (forward) shifted and posteriorly (backward) tilted, compressing his mid-back, causing pain. His mid and lower back muscles were underactive, and left arm was very internally rotated.

 

Postural and movement assessment

Like majority of the population, Neil’s career forces him to be seated all day. Slumping forward  over a computer creates increased muscular tension in the upper trapezius, pecs, hamstrings and hip flexors. Consequently, the opposing muscles such as the lower trapezius, scapular stabilizers, transverse abdominus and obliques become weak. Tight hamstrings tilts the pelvis posteriorly in an attempt to correct the anterior tilt imposed by tight hip flexors. This “tug of war” when not protected with a strong abdominal core,  can induce lower back pain during lifting movements.

 

Correcting imbalances through strength training

By targeting these imbalances using strength training and effective myofascial stretches, Neil can better externally rotate his left arm and stabilize his scapula during pushing and pulling movements. By stabilizing his rib cage relative to his pelvis, he can activate his core and reduce back pain, enabling him to deadlift without pain.

 

You don’t have to live with back pain

If you’re looking to improve your posture, get rid of nagging chronic pain, perhaps put on some lean mass in the process, book a complimentary consultation with the KX Team. KX Therapists are an asset for diagnosing these postural issues and our KX Coach will be help you every step of the way to correct movement patterns, giving KX the edge as a multidisciplinary team to optimize the results of the training.

 

Train smarter, and harder.

Oh, and he also gained 5.5lb of lean muscle mass. Good job, Neil.

How to improve your squat

There is no question that in order to perform a squat, you need healthy ankles, knees and hips. Muscle imbalances can develop in the majority of the sedentary population who sits on a chair all day. This can affect your ability to perform a safe and effective squat.

As mentioned in our previous article, when one segment is locked short and tight, the neighbouring segments will compensate by becoming long and weak. If your hip flexors are locked short, it will cause excessive flexion in the lumbar spine, pulling your torso forward. Squatting with tight psoas resembles something closer to a Good Morning knee bend complex, creating excessive strain on the lower back and knees overtime.

Limitation anywhere in the body can contribute to the problem. Overactive soleus (calf muscles), hamstrings, underactive glutes, erector spinae muscle can also contribute to the problem.

Squats, when done properly, can strengthen your adductors, hamstrings, glutes and core muscles. Here are some ways you can improve your squat and get the most bang out of your buck.

  1. Perform split squats. 

    These are the king of all lower body exercises. It strengthens your gluteus medius and vastus medialis in the front leg and lengthen the hip flexors on the back leg. Split squats will improve your overall squat, but squats will not improve your split squats. Do them.

  1. Fire your glutes. 

    Some of my favourite glute exercises are the 45’ back extension. Read more here about how to perform back extensions.

  1. Stretch your hamstrings. 

    Most of the sedentary population dip their butts at the bottom of the squat and they often associate that with weak lower back muscles. This is not always the case–it can be caused by short, overactive hamstrings. If you suffer from posterior pelvic tilt, also known as the no-ass syndrome, you might want to read this article.

  1. Improve ankle mobility. 

    Perform seated calf raise with a 2210 tempo. By holding 2 seconds at the bottom, you can promote remodelling of the tight tissue holding you back from ankle flexion. Don’t know what the tempo means? Read about it here.

 

There you have it. Four simple ways to improve your squats, but first, do your split squats. Don’t know where to start or how to stretch? Book a complimentary session with a KX Exercise Coach to help you improve your flexibility and strength.

 

Train smarter, not harder.

Posterior pelvic tilt – the “no ass syndrome”

The general sitting population suffers from the  “no ass syndrome” (NAS). The NAS is unflatteringly but commonly paired with thoracic flexion (slouching of the upper back). This position increases the risk of herniation during lifting heavy (as well as light) objects.

How do we go about fixing this?

As usual, we assess and determine which muscles are locked long and weak and short and tight. We’ve written about structural balance here. The most commonly tight muscles in posterior pelvic tilt are the external obliques, rectus abdominis, glutes and hamstrings. Most importantly, the hamstrings insert above the pelvis and below the knee. The tension in the hamstring between the glutes and the calves, contributes to the “back sway” appearance.

How to fix posterior pelvic tilt, “no ass syndrome”

The hip flexors, notably the psoas and rectus femoris, tensor fasciae latae, spinal erectors will need to be strengthened and activated. Here are some exercises to lengthen and strengthen the corresponding muscles.

