New Years Resolutions

The new year is just around the corner which means that millions of people will be making goals to achieve in the next 365 days. One of the most common resolutions has to do with loosing weight and achieving “the perfect body”. Every year I hear countless amounts of people saying that they will loose the excess weight, they will build their muscles, and they will get the six pack they always wanted, but only a small fraction actually see any results. It is estimated that only 8% of people actually reach their New Years resolutions. Why is it so hard reach these goals? I have a few tips that will hopefully make it a little easier to stay on track.

My Personal Transformation @alec2austin

My Personal Transformation @alec2austin

The first thing we need to do is realize that small changes can make a big difference. Although you may have a big weight loss goal in mind, making a small change to your diet and exercise plan can make that once out-of-reach dream more attainable. Switching out a snack food for something healthier, not eating before bed, or even simply adding 20 minutes of cardio a few times of week can start the process of reaching your bigger health goals.

Another important idea to adapt when setting a resolution is that instead of just setting a goal, decide on what steps need to be made in order to reach that goal. Making a plan helps you better understand why kind of commitment it is to reach your “dream body.” It is A LOT of work and A LOT of commitment, but that still does not mean that it is unattainable. Once you plan out what needs to be done to loose that extra weight, you need to start applying the changes to your life, but not all at once. Making a lot of drastic changes in a short amount of time literally puts your brain and body into shock, which in turn makes these changes near impossible to adapt. So instead, apply one or two changes at first, and once you have adapted the new changes and turned them more into a habit, you can apply another change or two.

Jen Piccolo @jenthefitfoodie

Jen Piccolo @jenthefitfoodie

The last important thing to understand when making a resolution is that patience is key. Nothing happens over night, especially when it comes to weight loss or muscle building. There is no quick fix. Living a healthy lifestyle is just that, a LIFESTYLE. You have to adapt new habits to a point where you would rather go exercise than sit on the couch all day; you would rather eat chicken and vegetables than a Big Mac; you would rather go to bed than stay up late and watch movies. To some this may sound weird, but by adapting these habits, I have never felt better in my life. I am happier, I feel healthier, I have more energy, I am more productive, I have better focus, and overall live a more fulfilling life.

Think of it this way… If you have a resolution to lose 50 pounds in the new year, that may sound like a big almost impossible obstacle to overcome. 50 pounds?!?!…. That’s a small child! How can you do that? You have 365 days to reach this goal; 12 months to lose 50 pounds. This actually comes out to about 4 pounds every month or 1 pound a week. Now doesn’t that sound a little easier to do? If you set small shorter goals such as “I want to lose 4 pounds in January,” all of a sudden that big intimidating goal now seems way more doable.

Know that you are not alone and that we all are still trying to achieve our dream bodies. There are resources everywhere to help you get where you want to be. I know you can do it!

I hope this article helps you make next year the best year yet! I will help in any way I can and I would love to hear about your progress. Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, ideas for new topics, or updates on your personal fitness successes.

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Shoulder Pushups

Shoulder Pushup: Step 1

Shoulder Pushup: Step 2

This is the first step in the progression toward achieving Handstand Pushups. To achieve a Handstand Pushup, you must have great shoulder, back, and tricep strength, but also a good core strength to maintain your balance while on your hands. Shoulder Pushups are an excellent way to start strengthening these muscles.

To Perform Shoulder Pushups:
1. Start in a Normal Pushup Plank Position
2. Walk your hands back and lift your hips toward the ceiling to create an upside down ‘V’ position with your body. Keep your legs and back as straight as possible and stay up on your toes.
3. Bend at the elbows and lower so your head is just above the floor.
4. Push back up to return to the V position.
5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 for the allotted amount of reps.

TIPS:
1. Keeping your back and legs straight will help engage the proper muscles during this exercise. Most of the work should be done by your shoulders, however you will also feel your lats activating if done correctly.
2. Focus on keeping your hips up toward the ceiling. Don’t let them droop!
3. Keep your neck in line with your spine. Don’t lift your head to look at the floor. That will cause unnecessary tension.
4. Try doing 3 sets of 10 reps at first and build your way up to 3 sets of 20 reps. Once you can do 3 sets of 20 reps, increase the difficulty by trying Elevated Shoulder Pushups (Put your legs on a bench or table).

Have you tried Shoulder Pushups? Are you working on getting handstand pushups? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, stories, or ideas for other topics.

Rolling Pistol Squats

Rolling Pistol Squat: Step 1

Rolling Pistol Squat: Step 2

Rolling Pistol Squat: Step 3

Rolling Pistol Squat: Step 4

Rolling Pistol Squat: Step 5

One of the benchmark exercises to do in any CrossFit gym is a Pistol Squat. Pistol Squats involve only using one leg to squat down and push back up to the standing position. This exercise is very difficult and requires a lot of practice and strength to complete. Rolling Pistol Squats are an easier variation of the standard Pistol Squat because they allow you to use momentum to your advantage. Rolling Pistol Squats are also a great cardio and full body workout.

