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Cutting Out the Unnecessary: Simplifying Your Life

When it comes to health and fitness, there are MILLIONS of options and choices of complex routines, diets, and exercises plans out there. With this multitude of regimens we may find ourselves jumping from one complicated workout and diet plan to the next, just so we can feel like we are, at least, accomplishing something. Whether we are wanting to get bigger muscles or lose fat, we may be finding ourselves spending countless hours scouring the web, reading article after article, clicking on whatever page that has the most appropriate headline promising to help you achieve this look or that, BUT…to no avail.

So let us discuss a simpler plan that we all can adhere to, as well as be excited about performing. If you are trying to get rid of that stubborn fat or tone up a certain part of your body, start by simplifying. Simplify your exercise and diet plan. Throw away your chaotic plans and start fresh with a simplified version.

But, how…? You may be wondering. So let’s break this thing down into its most simple form, let’s start with our caloric intake and diet.

If you are wanting to lose weight, we need to consume less, and if we want to gain weight we must consume more. So start by tracking your calories for a few days so you have an estimate of what you’re eating and how many calories you’re putting into your body.  Use a free app like MyFitnessPal to keep things easy.  Once you know how many calories you are eating, it’s simple: consistently eat more or less depending on your goal.  If you want to lose weight, you need to eat LESS.  If you want to gain weight, then you need to eat MORE.  Step on the scale once a week and then adjust your calorie intake depending on whether it’s moving in the right direction. Try to stick to no more than a weekly variance of 1-2% of weight gain or weight loss, depending on what direction your goals are. Small increments of changes on a consistent basis will be better for us physiologically as well as mentally. By not making huge changes we are able to reassess and make gradual adjustments as needed.

Now let us move into talking about exercise. For those that are not training for the olympics or for specific physical events, we are able to fluctuate our weight according to our goals by adhering to the previous mentioned diet simplifications as well as a nice moderate to light, weight-training program. For the most part, health maintenance can be done with only a few days of quality exercises a week, but you’ve got to make sure you’re getting into the gym or finding the time to do a home workout.

You’re busy and you’ve got plenty of things that can distract you from your training on any given day. Obligations come up or on some days you’re just too tired; there will always be another excuse between you and your next workout. But there’s one thing that will dictate your success in your weight training above all else. Consistency! You must be consistent in your training to continue making progress and getting stronger. When the rest of your life gets complicated use these next ideas to simplify your workouts and focus on what’s most important.

When we are thinking about our exercise routines and programming, always remember your ABC’s. NO, not just the alphabet song from grade school. The ABC’s for fitness are Aerobic exercise, Building strength exercises, and Care exercises that give quality attention to the soft connective tissues.

Our Aerobic exercises are going to be the movements that we can do for extended periods of time with minimal rest. We should be careful with this type of training to not rely on the incorrect views of our culture that believe this is the best way to lose weight, as it is not always true! But it is an integral part of our personal health and fitness, benefiting our circulatory, respiratory, and cardiovascular systems.

Next is the Building strength part of training, which is the number one way to manage your body composition. This means strength training is regarded as the best type of exercise whether we are looking to lose weight or gain muscle. This type of training will be the workouts that are done with body weight as well as weighted movements. This type of exercising has some of the most misguided information on types, movements, times, and the numerous amounts of other variables.  

Don’t worry about reps and sets in this range, but just listen to your body and keep the movements to a timed limit. When performing a strength exercise always try to keep the time-under-tension, meaning the full amount of time required to move the weight through eccentric and concentric phases or the full range of motion for that movement, under 60 seconds, 30 second, or 12 seconds. Try alternating these amounts of times, adjusting the amount of weight used: 60 seconds will be your light weight, 30 seconds a moderate weight, and 12 seconds your heavier weights. This will allow your body to enter into different metabolic phases and benefitting the muscle in a variety of ways.

Next is Care. Caring for our connective tissue is probably one of the harder things to remember to do because it requires less movement and more mental fortitude of consistency.  Care for your muscles, joints and soft tissues through regular movement and daily stretching is essential for feeling agile and energetic. Yoga, foam rolling and stretching exercises along with getting up and out of your chair to move every 30 minutes are simple ways you can care for your body.