Piriformis stretching –  tight piriformis associated with posterior pelvic tilt can elicit sciatica-like symptoms.
Hamstring stretching – tight hamstrings are responsible for pulling the hips posterior.
Quadricep strengthening – strengthening the quadriceps will reinforce anterior pelvic tilt
Lower back strengthening with back extension and side planks. Read more about it at how to overcome low back pain here.
Thoracic spine mobilization – using foam roller. NAS is commonly paired with thoracic flexion. Mobilizing the thoracic spine will help take the thoracic spine out of flexion.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, get a professional functional movement assessment and appropriate Chiropractic treatment. Performing exercises which induce pain will only make the injury worse.

Train smarter, not harder.

Steady state cardio can make you fat

For the general public, most of us exercise to improve our physical appearance or improve general health and prevent disease.

What does the general population do to get to their goal? We often hear: running, cycling, swimming, or any other moderate-intensity, prolonged, steady-state aerobic activity. You can easily spot this demographic walking into any commercial or residential gym. Those who continue to run, swim, and cycle further and more frequently are losing muscle; and as it continues to  decline they’re (1) storing fat, (2) losing strength and (3) reducing their resting metabolic rate.

1. Prolonged cardio leads to excess cortisol.

During exercise, cortisol, a stress hormone, is secreted as soon as a workout starts and continues to rise until completion. This stress response creates a catabolic, “muscle wasting” effect. To have a muscle building effect, we want a high testosterone to cortisol environment, generally found in high intensity, short bouts of stimulus.

2. Prolonged cardio leads to loss in muscle mass.

Another way aerobic or endurance exercise leads to muscle loss. Jogging may be accelerating the muscle loss, fiber shift, and fat storage that’s normally associated with aging.

3. Prolonged cardio leads to decline in resting metabolic rate (RMR).

Most people continue to believe obtaining a better physique requires consuming less calories, burning more calories, or a combination of the two. Unfortunately, the body is a beautiful machine and can adjust for the low intake during caloric restriction or a high caloric output during exercise, further hanging on to fat to store for future needs. You are essentially making your body less efficient at fat burning and more efficient at fat storing.

Exercise to build, not to burn.

Individuals that work on building muscle always look better than those that focus on burning calories. Not only because a toned muscular body is more aesthetically pleasing, but because muscle increases our resting metabolic rate. At KX Yorkville, we believe we need the right amount of stimulus to allow the body to shed fat and obtain optimal body composition. Overtraining and undertraining will both lead to fat storing, under or overeating will also lead to fat gain. That’s why we are here to work with you to find the balanced equation, specific to your body type. Book a consultation with our Exercise Coaches to get started.

 

Train smarter, not harder.

Optimizing performance with pre workout

There are many different supplements marketed as performance enhancers in the world of sports nutrition. Among the list of popular pre workout supplements, there are: nitric oxide, caffeine, creatine, glycerol and many more. Here are our top three favourite pre and intra workout supplements to take your results from 0 to 100.

  1. Beta alanine. Beta-alanine is the building block of carnosine, a molecule that helps to buffer acid in muscles, increasing physical performance in the hypertrophy and muscular endurance (60-240 second) range. Carnosine appears to be an anti-oxidant and anti-aging compound. Many people report to push an extra one to two additional reps when training between 8-15 repetition. Beta-alanine can also aid lean mass gain.
  1. BCAA. BCAA are specific amino acids that have the most significant role in stimulating protein synthesis. High quality BCAA should occur in a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine : isoleucine : valine. Supplementing on BCAA prevents damages to muscle during exercise, preventing muscle soreness and faster recovery.
  1. Electrolytes. When you shift to a low-carb diet, your body ends up excreting more sodium and water. This can lead to mineral imbalances, lower blood pressure and sluggishness. Supplementing daily with 3 to 5 grams of sodium and 2 to 3 grams of potassium allowed subjects who were exercising on a low-carb diet to maintain circulation and avoid losing muscle mass. Take electrolytes to get both sodium and potassium together. Cooking with meat broths and using Celtic or Himalayan salt on your food or add a pinch of salt in your water can also help.

Pre workout and intra workouts depends on your activity, program and end goal. Want to enhance your workouts and get results faster? Learn how to supplement with food and nutrients to improve physical performance and body composition. Book in with one of our exercise coaches for a complimentary assessment  to see how we can help.

 

What you need to know before starting a program

Most people we see want to drop x% of body fat and look good naked. Guess what? Your posture is half the battle.

A good trainer will be able to help you achieve your goal, but should also be able to identify, as well as modify exercises and correct structural imbalances to avoid potential injury. When a muscle becomes locked short and tight, the antagonist (opposite) muscle often becomes locked long and weak. For example, in the common slouching in front of the computer posture, the trapezius is ‘locked long’, eccentrically loaded and strained, while the pectoralis minor will be ‘locked short’, concentrically loaded and bunched. This creates imbalance in the body and increases fascial bonding and thixotropy of the surrounding intercellular matrix. In layman’s terms, the body often will reinforce these faulty recruitment patterns and lay down more collagen fibers around the awful position you sit in.

