Improve Your Work Productivity

Do you have poor posture?………

This is aimed at those who work in a corporate environment and are sat at a desk for 7 hours plus on a daily basis. We are a nation of poor posture and mechanically move in such a way that doesn’t resemble a healthy muscular and skeletal structure.

For those of you in an office environment, poor posture is emphasized. You only have to glance over to your colleague and see hoe internally rotated their shoulders are (looks very similar to slouching, but their shoulders are pulled forward in this case). Over time you will notice individuals with a “hump back” which is lengthening the upper back. This can over-stress the lumbar spine which will stress discs the make up the cervical and thoracic regions of the spine.

Having poor posture at work will create small niggles that will decrease your productivity. Sitting all day with a sore back is not nice but will also see your productivity levels plummet. At Weights 4 Women we believe you should be happy in and out of the gym, as most of your time will be spent away from the free weights and cardio equipment.

All is not lost, I am going to give you 3 bits of advice to help you get your posture back in control.

1) I have mentioned this exercise in the past, the band pull apart. Thera bands can be picked up in many shops and I have also seen them in large supermarkets in the past.

Take hold of the band at arm’s length around shoulder width apart. Keeping your arms straight pull the band apart till it is stretched across your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together.

I like to use a fast (ish) concentric (pulling the band apart) and a very slow and controlled eccentric (taking the stretch away from the band and returning to the start position). After the concentric phase when you’re in a fully stretched position, hold the contraction for 2 seconds!

3-4 sets of 15 reps / 2-3 times a week

For a picture demonstration of the band pull apart, be sure to check out previous Weights 4 Women article here – http://www.weights4women.com/improve-your-posture-the-band-pull-apart/

2) If you train in the gym, for every chest movement you do, Include 2 back exercises. This well help to strengthen the weaker muscles in the upper back and the rear deltoids helping to pin your shoulder blades back.

3) Stretch your chest and shoulder muscles multiple times throughout the day. I like to use the door frame stretch for this. Stand in between a door frame, resting your arms at shoulder height at each side of the door frame. Keeping your arms in place, step forward till your arms are behind you. You should feel a strong stretch across your chest and shoulders.

Hold for 15-20 seconds, 3-4 times.

3 Tips for a Toned Look

The toned look – you need some muscle to begin with………

I am briefly going to go over some fundamental differences between male and female training. A large percentage of the clients I have worked with are female (hence why I started Weights 4 Women) and the mistakes I see are the same time after time. Achieving a toned look requires a slightly different approach than what a male counterpart would do. This has a lot to do with the hormonal differences between men and women, but for this article I am going to focus on 3 points you can start to implement straight away.

1) To achieve the toned look, you need some muscle to begin with

When trying to achieve a toned look, most women mean they want some shape to their body. This requires that you aren’t carrying excess body fat and you have some muscle.

Now to achieve this “desired shape” you first need some muscle and muscular definition. There are many women who come from dancing and gymnastic background who have a very solid base of muscle, it’s just usually covered by body fat. We have two options for most women, decrease body fat or increase lean muscle tissue and sometimes a combination of both.


2) Heavy weight and lower reps should be prioritised for muscle tone

To achieve a “toned” look women have to use heavy weights and intentionally try to move the weight fast during the concentric phase (e.g the pressing stage of a bench press). This increases the amount of motor units recruited to perform the movement. Without heavy weights there is not enough mechanical stress for the body to recruit and utilise the motor units available. Without this recruitment you will very unlikely achieve a toned look. Now the problem with this is that muscle tone has nothing to do with how your muscles actually look, muscle tone in its real form refers back to medical terminology and the continuous and partial contraction of the muscles. Emphasis should be placed on using the correct technique for both beginners and advanced lifters.

3) Multi-jointed compound movement should make up the bulk of your training

Focusing on machines will not generally help you in your fight to losing body fat and achieving the look you want. There is still a consensus that if you train a muscle directly the body fat covering that area will also be targeted. This is largely a myth that has been hanging around a long time and won’t go away. Problem is with machines such as hip adduction and abduction is you are actually making the muscle bigger and not reducing the body fat in that specific region. This is the opposite in what you are trying to achieve. Instead focus on movement that work multiple joints and muscles at the same time. This will produce the most beneficial metabolic and hormonal response to reduce body fat.

