Local Health and Fitness Tips: Prezo Grille and Bar and Core Training

Prezo’s Health and Fitness Column

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS 

Decrease your waistline, strengthen your core and improve your overall health

 

                I have recently been granted the opportunity to provide a health and fitness piece for my favorite local restaurant….Prezo Grille & Bar! Prezo’s immediately became my “go to” for a great lunch and dinner, and for good reason. The extensive menu is crammed full of some of the tastiest dishes I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. The atmosphere is outstanding and the Prezo’s staff is second to none. And there is one more key factor that places Prezo’s head and shoulders above the rest (among the many more I didn’t mention like the amazing buffet, great bar and lounge, etc) …

As a Strength and Conditioning and Performance Coach with Momentum Physical Therapy and Performance Training in downtown Milford, I only have to travel a couple of miles to indulge in an extraordinary meal that is extremely healthy (unless I am out for a cheat meal, but that will be covered in a future post)! With a tasty, healthy meal I set myself up for an easier path to staying lean and fit. So let’s get to it and start from the beginning….An amazing Prezo’s appetizer that is kind to your waistline and health, followed by a few exercises that are far superior when looking to achieve the lean, strong midsection you truly want.

Better Beginning provided by Prezo’s

When looking for a great opening to your meal that is not only low calorie and nutritious but also extremely tasty, look no further than Prezo’s Thai Lettuce Wraps. Satayed chicken strips, carrots, bean sprouts, marinated rice noodles, lettuce leaves and three spicy Thai sauces…sounds pretty delicious and healthy (and trust me it is!). Let’s break it down and see how just how each of these ingredients will benefit your health.

1)      Chicken: A low fat, low calorie source of meat, chicken provides a significant amount of complete proteins that are critical for growth and repair of the body’s cells. The vitamin and mineral content of chicken helps to boost immunity, maintain a healthy nervous system and regulate metabolism…all of which are extremely important for a healthy, lean body.

2)      Carrots: Among the richest source of beta-carotene which aids in vision, healthy digestion and cancer prevention, carrots supply a significant amount of Vitamin A, C, E and K. The vitamin content helps to prevent heart disease, speed post exercise recovery (which is important for the exercises that follow), keep skin healthy, boost immunity and buffer the aging and damaging effects of free radicals.

3)      Bean Sprouts: As a rich source of amino acids, vitamins, minerals and fiber bean sprouts have a positive effect on cardiovascular health, digestion, liver health, stress reduction and energy levels among others. Not to mention they add a tender crunch to most any dish.

4)      Lettuce: Although lettuce has not been highlighted as providing a ton of nutritional power it does contain nutrients that play a key role in preventing birth defects and encouraging heart health (folic acid),maintaining fluid balance (potassium), bolstering immunity (vitamin C and beta-carotene) and also has been known to contain a natural sedative that induces sleep.

As you can see, the key ingredients in the Thai Lettuce Wraps at Prezo’s provide a substantial amount of health promoting nutrients that are delivered in a low calorie, midsection friendly, savory dish. Doesn’t get much better!

The top 3 exercises to strengthen and flatten your midsection

               

Now that you know which Prezo’s appetizer will be conducive to your health, fitness and midsection, lets cover the top three exercises you need to be doing in order to strengthen and trim that core…and you won’t find the classic “crunch” on the list.

In order to maximize core stability, strength and calorie burning you have to use as much muscle at one time as possible. For these reasons, the crunch is not ideal and is actually detrimental as it does not use the entire core as it is designed. The following exercises maximize core stability, strength and will require your body to burn way more calories than the common crunch.

Try performing the following three exercises one after another for 3 rounds as a quick core circuit or as an addition to your training program.

1)      Plank from Forearms               Hold for 30-60s

Tips: Keep your back straight, elbows right under the shoulders and don’t let the hips sag towards the floor.

2)      Side Plank           Hold for 30-60s per side

Tips: Keep your back straight, elbow right under the shoulder and don’t let the hips sag or bend.

3)      Anti-Rotation Press         10 reps per side (face the other direction)

Tips: Push the hands straight out from the chest and don’t allow the body to rotate by squeezing the core (stomach) and hips (butt).

 

Summary

Choosing the right opening to your meal at Prezo’s, and performing proper core training as described above will help you on your path to achieving a healthy, strong and fit midsection. Addressing nutrition and strengthening your core is the first step to optimal health, performance and looks…and Prezo’s and Momentum Physical Therapy and Performance Training are here to help you get started.

Leave your thoughts, comments and questions below and be sure to check back in for more nutrition, health and fitness tips in the next issue of Prezo’s Newsletter.

 

 

It’s All About Progression

 

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

 

When it comes to training, it is all about progression.

It is not about doing the most novel and sexiest exercises from week to week or month to month. It is about tailoring your program to your needs, goals and situational capacity (which takes into consideration your movement faults, conditioning, training age, etc).