Now you are set for following your ABC’s of fitness. For more information on movements and medleys reach out to a health and fitness professional. You can also contact us through triviumfit@yahoo, or directly by phone at 314.210.2680.

 

What’s So Fascinating About Fascia and SMFR

In this article I wanted to talk about some of the benefits of self-myo-fascial release also known as SMFR, as there is a lot of “FAKE NEWS” running around in regards to how to treat your fascia. Many of you may be wondering what your fascia is, so let us begin describing our fascia a little more. The fascia is an inter-connecting web, covering and penetrating every, muscle, bone, nerve, artery, and vein, along with every internal organ. The fascia is one of the most intriguing body parts, as it is in every one of us; one giant continuous structure, that connects every muscle in our body. Fascia is the soft tissue portion of the connective tissue in the muscle that provides support and protection, and it can become restricted due to overuse, trauma, and inactivity, leading to inflammation and potential injury.

 

So if the fascia is so large and important, you must be wondering why we haven’t heard much about it or why there is not scientific evidence in regards to how to take care of it. The answer is quite simple as we still don’t know a lot about it, which leads us down a corridor of confusion, contradiction, and fad ideas on how to benefit from the mechanisms of how it works.

 

With the new concepts of its increased importance of having healthy muscle fascia, surrounded by physical properties we have yet to be able to fully understand, comes an open window blowing in hot air concepts of how we should be treating it. Too often I see health professionals and health enthusiasts pushing a mindset of “NO PAIN, NO GAIN”, although this can be used to help you push harder, longer, stronger, it may not be the best slogan for a realist. This idea can cause damage and leave you with an injury that could work its way up your kinetic chain, causing a domino effect. This could sideline you for an extended period of time, or even in some cases, cause permanent damage.

 

The “NO PAIN, NO GAIN” slogan has picked up momentum in the SMFR community as a way to treat sore or injured muscles, but this theory is wildly inaccurate and detrimental to one’s overall fitness. “Smashing” your tissues cannot and will not fix any injury or muscle soreness. There really is no need to cause severe pain to achieve SMFR benefits. There is no time or place to smash healthy fascia, let alone an injury. This type of thinking would be synonymous to shooting yourself in an injury as to heal this specific spot faster. Force applied to an already torn down tissue will not create a beneficial environment, in any scenario.

 

This leads me to the topic at hand on how to perform SMFR appropriately. Self-myofascial release (SMFR) is a technique that uses foam rollers and exercise balls (among other things) to attain a deeper stretch than what you can achieve from standard stretching techniques.

 

After extended use of muscles in specific movement patterns, your muscles can develop calcium build up from repetitive breaking down and repairing of that tissue. When the movement patterns are not consistently changed there becomes a chronic healing in the same muscle site time and time again. SMFR techniques work to reverse this process, and can be used both prior to a workout and as part of the recovery process. The process is simple: for instance, in the foam roller technique, the roller is rolled under each muscle group until a tender area is found, and then pressure is maintained on that area for 30 to 60 seconds. Here are some of the biggest advantages to incorporating SMFR into your workout routine.

  1. Increased flexibility and improve joint range of motion: One of the main benefits of SMFR is in the area of overall flexibility. Rolling on a foam roller kneads muscles and soothes joints, which not only keeps muscles from tightening up but actually stimulates a greater range of motion throughout the body. The deep stretching involved in SMFR also lengthens muscles to further improve flexibility.
  2. Improved muscle balance: Using SMFR foam roller techniques not only feels great but it can actually correct any muscle imbalances in the body. In fact, recent studies have shown that by helping muscles to relax and loosen, SMFR removes all and any muscle restrictions that may have once been present, preparing the body for a workout and/or helping it to recover post workout.
  3. Decreased muscle soreness: SMFR can not only relieve muscle and joint soreness post workout, but it can actually prevent it when the technique is used before a workout. SMFR targets muscles and engages joints in a way that induces deep muscular relaxation. Used before a workout, it can balance hormones and keep lactic acid from forming, and used afterward, it can clear lactic acid, preventing the onset of soreness.
  4. Healthier blood flow: SMFR oxygenates the blood similarly to exercise but in a different way. By engaging muscular tension and releasing knots and stiffness, SMFR techniques actually open neural pathways and engage the organs as well as the muscles. This in turn stimulates lymph movement and increases blood flow, getting fresh healthy oxygen to all centers of the body.