Want help losing body fat? Read Weights 4 Women – 5 common fat loss mistakes here: http://www.weights4women.com/5-common-fat-loss-mistakes/

WBFF Figure Pro Tania Clark – Weights 4 Women Interview

weights 4 women

Weights 4 Women introduces WBFF athlete…….

Welcome to Weights 4 Women Tania! Introduce yourself and give us a bit of background information on how you was introduced to weight training?

A little bit about myself. I am a Figure Pro Diva model and athlete with the WBFF.   My biggest job is a mom, wife of 19 years, accountant and Paleo nutritionist all rolled up into one.   I have been studying Paleo for over 3 years and absolutely love it! I love sharing recipes so below is one of my favorites at my house. My passion is to empower others to eat healthy for a lifelong success no matter the fitness level.

What is your favourite food / recipe?

Paleo Banana Pancakes

3 very ripe bananas

3 eggs

½ cup almond or cashew butter

1 tbsp chia seeds

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp chopped walnuts (Optional)

Coconut or Ghee for frying

Take all ingredients (except nuts) and place in food processor or blender and mix until batter consistency. Next fold in nuts if you want to include them. Pour into hot skillet with coconut oil or ghee and cook about 3-4 minutes each side on medium-low heat. Cooking tip: I usually take an ice cream scooper or you can take a measuring scooper as well to measure out the pancakes to make them close to same size especially if you are counting macros and want the exact servings.   These make around 6-8 pancakes. No syrup needed for this recipe and serve with some organic turkey or beef bacon for some added protein. Enjoy!

Who inspires you?

My true inspiration comes from by mom. She is a driven individual that taught me determination and drive to go after your goals. I am so much like her and so thankful. She amazes me at age 82 still works full time with children and walks every morning.   My superhero!!


What`s your favourite exercise?

Wow that’s a hard one! I have many that are my favorite! If I had to pick one it would be shoulders. I usually train them twice a week with one session focusing on more presses and front delts and the other session on lateral raises and rear delts. Also for fat burning fun I enjoy circuit training classes, plyometrics or HIIT either on my hill at home or treadmill at the gym a couple of times a week. I enjoy outside biking for recreational fun.

If you could give the females reading this one bit of training advice, what would it be?

 

I have three key elements for training:   Consistency, Patience and Passion

Consistency – Staying consistent in your training is extremely important if you want to see results. I am talking months and years when I say being consistent. Remember this is a lifetime journey that should be included in your day to day lifestyle. Results do not happen overnight which leads into my next key element.

Patience – Being patient is what I emphasize the most to people that ask me how you achieve your fitness goals. You have to be patient with the training, nutrition and the plan you have set in place for yourself. You can’t just stop after a month if it’s not working. You have to give it time. Everyone responds differently, so some may take longer for one person than the other so don’t give up!!

Passion- Be passionate about your training! When you get up each day do you look forward to training? If not, then that will slow your progress down drastically. You have to enjoy what you are doing first and foremost to have the longevity of success. Also you have to set goals in your training. Never stay stagnant. Progression is key to change. Regardless of what your fitness goals are, just always remember enjoy the journey. Find what you love to do and go out and smash it!!

What does the future hold for you, any future goals you would like to share?

I have so many goals I want to accomplish. Competing has given me so much and open doors that I am truly thankful to experience in my lifetime. Currently I am 48 and so happy to be able to compete at this age and my plans are to compete at least 2 more years and end with a big bang at 50!   Also I am currently working on a Paleo cookbook called “Paleo Fit Chick Healthy Eating” that I hope to have out in a year.

Thank you for your time Tania, is there anything you would like to add?

Last, I just want to add that I am very passionate about maintaining a healthy lifestyle and hope to help and encourage others that everyone can achieve a fitness goal and all you have to do set a plan in action and start! You don’t have to compete to achieve a level of great fitness and health.

I would like to give a shout out to the brilliant VP (Healthy Vision Photography) at Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas! Thank you!

If any of the Weights 4 Women readers would like to find out more about you, wheres the best place for them to go?

 

I want to thank Weights 4 Women for allowing me to share my story and if you would like to follow me on social media for my nutrition and health tips see below links:   Now go get’em!!