 

What is the danger of neglecting structural balance?

Now, imagine putting muscle on a structurally imbalanced person, lets say, with typical forward head posture from tight anterior chain, and weak, under active posterior chain. You will start building muscle on the imbalanced foundation, displacing the spine more anteriorly, and putting pressure on the joints and ligaments. The long and weak muscles will be weaker and the short and tight muscles will become tighter. poor desk posture

No one should be doing plyometrics if they are not structurally balanced or able to squat 1.5x their body weight. Maybe you’ll see it performed by Instagram “fitness enthusiasts”, but that typically does not work for the general structurally imbalanced population who are doing jump squats with underactive gluteuses who slouch in front of their desk 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

 

Our team of exercise coaches and therapists, we will help you reach your goals faster.

Do you experience nagging shoulder pain? Weak upper back? Tight neck or hips? We’ll fix that first. Before an exercise program is created, we first assess your structural balance with functional movement patterns and static posture. Then we send you off to our Chiropractor for an orthopedic assessment and spinal analysis. Using all the given information and your goals in mind, we then create a customized training program tailored for you.

 

So, will it take longer to reach my goal?

Absolutely not. Our clients typically drop 1-2% body fat every 2 weeks, demonstrate better posture, energy and lower their risk of injuries. If you want to experience it for yourself, come in for a complimentary consultation and a training session, on us. Limited spots available.

 

You’re only as strong as your weakest link. Train smarter, not harder.

 

Why women should lift weights

You’ve heard all the horror stories: lifting heavy weights make women bulky, it’s dangerous and it’s bad for your joints. These lies feed into the stereotypes that are preventing many women from experiencing the benefits of resistance training. Rest assured, weight training will not do any of these awful things to you.

Contrary to popular belief, lifting weights do not make women bulky or turn into hulk overnight. However, it will help you improve your posture, gain lean muscle mass, improve metabolism and body composition.

 

Five reasons why women should lift weights:

  1. Improve posture. By simply improving posture, you will look leaner and more confident. Pull your shoulders back and lengthen your spine.
  2. Burn more calories. The more muscle one has, the more calorie they burn at rest. Do you love food? We sure do.
  3. Bone and joint health. Resistance training is an excellent way to combat the loss of bone mass with age and lower the risk of osteoporosis. By activating and strengthening the muscles around your knee joint will prevent pain from walking up or down the stairs.
  4. Better shape. As you build muscle, your body begins to take shape.  You may lose fat and muscle tissue with endurance activities, but lifting weights will help you burn fat and gain or maintain lean mass for better body composition.
  5. Being independently strong. Lifting those grocery bags? Holding a toddler in each hand? No problem.

Where do you start from here?

Now that we’ve cleared the air about weight training, it’s up to you to make the decision to engage in a more beneficial form of fitness and take your body to the next level. Find an Exercise Coach to create a customized workout program for you. This will help you get rid of any imbalances causing aches and pains in joints and soft tissue, target areas you want to tone and build muscle and prevent injuries. Having an exercise coach will help you reach your goals sooner. Get started with our 12-Week Challenge to summer.

How to overcome a training plateau

You’ve been hitting the gym 3-4 times a week, training the same muscle groups on the same schedule, using the same weights. Perhaps you go to the gym and you train whatever you feel like doing that day without a program, but some days you can’t figure it out so you hop on the elliptical and ride for an hour. You’ve noticed your gains are diminishing. You’re not getting stronger, leaner, bigger or wiser. What should you do?

Here are our 5 steps to avoid training plateau:

  1. Alternate between volume and intensity. Volume is how much work is performed and intensity is how hard the work is. Volume causes burnout, not intensity.
  2. Change your routine after at least 4-6 workouts. The more advanced you are, the more frequently you need to change as athletes adapt to routines faster and novices require longer.
  3. Do not change your routine sooner than 4 workouts. You will not see results or adapt.
  4. Record your weights and follow the 2% rule. Add 2% more weight to the weight every set. Muscles require overload to adapt. You will be surprised how much faster you will start seeing results.
  5. Hire a trainer. Find someone knowledgeable to hold you accountable.

At KX Yorkville, we screen you for imbalances before we create your customized training program, as you are only as strong as your weakest link. Our trainers ensure the movements are executed safely, under the appropriate time under tension and pre-determined rest period, to ensure you see endless gains. Workouts are changed every 4-6 sessions for best results. Book a consultation today to learn how you can be our next transformation story.

 

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