If you can’t control a body weight squat you shouldn’t be loading up a barbell with hundreds of pounds and trying to “force” the squat to work…or even worse, messing around with an unstable surface while under load.

Please NEVER do this...

And to a lesser degree (at least from an injury potential stand point), your training program shouldn’t be changing or progressing for the sake of change/progression. Just because your program has been based on a four week schedule (and I hope you don’t actually think you can achieve the body of your dreams in 4 weeks as many claim!), if you have not mastered the movements (exercises) there is no need to change them.

Only when you become proficient with a movement should you progress it. This may take 2 weeks, 4 weeks or 2 months. It all depends on the individual. When you feel that it is time to progress, you do just that…PROGRESS the mastered movement.  Don’t simply change the exercise and movement completely and call this progress. Progress is building upon the movement that you have worked so hard to become proficient at.

This is where too many training programs go wrong. There is no actual progression, but rather just random exercise selection. Just because you have mastered a bodyweight squat doesn’t mean you throw out the movement and progress to the deadlift (although doing both within the same program is not a bad idea depending on your abilities).

Instead, build upon the mastered bodyweight squat by adding some load (not the entire set of weight plates), changing the position of the load  (goblet/front squat to back squat / offset, etc), changing the speed (making the squat more explosive rather than the general “slow and controlled”) or changing the stance (bilateral to split, etc).

A great progression to the mastered body weight squat...The Goblet Squat

Making these slight changes will provide a new stimulus for the body and will encourage continued progression. I am not suggesting to never change or add in new movements/exercises, but I am suggesting to exhaust the options with the current movement before trying to master fifteen movements in one month and fifteen the next.

Pick a couple movement patterns (squat, deadlift, lunge, push up, row, etc) and plan to master the basic movement before adding additional variables such as the external loads, offset loads, etc described above. Once you have become proficient with the movements, progress it. When you have mastered various degrees of the movement, then it is time to pick a couple more movements and master those.

Don't try to master too much at one time...

By doing so you will experience dramatic increases in movement efficiency which will allow you to work harder for longer and, most importantly, safer. When you can work harder for longer and in a safe manner you will more easily be able to reach all of your fitness goals (increased strength, power, agility, muscle gain / fat loss, etc). So don’t simply throw out perfected movements…PROGRESS them!

What Everyone Can Learn From CrossFit

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

In the November 2011 issue of Men’s Health a great article was written that covers the topic of CrossFit. I suggest you read the article here http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/cult-crossfit, but I will recap a few main points which provide support for one of the main philosophies behind Momentum Physical Therapy and Performance Training programs…individualized training.

If your program is not tailored to your goals and needs (training experience, movement flaws, capacity for training, schedule, etc) and is instead simply a general program for the masses, your results will be less than optimal and you will be at a greater risk for potential injury.

Training needs to be about YOU, not the masses!

So if you have ever thought about jumping on the “latest and greatest” training program, you may want to re-consider after reading a few key points below that describe the “Cult of CrossFit.” And don’t be fooled…this is not just an issue with CrossFit.

This same issue arises with many at home programs and DVDs as well as within many “performance training” or “strength and conditioning” facilities who do not take your individual needs into account. Instead, they throw you into a group fitness class that has everyone doing the same damn thing…this is where I could go on a tirade about “bootcamps,” but I’ll refrain.

One more everyone! Don’t stop ’til you rip that shoulder!

Let’s move on.

From the article:

POSITIVES (mostly)

-It is mentioned that the workouts are “short, intense and constantly changing.” This is good, except for the constantly changing piece. Repetition provides mastery, mastery provides results. You need to reinforce movements in order to become proficient at them and progress.

-Camaraderie amongst CrossFitters is outstanding, and “no one is allowed to quit.” Camaraderie is a great thing, but it can also be achieved in a setting where everyone is training accordingly and encouraging each other…not simply trying to push everyone to the point where breakfast ends up on the floor.

NEGATIVES

-The authors very first “Workout of the Day” (WOD in CrossFit lingo) consisted of 12 push-ups, 9 deadlifts with 225 pounds and 15 jumps onto a 24 inch box. He was to complete as many rounds as possible in 15 minutes…this was after an “assessment” consisting of running, jumping, rowing, squats and push-ups…I will ask, what was truly assessed before he was thrown into his first WOD?…Ya, not much other than his lack of cardiovascular conditioning.

-As the author pushed further into his WOD, he noticed that “Pushups around the room became increasingly bendy, jumps turned wobbly and deadlifts turned ugly.” Improper programming and fatigue bring about poor form / technique and will result in injury…never a good thing!

