Stronger than Yesterday: Setting Strength Training Goals

By Kirstie Chase for Athletico

A New Year can be unpredictable, but setting authentic goals combined with genuine pursuit can usher in the kinds of change and inspiration you are seeking. If becoming stronger and more confident are goals you have in mind, this post has tips to make it happen!

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As mentioned in the first post of this series (#Stronger than Yesterday: Why Should I Strength Train?), building physical strength is a profoundly effective route to increasing overall health. Unfortunately, success does not happen overnight. Achieving your healthiest self is a process, and the initial steps call for a mindset of growth, defining success and setting goals.

Attitude will affect behavior. Attitude plays a pivotal role in reaching fitness goals.1 Beginning and continued strength training is heavily influenced by upholding a positive mindset. This is a thoughtful process. It is important to reflect upon your attitude toward strength training. A positive attitude will increase the likelihood that you will stick to your goals.1

For instance, it is important to acknowledge there will likely be barriers to deal with when setting a goal. Lack of time is one of the biggest barriers people attribute to not being able to exercise.2 Understanding barriers you may be up against is a great way to begin cultivating a mindset for change. Ask yourself the following questions to gauge your attitude about setting new strength training goals:

  1. What is appealing about strength training?
  2. What am I hoping to accomplish?
  3. What benefits will I receive from committing to my strength training goals?

Defining success also defines action. Goal orientation is another valuable component in goal setting. The way in which you define success will dictate the actions you take to reach success.3

It is important that goals are rooted in acquiring new skills, learning and self-improvement. Goals oriented in this way lead to greater satisfaction and achievement in exercise. It is also important to view individualized strength goals as a process toward becoming the best version of yourself. In doing so you will continue to develop an attitude that believes improvement is possible and that you can become stronger. Ask yourself the following questions about the orientation of your strength training goals:

  1. How will I define success in my strength training goal?
  2. What new skills do I want to learn as I work toward this goal?

Goals should be S.M.A.R.T. With any new fitness goal it is important to concretely define the specifics to increase the likelihood of success. Setting your goals using the “S.M.A.R.T.” strategy allows you to consider the details of your training.4 Each goal should be:

Specific – A specific goal should have an outline detailing what it is. The more specific the better!

Measurable – Tracking progress can be in the amount of sets, weight lifted or days committed to lifting. Goals become easier to reach when success is measurable.

Attainable – It is important that strength training goals are within your reach. A goal set too high will be extreme, a goal set too low will be something you know you can do easily. An attainable goal should fall somewhere in the middle!

Relevant – Any goal put in place should have importance to your life as it is now. Trying to achieve someone else’s strength training goal can have detrimental effects to progression.

Timely – Goals need an end-point. Giving your goal a timeline adds accountability to your strength training routine!

Healthier Habits Start with Goals

Physical success in the gym is proceeded by positive attitudes and smart goals. Ifathletico300x250 beginning a new strength training program is your goal in the New Year, it is important to start with the mind so the body can follow. Getting strong is much more than picking up heavy weights. Building long-lasting healthy habits starts with a mindset of growth.

If you want to learn more about strength training, schedule an appointment at an Athletico near you.

Click to Request an Appointment Today

Stronger than Yesterday: Why Should I Strength Train?

By  Kirstie Chase for Athletico

Fads are common in the fitness world, just think of Richard Simmons videos, Boflex infomercials and Shake Weights as examples. Some fitness fads, however, can stand the test of time.

Recently there has been increased popularity in strength training. This type of exercise,strength-train which is also referred to as resistance training, is designed to improve muscular fitness as the muscles generate force against external stimuli.1 Unlike other fitness fads, strength training is timeless because it helps to preserve and maintain healthy muscle.
Once thought to be an activity for athletes, strength training is now recommended as a safe and effective way to improve health. What’s more, anyone can benefit from this type of exercise regimen – be it male or female, novice or professional, young or old.2

Principles of Strength Training

Although it can seem overwhelming to set new health and wellness goals, this blog (and the two in this series to follow) aims to provide clarity and tips in strength training for a healthy year and a healthier you. Before getting started with a new strength training program, it is important to understand a few simple principles that lead to incredible health benefits.

