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  • 16 Feb 2017
    Keeping a workout journal is one of the most effective ways to get the most from yourself in the gym and the weight room. Here’s how to maximize its use. Okay, so you’ve decided to fully commit to your goals in the gym, or you are frustrated with your lack of progress, or you’ve come to appreciate the power of logging your workouts, and you are ready to crack open the pages of your first workout journal. But where to start? What should you write out? There is literally no end to the amount of stuff you can throw into the pages of your workout journal. So much so, in fact, that you can quickly lose yourself in the minutae of detail if you let things get away from you. Here is what you should be keeping track of with your workout journal to insure maximum benefits while also helping to make the workout journaling habit a sustainable one. Sets/reps/weights. This is the foundation of your workout journal—the nuts and bolts of what make up your workout. Write clearly enough that you will be able to decode your scribbling next week, or next month, or even next year. (Trust me—you will come back and flip through these bad boys later in life. Usually with a lump of pride in your chest.) Make sure to get all of the essentials for your main lifts, including 1RM’s. How you felt that day. How is your body holding up to your workout routine? Feeling better than expected? Try to draw conclusions and connections from why you are feeling the way you are with your lifestyle choices. It’s easy to say that we truly understand how lifestyle affects our workouts, but until you see it written out on paper it’s easy to duck taking responsibility for those choices. Stress levels. Believe it or not, how stressed you are affects your workouts. Increased stress compromises your immune system, opens you up to increased likelihood of injury, and affects how long it takes you to recover between workouts. There will always be stretches of time in our lives where stress rears its ugly head—and while it may not always be our fault that it happened, it’s our responsibility to deal with it. How much you slept. Pound for pound sleep is the biggest performance enhancer out there. If it’s maximum recovery you want simply get 9-10 hours of sleep tonight. Seriously. It will outperform any supplement, any day of the week, and the best part? It’s free and utterly enjoyable. Getting adequate sleep also means improved cognitive function, better moods, and yup, better workouts. The term “win-win” has never been so apt. How you are eating. Almost all of us could stand to eat a little bit better. (And for some of us, a whole lot better.) The first key to making change, whether in the gym or in the kitchen, is having the self-awareness necessary to facilitate it. Using your workout journal as a de facto fod journal can help you shine a light on how you are actually eating, better informing your path forward. Your next workout. Now for the real kicker—use your workout log to write out tomorrow’s workout. This will help you stay more consistent, and it will also help you progress faster. Why is this? Because we are profoundly more ambitious with our training when planning it compared to the moments when we walk into the gym, and our brains are immediately scrambling for excuses to avoid the physical and mental stress to come. Use the workout journal as a checklist, a roadmap for your goals in the weight room.
    1616 Posted by Mike Nunya
  • 17 Mar 2017
    We all have big goals and dreams for our body. We want to be able to achieve superhuman feats of strength and power, while also having the health and well-being that comes from being physically active. But living in a world where everything has been made profoundly more convenient, from eating to work to even how we exercise, sticking to our fitness and workout goals is turning out to be harder than ever. Forget the overnight diets. The 6-minute abs. If you are serious about getting into better shape, if you are desperate to make working out a habit, and you want the windfall of benefits that come from being more physically active, than make sure you are doing these three fundamental things. Go into the gym with a plan. How often have you walked into the gym with a sense that you would do what you felt like that day? If you are like most gym-goers or athletes, this casual approach is taken far too often, and almost always at your own detriment. When we don’t have a plan for our workouts we are easily distracted, we cut short sets and workouts because we aren’t “feeling it”, and we let things like our friends at the gym and our cell phone gobble up valuable chunks of training time. Before you set foot into the gym write out the exercises, reps, weights, and the conditoning work you want to achieve that day down in your workout log. Not only will you have much better workouts, but you will avoid the idle time wasted chatting at the water fountain. Have a clearly defined goal. One of the fastest ways to give your training more purpose and meaning—and thereby make yourself more likely to stick to it—is to have a realistic and clearly defined goal. After all, working out is difficult. It goes against our natural default setting of doing nothing. Remember: we are programmed for necessity and to take the path of least resistance. Having a clear, over-riding goal for our time in the gym will help you maintain workout motivation on those days when the last thing you want to do is hit the gym. Drop expectations of progress and focus on the routine. If you really want to achieve your workout goals you need to stop thinking so much about them. One of the most common pitfalls everyone encounters when chasing improvement in the gym, whether an Olympic athlete or someone trying to drop 5 pounds, is that moment when we feel like things aren’t happening fast enough. We’ve worked hard for a couple weeks and have barely improved under the bar. We’ve stuck to the nutrition plan and not lost the weight we expected. The reality is that we are brutal at guesstimating how long it is going to take in order to achieve our goals. Instead of getting frustrated by focusing only on the results, make sure that you are consistently dialed in on improving your daily routine.
    550 Posted by Mike Nunya
  • 02 Mar 2017