Even though we are still unknowing of the mechanisms that lead to the benefits, there are studies to prove that this does work. The benefits of SMFR are many and in fact have the backing of the athletic community, as well. SMFR is used by strength coaches as well as certified personal trainers and athletes to lengthen muscles, increase mobility, oxygenate blood, remove muscle soreness, and boost fitness performances.

Wanting to Burn More Calories in the Gym While Maintaining Muscle?

Are you wanting to lose weight but still keep your hard earned muscle mass? Throughout the past decades there have been many new workout programs to do just that, but most people will continue to fail at them, because they do not want to stick to their diet or they get burned out on their cookie cutter program that was designed for someone else’s body type. What we need to realize is that there is no generic workout or diet plan that will work for everyone. We all have needs and they vary from person to person. In each exercise and diet regimen there needs to be a balance of healthy foods and good macros,  appropriate cardio, and resistance training designed by a professional for your specific needs.

Let’s begin talking about the most important and probably the most confrontational aspect – diet. With weight loss, you need to put your body in a caloric deficit, meaning you must consume less calories than you are burning, before you can see a difference. Even just cutting out a few hundred calories will help, if you do it for an extended period of time. It all depends on your goals and patience. Losing between 1-2 pounds per week is optimal. Of course there are ways to do it faster, like water cutting, or cutting out sodium or certain food groups entirely, but smaller proportion sizes are proven to work far better than limiting an entire macronutrient. This will help you maintain your diet as you are not completely cutting out certain foods. The longer you can go on this “diet” will prove that you are able to shift from an unsustainable dieter to a sustainable healthy eater.

Next item on the list is cardio. Good old cardio, don’t you just love it? Not! Cardio is a big player in the scheme of things but it is tedious. So, you have two main options. Either you can do steady state cardio or HIIT training by adding an elevated heart rate during while still performing strength movements.

Steady state cardio is the traditional way of training your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Most people connect cardio and weight loss with being on a treadmill for hours on end. You will burn calories this way, but it might take awhile to see results or you may plateau pretty quickly as extended durations of endurance training can teach the body how to be extremely efficient in its energy use. This means that long periods on a treadmill can teach your body how to use less calories, which is not a great thing if you are looking to shed some stubborn fat.

HIIT training is going to be where we will integrate strength training with periods of higher intensity movements as to elevate your heart rate to a specific range dependent on your expertise level, fitness level, and your specific goals. HIIT training can be a more intense workout but will always be relative to the clients fitness levels.  During this training type our workouts will be cut nearly in half, all while still maintaining a higher caloric expenditure, but also still allowing us to gain strength and muscle. A simple routine with HIIT for just 20 to 30 minutes can yield the same caloric results of a 70 minute treadmill workout and the same strength gains as a slow 90 minute weight routine.

The final subject is resistance training. This is what will develop and maintain your skeletal musculature. Needless to say, if you want to maintain muscle while losing weight, you will need a lifting routine. Performing more strength movements than endurance exercises, in the long run, will help burn more fat and build muscle leading to a healthier body composition.

During any regimen that is designed for you to lose weight you need to be aware of two things: 1. Resistance training is physically and mentally challenging. 2. It is unrealistic to think you will maintain all of the muscle you have, If you are losing body weight. This is just the physiological way humans use the energy we have stored in our body’s. That is why I always design programs to have either strength or HIIT exercise routines in them. Never should your regimen only consist of cardiovascular training.

So how do you put all of this together? I will give you a an example of how to structure it all throughout the week.