  1. Progressive Overload – This principle refers to exercising the body to a level beyond which it is accustomed. Strength and growth occur when the muscles are progressively challenged to do more.3
  • If someone can bicep curl a 10 pound dumbbell for 10 reps with ease, they can either increase the amount of weight or reps to add an overload in this activity. It is advised to increase weight or reps one at a time, rather than both simultaneously.
  1. Specificity – This principle implies that an exercise must be specific to the muscles involved to improve strength in those muscles. Adaptations will occur due to the specific nature of the exercise.3
  • If someone wants to increase their upper body strength for pull-ups and push-ups they must do those exercises, or others that target the muscles involved. For instance, they will not improve upper body strength by running or cycling.
  1. Reversibility – This third principle states the improvements can be lost or reduced when the overload is removed or the specificity is changed.3
  • If someone stops resistance training they will see a reduction in their strength abilities. What’s more, if this person changes their specific goals they will also see a change in adaptations as well.

Health Benefits of Strength Training

The three aforementioned principles represent the basis on which strength develops. Becoming a stronger and healthier version of yourself requires progression and specificity to avoid reversibility. Creating a strength goal with these concepts in mind is a great way to form a base in your training. Since growth extends beyond lifting heavier weights in a gym setting, your strength goals will lend themselves into everyday health benefits, such as:

  • Combating muscle loss that occurs naturally with age
  • Preventing osteoporosis through muscular development
  • Reductions in body fat and increased lean muscle mass
  • Improvements in metabolic functions
  • Decreased risk of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension
  • Improved cholesterol
  • Developing neurological functions
  • Increased balance and coordination in movements
  • Reductions in injuries
  • Greater satisfaction and quality of life4

Safety Firstathletico300x250

The body is meant to move and more effective movement comes from developing strength. That said, it is important to keep safety top of mind when exercising in order to prevent injuries. If you do feel unusual aches and pains after working out, make sure to schedule a complimentary injury screening at your nearest Athletico location.

5 Ways to Stop Knee Pain in Runners

By Ryan Domeyer PT, DPT, CMPT for Athletico

Between 20 to 93 percent of runners suffer from knee pain, making it the most common lower extremity injury.  When knee pain occurs, one of the treatment options is physical therapy. Physical therapists are trained to examine, diagnose and treat knee pain to help patients return to the activities they love.

The majority of knee pain associated with running is not caused by direct trauma butknee-pain rather improper loading. Running requires the ability to absorb the weight of the body when the runner’s foot hits the ground in order to propel the runner forward. Although it might not seem like it, running is actually a complicated skill that most people do not actively practice prior to their recreational run. Knee pain can start during a run, but most commonly is experienced after running longer distances. Research shows the more miles you run the higher risk of sustaining a knee injury. The most common causes of knee pain in runners are iliotibial (IT) band syndrome, chondromalacia patella (runners knee) and patellar tendon pain.

It is common for runners to treat their knee pain with rest and ice and hope it goes away on its own. Although rest can help during the initial stages of knee pain, there are many ways that runners can take load off their knees and prevent future injuries, including the five listed below:

  1. Improve Hip Flexor and Quadriceps Mobility

Americans spend on average 13 hours per day sitting.1 Sitting for long periods of time during school, work or watching TV causes the front of the hip to shorten, which leads to tightness in the hip flexor and quadricep muscles. Stretching or foam rolling are the most efficient ways to improve hip flexor and quadriceps mobility to lessen knee pain. For more information on stretching and foam rolling, read:

Stretching: It’s All in the Hips Part 3

Foam Rolling: 3 Ways to Roll Away Muscle Tension

  1. Improve Hip Strength

Another adverse effect of sitting during the day is the inefficient use of our gluteal muscles. The gluteal muscles are the largest muscles in the body and when trained properly, can lessen the load on the knee. The easiest way to improve strength of the gluteal muscles is with bodyweight exercises including bridges, planks, side planks, bird dogs and hip abduction raises.

  1. Improve Balance

As previously mentioned, running requires the ability to land on one leg repeatedly to propel the body forward. The knee is the middle connection between the ground and the body. A loss in balance can lead to poor force absorption from the ground with each step taken during running.

To test balance, try standing on one leg without using your arms for 30 seconds. If this is difficult, balance can be improved by practicing. To take this balance exercise a step further, try balancing on one leg without holding onto anything with your eyes closed. If balance continues to be a problem, consider scheduling a complimentary injury screening at your nearest Athletico Physical Therapy.

  1. Improve Core Position and Stability

Another way to improve muscle imbalances is to improve core strength and the ability to run with a neutral spine. To do this, begin your run on the right track with a neutral neck aligned over your shoulders, neutral low back without a large backward curve and feet straight forward. Awareness of your low back and core position is important at the start of a run, as it becomes more difficult to maintain as fatigue sets in.