    One of the essential components of competitive swimming is a solid set of swim goggles. Along with your bathing suit, goggles form part of the “uniform” of your local lap and competitive swimmer. Goggles are a relatively new invention, only popular amongst elite swimmers since the mid 1970’s when a British breaststroker named David Wilkie put on a cap and set of goggles at the Commonwealth Games. Swimming goggles are more critical than we realize, however. For starters, goggles help us to see properly under the water. The human eye is not designed to see well under the water, and goggles will help us to see other swimmers, the black line at the bottom of the pool (so that we can circle swim properly), and the upcoming walls. Secondly, and this goes more to our health, goggles protect our eyeballs from the redness and irritation that arises when they interact with chloramines over the course of our swimming workouts. What are chloramines? The result of chlorine interacting with human feces, urine and sweat. Yup, that’s gross. Here’s what ya need to know when trying to pick out a perfect pair of swimming goggles: Choose your goggles by tint and color of lens. One of the things you should absolutely keep in mind when picking out goggles is choosing a tint or lens color that matches up with the environment you are swimming in. Are you swimming outdoors? Pick out a pair of goggles that are darkly tinted or that are mirrored. This will help cut down on the glare, and also help you to see when swimming backstroke and have your face pointed at the sun. Many, if not all, mirrored goggles also have UV-protection. Are you swimming indoors? Choose a lens that is clear or lightly-tinted. Choose comfortable lens. Beyond the color of the lens make sure that the ocular part of the goggles sits comfortably in your eye sockets. Most goggles have rubberized linings around the lens that will help buffer the pressure of wearing them for extended periods of time. Swedish goggles, one of the more popular types goggles, have lenses that are made strictly of hard plastic, making them not advisable for beginner swimmers. Don’t buy into the anti-fog myth. Every goggle manufacturer, from Arena to Speedo to Nike, will tell you that their goggles are anti-fog. And this is true, for about two weeks of use, at which point the anti-fog will wear out and you will be struggling to see through a film of sweat, beaded water, and fog on the lens. This is where choosing a goggle tint comes in particularly handy, and why you should stick to lighter lenses if you are swimming at an indoor pool. My local YMCA pool, for instance, is poorly lit, making any of my dark or mirrored goggles nearly worthless in use. You shouldn’t have to spend the duration of your swim taking off your goggles at the end of each length in order to see the pace clock and dodge other swimmers.  
    513 Posted by Mike Nunya
  • 18 Jul 2017
    Thinking about picking yourself a brand new racing suit for yourself or for the competitive swimmer in your life? Here are three things to keep in mind when shopping for a new tech suit: Each racing suit has varying amounts of compression. One of the big features of the racing suits is their compression benefits. What happens is this: the suit squeezes your skin with varying degrees of pressure, helping to circulate blood to specific areas. The reason for this? When we are swimming at top speed in competition, and our leg muscles are dying for more oxygen, the compression helps to push more oxygenated blood to areas that need it most. While there are recovery benefits to compression (actually—the evidence supporting this is more robust compared to the performance benefits), the reasons swimmers should seek a suit that is tight is that it will help you maintain a better body position in the water. One of my favorite tech suits, the Arena Carbon Pro jammer, for instance, has “stiffer” compression that makes my kicking feel border-line effortless. A good rule of thumb for swimmers looking to buy a new jammer: the more compression the suits offer, the shorter the events and the less turns you want to have to perform. High amounts of compression are better suited for sprint events, while a lighter compression squeeze is more suitable for longer events. It’s made of fragile lycra. One of the banes of the life of a competitive swimmer is the short shelf life of the average racing suit. Depending on how well the suit is cared for, swimmers can expect to get about 20-30 races out of a racing suit. The reason that they degrade so quickly is that one of the main fabrics used in their construction is lycra or spandex. Racing suits vary in their amount, from around 30-40%, while the rest of the suit is usually constructed of nylon. Lycra is sensitive to chemicals, particularly solvents, and guess what pools are almost always treated with? Chlorine, a world-class solvent. In order to lengthen the life of your racing suit, rinse it out with cold water after each of your sessions of competition. Don’t throw it in the dryer, or even hang dry it. (These things are that sensitive to wear and tear.) After rinsing it out, wrap in your towel and air it out when you get back home or to your hotel. The suit dries quickly, and unless you leave it wrapped up in your bag will dry out within a couple hours. Do your research. Even though almost all racing suits are made of the same core materials, and while they may look the same, the cuts and fit of each suit vary by manufactoruer and even line of suit. The Arena Carbon series, for example, have a line of three different suits that all have different features. They don’t even fit the same. While the Pro is a stiffer and tighter fitting suit, the Flex and the Air are both designed for greater range of motion. (Hint, hint: breaststrokers and individual medley specialists should stick with the Flex or Air.) Fortunately, there is a ton of jammer reviews and information online from fellow swimmers who have purchased and raced in the suits you are thinking about picking up. Search the swimming forum in Reddit, and the reviews from sites like SwimOutlet to give you an idea of what to expect with the suit. Doing some research is especially key if you live in an area that doesn’t have a swim shop where you can try on your prospective suits.
    454 Posted by Mike Nunya