Day one – Steady state cardio for 45 minutes

Day two – Legs , HIIT session

Day three – Chest and shoulders

Day four – rest day

Day five – Back and arms, HIIT

Day six – Core and accessory work, steady state cardio for 45 minutes

Day seven – rest day

This is just an example of how to structure such a program. Remember to keep your diet in check as well. I encourage you to experiment with programming. Something may work for you while another may not. You don’t know until you try. Give this program example a try and see if works for you!

Remember that this technically is a cookie cutter program and that everyone should consult a fitness professional so that they can assist you in designing a personalized program that will better fit your body type and lifestyle.

 

Justin Crossland, CPT

Evolution of the Western Diet

We are in need of a whole new way to think about eating. We cannot continue down this same path without causing more harm. In the last 30 years of nutritional advice we have been left fatter, sicker, and more poorly nourished. This, in my eyes, is unacceptable in the 21st century. We have known for over a century now that our health is directly related to how and what we are eating; causing ailments including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and a specific set of diet-related cancers. This all almost invariably began to appear soon after people abandoned the traditional diet and way of life. And now it is time for a change, for a healthier you!

In the history of modern nutrition we have seen the war of macro nutrients: protein against carbs; carbs against proteins, and then fats against carbs. Each new decade seems to contradict its previous findings on nutrition and which nutrients are harmful; protein in the nineteenth century, fat in the twentieth, and it stands to reason, carbohydrates will occupy our attention in the twenty-first.

Meanwhile, in the shadow of these enormous implications, smaller battles have raged within the sprawling empires of the big three: refined carbohydrates versus fiber; animal protein versus plant protein; saturated fats versus polyunsaturated fats; and then deep down within the province of the polyunsaturated, omega-3 fatty acids versus omega-6s. Leaving us to now assume that even at lower levels, fat plays the role of a toxin in our dietary zeitgeist.

But it isn’t just the pseudoscience beliefs that have been pushed as fact, we also have big business to blame.The business model of the food industry is organized around “adding value” to cheap raw materials; its genius has been to figure out how to break these two big seeds down into their chemical building blocks and then reassemble them in gobs of packaged food products.

Our food system has long devoted its energies to increasing yields and selling food as cheaply as possible. It would be too much to hope those goals could be achieved without sacrificing at least some of the nutritional quality of our food.

Although an estimated 80 percent of cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented by a change of diet and exercise, it looks like the smart money is instead on the creation of a vast new diabetes industry. The mainstream media is full of advertisements for gadgets and drugs for diabetics, and the healthcare industry is gearing up to meet the surging demand for heart bypass operations, dialysis, and kidney transplantation.

People eating a Western diet are prone to a myriad of chronic diseases that seldom strike people eating more traditional diets. Scientist can argue all they want about the biological mechanisms behind this phenomenon, but whichever it is, the solution to the problem would appear to remain very much the same: Stop eating a Western diet.

By looking at what we know of human evolution and disease in relation to the diets that humans enjoy now and prehistorically, we can try to begin to truly understand the link between diet and disease in the Western world and move towards a greater knowledge of what can be defined as the optimal human diet.

In his theory of evolution, Charles Darwin gave a simple and logical explanation for the diversity and adaptability of species. Everything that used to be a mess of riddles and contradictions suddenly became comprehensible and coherent. The results of Darwin’s theory were enormous and have had a dramatic effect on theoretical developments within the field of biology. The theory of evolution has subsequently been applied to an increasing number of disciplines. And now we must begin to apply that theory to how and what we eat.

A Body in Motion, Tends to Stay in Motion

Are you looking to feel better, have more energy, or even just improve your overall quality of life? Just exercise.

Making it a regular part of your weekly habits, going to the gym can help put on muscle and trim away unwanted stubborn fat areas. Exercising can also have the added benefits of combatting certain health ailments.

A review on recent scientific research summarized the findings that exercise affects conditions including cancer, heart disease, dementia, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, obesity and high blood pressure.

Here is a short list of other ways that staying active can improve your life:

1. Improves Stamina

Aerobic exercise involves continuous, rhythmic physical motion. Aerobic exercises such as walking and bicycling improves your stamina by training your body to become more efficient and use less energy for the same amount of work. As your conditioning level improves, your heart rate and breathing rate return to resting levels much sooner from strenuous activity.