To Perform a Rolling Pistol Squat:
1. Start in the standing position with both feet on the floor.
2. Squat down with your glutes as close to the floor as possible and create a comfortable curve in your back to prepare to roll backward.
3. Roll backward onto your back and raise your legs in the air.
4. Using the momentum of throwing your legs forward, place one foot on the ground as close to your glutes as possible with the other leg straight out in front of you and stand up.
5. Once standing, put the leg that is straight out in front of you back down to return to the standing position.
6. Repeat the exercise from Step 2 and alternate legs with each rep.

TIPS:
1. When I roll backward, I like to keep my legs straight and bring my legs as close to my chest as I can. I give them a light pull with my hands and this allows me to give my hamstrings a stretch.
2. The closer you can place your foot to you glutes when you role forward, the easier it will be to stand up.
3. Momentum is key! Quickly bring your legs forward to make the push up from the floor easier.
4. For anyone with a knee or hip injury, any variation of a pistol squat is not recommended. Never do a workout that causes you pain. Listen to your body!
5. Rolling Pistol Squats are great to help tone your legs, but they also wok your core and provide a good cardio workout as well. I like to use Rolling Pistol Squats in between other exercises to keep my heart rate up. I usually do about 16 reps per set (8 on each leg), and about 3-5 sets during my workout.

Have you ever tried Rolling Pistol Squats? Do you plan on adding these to your workout routine? I really appreciate any feedback. Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com.

Are you new to the Gym?

Alec Varcas Bicep

I was recently asked to do a post for people who may just be starting out the gym or who may be considering adding exercise into their daily routine. Most people have the same feeling when they join a gym… “What do I do?” You don’t know what exercises to do, you are scared people will judge you, and you don’t even know what your body can handle doing. This post will hopefully ease some of those worries you may be having and give you some tips on how to get a good start at the gym.

First of all, realize that people are not judging you. I personally am proud of you for wanting to make this change in your life! Getting the motivation to go to the gym is the first big step towards achieving a healthy lifestyle. We all started somewhere and we all know exactly what it feels like when you take your first few steps into the gym. We all are in the gym for the same reason, to improve ourselves! I have nothing but respect for everyone who takes time out to make exercise an important aspect of theirs lives.

Now, what do you do at the gym? You walk in and see a ton of different types of people, hundreds of machines and weights, and you honestly don’t know if you should just walk in with your chin held high, run and hide in the locker room, or just turn around and never come back. My suggestion is to first, put your stuff down in the locker room and then ask one if the gym employees to give you a tour of the gym. That is why they are there… to help you! Take a quick look around and learn about the different areas and exercise equipment the gym has to offer! ASK QUESTIONS! If you do not understand something, ask the employee while he/she is guiding you around. The more you understand and grasp now, the better!

I burned 921 calories in an hour...

I burned 921 calories in an hour…

Once the tour is over, it is now time to try out some of the equipment. I personally would suggest starting with an easy stretch in an open area somewhere, and then I would try using one of the cardio machines. Most gyms have treadmills, ellipticals, stair climbers, etc. and they are all pretty easy to use and understand. These are great to start with not only to get your body warm, but after using one of these machines for a while, I promise you that it will calm you down. You will feel less nervous about exploring the gym and trying out some new machines!

Ok, cardio is over; now it is time to do some muscle training. If you are really not familiar with weightlifting at all, try some of the machines the gym has to offer. If the gym is kept well, all of the weightlifting machines should have directions on how to perform the exercise and it also shows you which muscles the machines target. Start with the machine on a low weight and see if the motion is comfortable. If you believe you understand how the exercise is done, adjust the weight to a more proper resistance and try doing 3-5 sets of an exercise at the machine. If you have any questions, feel free to ask the staff at the gym, or even some other people working out. I have never come across a horribly rude person in a gym that is not willing to help.

Try out a few different machines, and when you feel like you your muscles are pretty tired and you worked them pretty well, it is time to call it a day… you will probably be sore tomorrow :-). Congratulations! You survived your first gym trip!

Now as you are recovering from this gym shock you just put your body through, you should now start researching different exercises you can do at the gym. You have see what machines and weights your gym has to offer so look up some different exercises you can do to target the areas of your body you most want to fix. There are thousands, if not millions of websites and videos offered online. I have been working out for a few years now and I still find workouts from blogs and videos that I would like to try. The more research you do, the more options you will have at the gym!

Now if you are really looking to make some fast progress and would like to do your absolute best at the gym, I HIGHLY recommend getting a personal trainer. A personal trainer can make a plan for you that directly reflects the goals you are trying to achieve. A good personal trainer will be able to keep changing up your routine in order to confuse your muscles and get good results quickly. A great personal trainer will also be able to give you diet and nutrition tips to practice outside of the gym to boost your results even more. Yes, a personal trainer can be expensive, but a few sessions with a great personal trainer can help you get into a proper routine to improve your health and quality of life in the long run. On a good note, if you are not sure about a personal trainer, some gyms actually give a free session with a trainer for signing up, and many personal trainers may work with you for a little time to see if you like their suggestions before you make any commitment to them. Try out a trainer! If you figure out that a trainer is not for you and you are more comfortable on your own, then at least you tried and now you know how you prefer working out!

I hope these tips will help you feel a little more comfortable about joining the gym! Don’t be afraid because there is nothing to be afraid of! If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com