Smiling can impact your running

Training your facial muscles can affect your results Last year, Eliud Kipchoge ran 26.2 miles in just two hours and 25 seconds in Monza, Italy, as part of Nike’s Breaking2 Project. His time, although not record-eligible, is the fastest marathon time ever recorded, and the effort required to clock it was undoubtedly grueling. Yet Kipchoge…

Smiling can impact your running was originally published on Self Evolve

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Training your facial muscles can affect your results

Last year, Eliud Kipchoge ran 26.2 miles in just two hours and 25 seconds in Monza, Italy, as part of Nike’s Breaking2 Project. His time, although not record-eligible, is the fastest marathon time ever recorded, and the effort required to clock it was undoubtedly grueling. Yet Kipchoge never let it show on his face. In fact, it appeared as if he was actually grinning at times. He later told reporters that he was smiling in order to relax and work through the pain. While it may seem silly, science backs up the fact that smiling does have an effect on our performance.

Smile to run further

Studies have shown that when we enrich our workout with a smile, we feel that the effort we put out is far less than the effort we exert when we frown while exercising. But no research had seriously looked into the effects of manipulating our facial expressions by smiling or frowning on our running economy until now. Researchers at Ulster University in Northern Ireland and Swansea University in Wales asked a group of 24 runners to wear a breathing mask to measure oxygen consumption and then complete four six-minute running blocks on a treadmill while smiling and while frowning. The study found that runners who smiled used less oxygen, ran more economically, and had a lowered perceived rate of exertion than those who frowned and those in the control group.

“They were 2.8 percent more economical when smiling than when frowning,” says Noel Brick, Ph. D., lecturer in sport and exercise physiology at the University of Ulster and coauthor of the study. The reason has to do with facial feedback. This little trick becomes especially useful for runners who need to conserve energy over the course of a long-distance run. When talking marathon distance, you can easily shave 5 minutes off your finish time just by smiling. And that smile doesn’t even have to be genuine. Fake it till you make it!

Throw your brain an endorphins party

A smile instantly boosts positivity, relaxes the body, and in turn, makes you more self-aware. When it comes to running, mentality and self-awareness will take you a long way – literally. In the end, mustering up a smile even when you don’t feel like it is just a matter of training, like any other habit. Besides, there’s not much to lose by giving grinning a shot. If nothing else, at least you’ll end up with better race photos.

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Smiling can impact your running was originally published on Self Evolve

The FitExpo Chicago 2018

My first FitExpo experience was a blast! This wasn’t my first fitness expo ever, but it was the first time I attended this specific event in Chicago. Actually, it was in Rosemont at the Donald E. Stephen’s Convention center. With the help of Groupon, I got in on the low for a few hours Saturday…

The FitExpo Chicago 2018 was originally published on Self Evolve

My first FitExpo experience was a blast!

This wasn’t my first fitness expo ever, but it was the first time I attended this specific event in Chicago. Actually, it was in Rosemont at the Donald E. Stephen’s Convention center. With the help of Groupon, I got in on the low for a few hours Saturday afternoon. I had so much fun walking around getting lots of free stuff and watching the various types of fitness shows/competitions. To anyone considering attending the FitExpo in the future, this is why you should go.

Swag

Not only did I get two t-shirts, I also got tons of samples including a tub of protein. Like a legit 1 pound tub. I also got other samples of BCAA’s, pre-workout, and post-workout supplements. There was a heavy protein focus all through the expo, and my friends and I would joke with every vendor if their product didn’t have protein then why bother? 🙂 I mean, we were there for gains weren’t we?

Competitions

FitExpoThere were several bodybuilding competitions going on, and I kept getting distracted by the amazing guys and their abs on display. I literally stood staring as my friend was trying to meet up with me. Whoops. Other than bodybuilding, there were powerlifting, crossfit, max reps, and other cool fitness competitions going on.

Workout classes

We got to get a good workout in, mostly by walking around for many hours. But my friends did take on the Spartan obstacle course which was a condensed version of the Spartan race. While this was an additional cost (unless you do it right before they close), there were other fitness classes offered for no fee. Unfortunately, they looked cardio based and I had already gotten in my cardio workout for the day.

Deals

There were many deals going on at the expo. Nearly every product there was at least 50% off the regular price. I bought some great-tasting BCAA’s at half the cost. I left with more muscles than I entered with. 😉

Two thumbs up

All in all, I would highly recommend The FitExpo Chicago. It’s an annual event that occurs either in May or June of every year. I had a great time and I look forward to attending next year!

 

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The FitExpo Chicago 2018 was originally published on Self Evolve

Find your power: get explosive by adding plyometrics

Get plyometric! Jumping isn’t only for basketball players. The right explosive exercises can help make your next run feel lighter and faster than ever. Most runners think about speed work, hills, and strength training to improve their run times, but often overlook adding power. Adding plyometrics- explosive, energy-honing exercises- to your training can make your…

Find your power: get explosive by adding plyometrics was originally published on Self Evolve

Get plyometric!