2. Strengthens and Tones

Exercising with weights and other forms of resistance training in an individualized program routine can help develop your muscles and improve bone density for increased strength and endurance. Your posture can also be improved as your muscles become more firm and toned. You not only feel better, but you look better, too!

3. Enhances Flexibility

Stretching exercises are also important for good posture. They keep your body limber so that you can bend, reach and twist. Improving your flexibility through exercise reduces the chance of injury and improves balance and coordination. If you have stiff, tense areas, such as the upper back or neck, performing specific stretches can help “loosen” those muscles, so that you feel more relaxed.

BE CAREFUL! The recent guidelines for stretching have changed. As new scientific research piles up, we are becoming aware the way we have been taught to stretch in the past can actually increase our likelihood of injuries. Make sure you are getting the best and newest up to date information on stretching from a certified professional.

4. Exercise improves mood

Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A gym session or brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.


The health benefits of regular exercise and physical fitness are hard to overlook. Everyone has the potential to benefit from exercise. At Trivium, we believe that a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Staying active and fit by following our helpful exercise programs and nutrition guidelines will help you to continue to reach your potential, not only with us here in the gym but also outside of the gym in your everyday life. Improved confidence and self-esteem are just added benefits of regular exercise. Physical movement and exercise are key compnents in your personal fitness journey, keeping you strong and fit will fundamentally change your life for the better.

 

5 Steps to Improving Your Workout Mindset

For many, exercise and eating healthy is not the problem. But no matter how religiously you stick to your diet and exercise, experts say, you’ll never make a permanent change to a healthier lifestyle without the right attitude. In the past, the way I have explained it to clients is a bit dualistic in that we have separated the mind and body. Our body does not tell us who we are but our mind does.

So if we continue to tell ourselves that we are Netflix watchers, or that fast food is an acceptable form of energy, or that we enjoy drinking alcoholic beverages every night then that is what we are going to do on a regular basis. If we aren’t quite ready to admit that out loud, our actions speak louder than our words. But if we are able to switch our thinking and say to ourselves that we are healthy, fit individuals, then this can help us dedicate much more of our time to these endeavors. By making this small change in thinking we have already invested a good portion of our thought processes towards a healthier lifestyle.

Here is a short list of tips on how to improve and keep the right mindset.

1. Love the process, love the pain.
Remember exercise isn’t just about loving the results. There will be a time period when results take much longer and stricter dedication. This is where many people begin to get burnt out. They hate the actual process because they are doing it for the wrong reasons. They only want to see the results and miss out on the process of the journey. If you think this way, lifting and eating will become boring and painful. This is a chance to be present and aware of your true potential – be patient, feel your body’s power and be thankful for the time we have with it. When you truly begin to push yourself, there will be pain and discomfort. Don’t shy away from this. Embrace the pain and view the process as a chance to slow down, an escape from the usual endless to-do lists. MAKE IT YOUR OWN!

2. Set a trigger.
A trigger is simply something that happens right before you perform a habit. For example; For many, getting into the car is a trigger to start the habit of smoking while driving. Having a trigger for exercise, especially when you’re first starting, can be incredibly helpful.

3. Change it up, try something new.
A lot of people become bored when they try to only run or only swim or do only a certain set of lifts. It’s better for your body (and more fun) to do a mixture of things. Jog one day. Rock climb one day. Do yoga the next. Play soccer the next. Dance wildly for 30 minutes the day after that. You get the idea. Diversify your environment too. Go to the gym, the park, the woods. Take a run with no set route. Try a new class in the gym you never thought you’d do.

4. Doing something always beats doing nothing.
People often don’t feel up to working out for an hour one day, so they don’t do anything at all. 60 minutes is not the magical number for a successful workout. Do something anything. Jog for five minutes. Do twenty push-ups. Just something.

5. Start small and don’t rush into it.
Too many people try to start exercising and become overly ambitious. They go through a heavy lifting regimen the first day, but its so hard and they’re so sore afterwards that they don’t want to do it ever again. Instead of doing this, start small. However small you think it is, it is still a macro change if you haven’t been doing anything.