Sponsored: Elite Figure and Fitness/Greg Hasberry Coach

Facebook:   www.facebook.com/tclarkwbffpro

Instagram: @tclarkwbffproathlete

Twitter: tclarkwbffproathlete

Email: tclarkpaleofit@yahoo.com

 

 

Cardio before or after weight training?

Should you be doing your cardio at the start of your workout or at the end?

This is a topic that comes up quite often with clients and other trainers and I want to give you my thoughts on this. I believe that you should do your steady state cardio AFTER your weight training, not before.

To burn body fat your body needs to use your stored fat as the primary fuel source for exercise. In order to do this, you must deplete your glycogen stores first. Glycogen is stored glucose, when you take in carbohydrates your body either uses them or stores them.

When you weight-train, your body typically use glycogen as fuel. By doing your weight training session first, you can burn the majority of your glycogen stores. This means your body is more likely to use its stored fat as a means of fueling your steady state cardio.

This method is NOT referring to high intensity interval training (HIIT), this refers to cardiovascular activities which are at a low intensity for a sustained period of time. Usually more than 30 minutes.

The hormonal benefits of weight training can`t be ignored. By training at a high intensity during your weights session, there will be a peak of testosterone and growth hormone post workout. Both these hormones are anabolic, as well as two key hormones in burning body fat.

If you was to do your weight session after your cardio, I thoroughly believe you would not be able to train hard enough to elicit the appropriate hormonal response.

Give it a try!

3 squat variations for you to try

dumbbell squat

Back Squat

The back squat is commonly known as the traditional squat. This is the exercise of choice for many looking to improve and shape their hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes. There are 2 variations utilised when it comes to the back squat,  low bar and high bar. This refers to the placement of the bar on the trapezius and upper back. The high bar is the most common bar placement that will you see in most commercial gyms.This is where the bar sits very high at the back of the neck, those with very little muscle density or body fat often find this very uncomfortable and it is not rare to see many individuals opting to place a towel around the barriers to improve comfort. The low bar squat is less common and as a whole will only be found in more sports specific and powerlifting gyms. The low bar as the name suggests sits much lower down on the upper back. Those with poor shoulder flexibility find this extremely uncomfortable as there is a great emphasis on improving shoulder mobility to avoid Injury for those individuals opting for this bar placement.  The low bar puts more of the emphasis on the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, lower back) as opposed to the quadriceps. The range of motion is vastly reduced in this movement for many which means once technique is perfected,  the individual can often lift more weight than they would with the high bar placement. This isn’t always the case as limb length plays a great role here but as a whole, it is usually the case.

Front Squat

The second most common squat variation is the front squat. This movement pattern is generally used as opposed to the back squat to directly target the quadriceps on the front of the leg. The bar sits across the top of the clavicles (collar bone) in front of the neck. Due to the bar positioning being more anterior in relation to the body, there is a great emphasis on the anterior muscles of the body. This means there is a greater emphasis on the abdominals to stabilise the upper body and keep the individual upright and not collapsing forward against the weight. Those with weak abdominals tend to struggle a little with this exercise to begin with and is usually very identifiable due to the body positioning on the upward (concentric) phase of the lift. Beginners and those not fully competent with the front squat should start nice a light to begin with and aim to overload and progress In a linear fashion over multiple weeks.

Dumbbell Squat

The dumbbell squat is a fantastic exercise for everybody whether you’re a beginner or advanced gym user. The added benefit of the dumbbell squat is that you only need minimum equipment to perform the exercise correctly. The barbell back and front squat both require a power rack or squat stands, bar and weight plates and for safety reasons a spotter is advisable. Contrast this to the dumbbell alternative, it can be done anywhere! Whether you’re at home, on holiday, working away and having to stay in hotel accommodation, the exercise can still be performed if you have a set of dumbbells. Due to the exercise demands requiring the individual to hold the dumbbells to the side of the body, this has the added benefit of reducing injury risk. The exercise requires no direct loading on the spine, so those suffering from neck and back problems can usually carry out the exercise safely if directed by a trained medical practitioner that it is safe to do so. For those wishing to emphasize the load on the quadriceps more, I advise elevating your heels very slightly with a spare weight plate or stable object, this will help to put more of an emphasis on the quadriceps in contrast to sitting back into the squat position and targeting more of the hamstrings