Jumping isn’t only for basketball players. The right explosive exercises can help make your next run feel lighter and faster than ever. Most runners think about speed work, hills, and strength training to improve their run times, but often overlook adding power. Adding plyometrics- explosive, energy-honing exercises- to your training can make your usual miles feel like you’ve switched to warp-speed mode. Plyometrics help convert strength into speed and explosive power.

What is it?

“Plyometrics involve a fast, high-intensity, involuntary eccentric contraction of the muscles and tendons, followed by an immediate, powerful concentric contraction,” Adam Rosante, strength and performance coach and founder of the Montauk Barbell Club. There are a lot of exercises that may look plyometric (i.e. box jumps, squat jumps, jumping lunges) but don’t fit the true definition. In order for it to be considered plyo, it has to be executed in less than two-tenths of a second. This is the amount of time in which your body can experience the shock that elicits the involuntary stretch, and use the accumulated energy for the returned action. The key to doing this well is a small number of good reps.

Slash seconds off your time

Studies show that just a month of performing traditional, resistance, or assisted plyo programs two to three times a week cuts seconds off sprint and agility times. They also show an increase in running economy and performance. But the right exercises are needed in order for this to be effective. When incorporating plyometrics into your workout routine, be sure to do them at the beginning of a strength-training day, before a run, or on it’s own for a quick power session. Then give yourself a 2 to 3 days break from plyos. Try this routine (do 3 sets of each exercise):

  • Depth jumps. Stand on a raised platform, such as a box or bench, toes on the edge. Step out and drop straight down (don’t jump). When you land, immediately jump straight up. Land softly. Do 6 to 8 reps.
  • Hurdle hops. Set up four to six 10 to 12 inch hurdles in a straight line, one in front of the other. Leave about 3 feet of space between each. Lower into a quarter-squat and explosively jump over each hurdle, making minimal contact with the ground and moving as fast as possible. Do 4 to 6 reps. To increase difficulty, move the hurdles either closer together or further apart. Change is up by not putting them in a straight line and incorporating lateral hops as well.
  • Depth jump into med-ball throw. Stand at the edge of a raised platform, holding a medicine ball with an underhand grip. Step off the platform and drop straight down. As soon as your feet hit the floor, jump up and throw the ball as high and far behind you as possible. Do 6 to 8 reps. Try not to throw the ball at anyone nearby.
  • Ankle jumps. Stand tall with both feet together. Bend knees slightly and jump straight up. While in the air, pull your toes toward your shins, emphasizing flexion at the ankle joint. You won’t jump very high, due to limited knee involvement. Do 6 to 8 reps.
  • Running leaps. From standing, take a few approach steps, keeping your body as low as possible, then leap off your left leg. Land on right leg and immediately push off again as quickly as possible (it should look like an exaggerated running form). That’s 1 rep. Do 6 to 8 reps.

Do you incorporate plyometrics in your workouts?

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Find your power: get explosive by adding plyometrics was originally published on Self Evolve

Pizza and Beer: You can’t out-train a bad diet

I’m guilty as charged There are days where I just say “F it” and eat whatever I want. While these days are few and far between, I used to have these days all the time. There was at least a solid year when I was working out 3-5 times a week all while going home…

Pizza and Beer: You can’t out-train a bad diet was originally published on Self Evolve

I’m guilty as charged

bad dietThere are days where I just say “F it” and eat whatever I want. While these days are few and far between, I used to have these days all the time. There was at least a solid year when I was working out 3-5 times a week all while going home and pigging out on pizza 3-5 times a week. Ok, maybe not that bad, but it wasn’t good. My diet was crap, and you know what else was crap? How I felt. After suffering through the side effects of a year of this bad diet, I decided to completely change what and how I ate. And while now-a-days my diet isn’t as strict, I’ve found a happy middle ground between extreme dieting and eating whatever I want.

Even the world’s best trainer can’t out-train a bad diet

You could train 5 to 6 days a week with the best trainer in the world (i.e. me) but even then you couldn’t go home and pig out on pizza and beer everyday. I’m not saying you can never have these things, but to eat and drink them everyday is just too hard to combat via exercise. Also, a high carb diet will only help you so much. Without proper protein and the right fats, it will be very hard for your muscles to repair and grow stronger after a strength training session or a hard run

Many runners have an attitude that they will burn off whatever they eat. This may seem to be the case because you run and don’t gain weight despite eating whatever you want. But just because the number on the scale seems healthy, doesn’t mean your diet isn’t doing damage on the inside. Overindulgence in simple sugars is the single most common dietary transgression among any endurance athletes, especially runners. I.e. white bread, white pasta, white rice and refined sugars. Large portions of these will turn into bad molecules, bad types of fat, and bad oxidative sugar species- things that do damage to the heart vessels. 

Still, runners often hear mixed messages about how exercise can erase the ills of a junk food habit. Especially high-intensity sessions. While this may be the case over a few weeks, if you continue to have a bad diet for years there will be long-term effects. No matter how much you run or workout, you can’t outrun a bad diet.