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Sports 538 views Mar 09, 2017
How to Fix & Prevent Swimmer's Shoulder

It’s the injury that is so common for swimmer’s that it is literally called “swimmer’s shoulder.”

Research performed by USA Swimming showed that 10% of current age group swimmers are presently experiencing some sort of pain or aggravation in their shoulders, while a whopping 26% of national level swimmers are having shoulder issues of some type.

For swimmers who have experienced it, whether as a chronic condition like I have, or in random, acute bouts, the injury can be frustrating, leaving you feeling hopeless, and cost you valuable chunks of training time.

But the good news it this—there are a ton of things that you can help ease the pain and also insure that you avoid injuring it again (or for the first time).

Here are a few ideas for fixing and preventing swimmer’s shoulder that have worked with myself (and my 20+ years of competitive swimming experience), as well as tips I have collected over the years from fellow swimmers and coaches.

1. Warm-up with fins.

Swimmers perform a metric butt-ton of meters in the water. From warm-up to warm-down, the pre-set and main set all combined it’s not uncommon for chlorinated athletes to log up to 8,000m in a single session. When you consider that a lot of that yardage is done with shoulders above your head, you can begin to imagine the stress and strain that we are placing on our shoulder joints.

A simple way to loosen the load that we lump onto our shoulders is to use swim fins during our warm-up. Not only will you help get your legs warmed up faster, but wearing fins during the opening set of the practice will help ease your shoulders into the workout.

2. Stretch your pecs

One of the big misconceptions with this particular injury is that we should focus all of our injury and preventative measures on the shoulder capsule itself.

But that’s not usually where the problem started, only where it ended up manifesting.

Swimmer’s shoulder is usually caused by muscle imbalances in the back, poor technique, and tight pectoral muscles from repeated use. You might be familiar with the rounded, slouched shoulders that many swimmers tend to have from swimming on their front for so long.

You can correct this before and after during your swim workouts by making sure to mobilize the chest area (which you probably already are with arm swings), while also performing chest stretches afterwards to keep them loose.

Additionally, you should hit a foam roller for 5-10 minutes after each session in the water to loosen up your t-spine. Not only is it a relaxing way to end your workout, but rolling out your t-spine will help keep your chest open and loose.

3. Train with a snorkel.

As mentioned earlier, one of the leading causes of swimmer’s shoulder is a muscle imbalance in the back and shoulders. This arises often from swimming predominantly to our dominant side.

So how can we correct this?

By taking our breathing patterns out of the equation entirely and training with a swimmer’s snorkel. By having your face down in the pool you will be forced to have a more balanced, even stroke (there are a ton of other reasons snorkels are awesome—from allowing you to swim with better hip position, focus on technique, and so on).

Evening out the musculature, and undoing the years of breathing to one side is not easy, but introduce some longer, easier reps of straight freestyle swimming with a snorkel in order to help begin the process of developing a more evenly strengthened back and stroke.

Other quick things you can do to help deal and avoid swimmer’s shoulder:

Kick more. The more you kick, the stronger your hip rotation, meaning you rely less on the shoulder and chest for propulsion, particularly at the front of the stroke. Developing a strong flutter kick is hard, and takes a lot of time on the kickboard, but beyond making you a faster swimmer it will also help lessen the load on your shoulders.

Stick to your pre-hab routine even when you aren’t injured. For most swimmers the moment they decide to get serious about when shoulder health is when they are banged up and injured. You’ll see them dutifully hit their internal and external rotator exercises on the band, and spend more time stretching. Make this stuff routine and not just a band aid, and you will be injured less often as a result.

In Closing

Being injured sucks. You know it. I know it. The bad news might be that you are having to spend some time on IR list, but the good news is that there are some powerful and proven things that you can do in order to make sure you don’t end up there again. Give a couple of these strategies a go over the rest of the training cycle or season and swim your way to healthier, stronger shoulders.