-Straight from the mouth of the founder of CrossFit…”If you came to me with a set of goals that looked like ‘lose the fat, improve my musculature,’ or ‘move toward a better aesthetic,’ I wouldn’t do anything differently for you if you came to me and said, ‘I want to improve my work capacity across broad time and modal domains.” No concern for individualization or your goals…doesn’t sound too promising!

This video says it all!

-“CrossFit’s one size fits all methods are flawed, perhaps dangerously so.” This from a previous owner of a CrossFit facility. When individuals push technically challenging exercises, form breaks down with fatigue and injury is all too often imminent.

-The author lost 7 pounds in 90 days on his Crossfit program and he explains, “The last thing I wanted to do was end up skinnier…at no point was I asked what my goals were. Nobody at my CrossFit gym knew about my weight loss, or cared.” With a generalized program, goals are lost in the shuffle…and not just with CrossFit.

It is my hope that you can see why the latest hypes in fitness are not necessarily the best program for you (in fact I would say are absolutely not the best for you). It was not my goal with this post to bash CrossFit (the article does that well enough), but rather to use this example as a way to again highlight the importance of individualized training.

Generic programs…like a shot to the face.

Without individualization, a training / exercise program will leave you frustrated, and at a greater risk for potential injury. Do not let yourself, or even worse, your children, fall victim to the latest craze or “coolest local facility.” Do your research and make sure the program is designed specifically for you! Don’t waste your time and effort on generic, one size fits all programs that leave you with nothing more than you constantly banging your head against the wall, and worse, a slip for physical therapy…although this may work to our advantage…but that’s not what Momentum is all about!

Got 15 Minutes?

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

Here’s a question for you…Why don’t you train as often and consistently as you should (and if you do, what do you think prevents others from doing the same)?

Well, I have heard it all…don’t know how to train, don’t like training, don’t have a place to train. But the number one reason I constantly hear as an EXCUSE…lack of time!

Time, precious time….

I do understand that time is hard to come by (but not impossible) for a full time parent with a full time job, a full time student with a job, or a student athlete who plays sports or partakes in other extra curricular activities with a full load of school work, practices and events. But what I can’t understand is how we can let this get in the way of our health, performance and fitness because, well, without your health you really have nothing.

And for this reason, I am here to tell you that you do have time to train (or exercise, whichever terminology you prefer) in order to create a sufficient stimulus to bring about positive health and fitness adaptations. These positive adaptations include, but are not limited to, enhanced strength, power and agility, improved cognitive abilities, a more efficient immune system, a stronger cardiovascular system, enhanced movement efficiency and injury reduction, reduced stress, improved psychological well-being and more.

And all of this can be achieved in 15 minutes per day. You don’t need fancy weight machines, expensive treadmills, ellipticals or bikes. You don’t need an intricate training program that has you completing 40 sets of exercises all designed to one body part and 2 hours at the gym. All you need is your own bodyweight, a little free space, 15 minutes and a bit of determination.

Try the following and enjoy a quick hitter that will force your body to adapt, grow stronger and have you on your way to healthier, performance based body. Always keep in mind proper movement and preparation throughout the entire 15 minutes!

Warm Up and Activation (5 Minutes)

                Side Lying Clam x10/side, Glute Bridge x10, Plank x 30s, Wall Slide x8, Jumping Jacks x 30s

*20 Bodyweight Squats (can perform squat jumps if conditioned) paired with 15 Push Ups (Elevate hands to make it easier or feet to make it harder) x 10 minutes

Go all out for 10 minutes, jump in the shower and get after the rest of your day. This can also be used as a planned off day program.

If you still don’t think you have 15 minutes, you need to take a step back and take a good long look at your life. I bet there is something that can/should be removed (TV time, Facebook posting, Tweeting, Texting or maybe even work itself) and replaced with a few short minutes of performance enhancing training. These 15 minutes a day will undoubtedly improve your health, performance and looks as long as the rest of your day is composed of healthy, performance based habits.

Time is no longer an excuse…take 15 minutes and get after it!

*You can and should perform other compound exercises on consecutive days or even perform another quick 15 minute session of different exercises within the same day for a bit more volume

Athlete of the Week

This past week there was one athlete who really stood out at Momentum. This guy came to Momentum with a little bit of injury history and was not even close 100% when he first started. He is just over two months into his training and it is hard to keep him out of Momentum. He is constantly asking if he can do a little extra, even after being “gassed.” Most Momentum Athletes have this same drive, but last week Matt Ferrelli really took it to another level…even coming in at 8am on a Saturday to make sure he got his training in before the Bruins game!

Check out Matt’s before and after pictures after only his first month of training!

Matt Ferrelli Before

Matt Ferrelli 1 Month Later…Good Stuff!

Matt takes care of business when at Momentum, constantly asks questions about his nutrition and off day training and consistently gets after it…That’s a Momentum Athlete for ya! Keep it up Matt.

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