  1. Increase Number of Steps

Running technique is the most significant way to decrease the load on the knee to prevent or improve an injury. A simple way to improve technique is by increasing the number of steps taken. Although it may seem counterintuitive to take more steps, this will prevent a poor foot strike position and set the body in a good position to fall forwardathletico300x250 rather than absorb the force.

If you need help with running technique, request a video gait analysis at Athletico, which provides real-time audio and visual feedback on your running style. This will enable your physical therapist to provide feedback that not only helps improve efficiency, but also helps to prevent injuries.

Click to Schedule a Complimentary Injury Screen

Dry Needling: Targeted Treatment for Pain Reduction

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All patients with any kind of pain problem will benefit from dry needling. This innovative pain treatment can be used to treat a variety of diagnoses including:

  • Headaches / Migraines
  • Neck pain
  • Lateral and medial Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
  • Shoulder impingement syndrome
  • Low back pain
  • ITB syndrome
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Greater trochanteric bursitis
  • Hamstring strain
  • Groin strain
  • Ankle sprain Plantar Fasciitis
  • Carpal Tunnel
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fibromyalgia

Dry needling is a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skinathletico300x250 and release underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments.  Dry needling (DN) is a technique used to treat dysfunctions in skeletal muscle, fascia, and connective tissue, and, diminish persistent peripheral nociceptive input, and reduce or restore impairments of body structure and function leading to improved activity and participation.

5 Exercise Tips For the New Year

By Donald Smith for Athletico

Many people decide that the start of the New Year is a good time to get in shape. They know that exercise helps them feel better mentally and physically, while also improving their strength, flexibility and endurance. What many don’t think about, however, is that exercise can hurt too.

Most people try to do too much when they decide to start exercising again. Oftentimeswoman-man-treadmill-running-300x200
they remember what they used to be able to do when they were younger and resolve to do it again. They might join the gym or an exercise class, and do an hour long workout that leaves them sore the next day. They might then lay off for a week before trying it again with the same results. It doesn’t take long before they give up on exercise – again. But this cycle can be broken!

Here’s a new way to start and stay active.

  1. Talk with your physician about starting an exercise program.

This is especially important if you are on medications, have a disease or condition that may be impacted by increased activity, or have not been physically active for months or years.

  1. Start slowly and build momentum.

One of the best ways to start is with just five minutes of exercise the first day and add awoman-work-out-plank-300x200 minute each day. In a month you’ll be doing more than 30 minutes a day. What’s more, research has shown that the 30 minutes doesn’t have to be continuous to be beneficial. You can do five minutes in the morning, 15 minutes at lunch, and 10 minutes in the evening. If you’re watching television, try getting up and walking around, or climbing a few stairs, during commercials.

  1. Build endurance with aerobic activity.

Aerobic activities build your endurance. The word Aerobic means that you’re exercising while giving your muscles enough oxygen for the work they’re doing. You’ll get sore when you exercise your muscles without enough oxygen. Walking, bicycling and dancing are a few aerobic exercises worth trying. Walking is a good starting exercise, as it is usually the easiest, safest and cheapest type of aerobic activity.

The best way to know if you’re doing aerobic exercise is by keeping your heart rate inwoman-fitness-on-ladder-300x200 your target heart range. To figure out your target heart range, take 220 minus you age. Then take that number and multiply it by 65 percent and 85 percent.

For example: A 50 year-old would be 220 – 50 = 170; 170 X .65 = 110 and 170 X .85 = 144. So, to be aerobic that 50 year-old needs to keep their heart rate between 110 and 144 when exercising.

If all this seems too complicated, remember to slow down exercise if you’re breathing heavily and speed up if you’re not breathing deeply.

  1. Try strength training. 

You typically won’t get as sore if you do strength training after aerobic exercise. If you strengthen using low weight and high reps you will likely stay in the aerobic heart range. Start with a weight you can do for 20 reps without stopping. Increase as able each session until you can do 40 reps at that rate. Then, change to the next higher weight and go back to 20 reps and work up to 40 again.

  1. Reduce the chance of injury with stretching.

There is less chance of injury with proper stretching. Remember stretching should never hurt!  Here’s an easy way to stretch:

Step 1 –  Move gently into a position where you feel tight, but don’t push it.

Step 2 – Take a deep breath in through your nose.

Step 3 – Let the breath out through your lips in a silent whistle, and the muscles you’re stretching will relax.

Repeat Steps 1 – 3 four times.

If you feel unusual aches and pains after exercising, make sure to schedule a complimentary injury screening at your nearest Athletico location.

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