Always hungry

But I’m always hungry! That’s because all you eat is carbs! Up the proteins and fats and you’ll feel full for longer. Carbs are important, but if they are the main source of your calories you’ll likely be eating an entire bag of chips rather than just a few. 

Do you try to out-run a bad diet?

 

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Pizza and Beer: You can’t out-train a bad diet was originally published on Self Evolve

Zero gains: 5 reasons your workout isn’t working

Working out is hard.. But when you feel your body becoming stronger, your energy levels increasing, and your pants feeling looser, it’s worth it. The problem is, at one point or another, everyone has put in work and felt like they were reaping zero gains. Besides being very frustrating, it can cause even “gym rats”…

Zero gains: 5 reasons your workout isn’t working was originally published on Self Evolve

Working out is hard..

But when you feel your body becoming stronger, your energy levels increasing, and your pants feeling looser, it’s worth it. The problem is, at one point or another, everyone has put in work and felt like they were reaping zero gains. Besides being very frustrating, it can cause even “gym rats” to throw in the towel. Sound familiar?

Not anymore. Below are five main reasons you may not be seeing the fitness results you want, plus easy ways to get your workout working for you.

  1. You’re doing the same ol’ thing. Whatever you do, whether it’s sitting on the couch watching Netflix or running 5 miles a day, your body gets used to it. Your body is an amazing adaptive machine, it gets stronger and adds more muscle when you lift weights. With cardio, your body adepts by increasing endurance and aerobic capacity. If you do the same thing workout after workout, your body will stop changing. You have to change it up! The fix: progressive overload. Once you feel like your workout is getting easier, add more weights or reps to your strength routine, run faster or farther, or try more advanced progressions of your favorite yoga pose.
  2. You wing it. On the opposite side of the spectrum, some people change their workout up too often. Hopping between different programs goes against the concept of progressive overload. This doesn’t let you advance in any particular program. The fix: pick one discipline to be your bread-and-butter for at least a few months at a time. You can always sprinkle in other types of workouts to keep things interesting, but you should feel like you’re getting better at something.
  3. Your body’s stressed out. A bad breakup, work drama, financial troubles, processed foods and crappy sleep can trigger a stress response in your body. Cortisol and inflammation levels can increase and over time your body could start breaking down rather than building strength. The fix: You have to reduce the amount of stress in your life. If you can, cut back on the hours of work you do or your workouts if needed. But you will need those workouts to get more fit, so focusing on what outside force is stressing you out and trying to manage that is ideal.
  4. You try to crunch your way to a flat stomach. Spot training is a myth that just won’t die. Abs are some of the smaller muscles we have, and core exercises burn a low amount of calories because of this. The fix: If you want a flat stomach, you have to build muscle everywhere rather than just your abs. Focus on compound, total-body exercises like squats, deadlifts, and burpees to work out your body’s largest muscle groups.
  5. You’re eating too much- or too little. The foods you eat can either fuel your workouts or completely counteract them. Some people deprive themselves of calories and carbs they really need to workout, whereas others will eat a package of Oreo’s after moving around some dumb-bells at the gym. While the former can make you feel sluggish, cause your muscles to break down and actually slow your metabolism, the latter can easily cause you to take in more calories than you’re burning – even if you’re counting calories. The fix: Treat food as something that should fuel your body both in and out of the gym, rather than something that either 1) makes you fat and should be kept to the bare minimum or 2) is your reward for hitting the gym. That mind shift takes work, but it will help you keep your diet balanced and allow your workouts to show.

What do you do to avoid zero gains?

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Zero gains: 5 reasons your workout isn’t working was originally published on Self Evolve

Stronger arms, more speed

Are you trying to run faster? To be honest, runners aren’t necessarily known for their arms. It’s easy to neglect your top half when it seems like your legs do all the work. Failing to train your upper body, however, can hold you back big time. It may seem strange, but a strong upper body…

Stronger arms, more speed was originally published on Self Evolve

Are you trying to run faster?

To be honest, runners aren’t necessarily known for their arms. It’s easy to neglect your top half when it seems like your legs do all the work. Failing to train your upper body, however, can hold you back big time. It may seem strange, but a strong upper body is just as important as trained legs to run fast and easy. With stronger arms comes a faster running pace.

Stronger arms will pump your way to faster running

stronger arms

“Have you ever tried to run without your arms? It’s weird, inefficient, and hard as hell. Arm drive is a big part of running– when your legs get tired, you use your arms more because of the kinetic chain; you can’t have one without the other.” – Pamela Geisel, exercise physiologist.

Building a strong upper body will help you maintain good form as the miles tick by. Also, that stable, upright posture can increase your endurance by improving your lung capacity. In addition, your oxygen requirement will be reduced, leading to faster runs while using the same amount of energy.

Avoid injury

Not only will you run faster you’ll also prevent injury and create bone density while building muscular strength. And don’t go for the light weights, you have to be willing to lift heavier things if you want to prevent injury, improve your speed and last longer while running. Lifting light weights for a high number of reps achieves the same goal as running- building endurance, not strength.

Most runners skip the weights since they feel like they don’t have time, but it’s easy to break it into 10 minute increments. Taking 10 minutes off the duration of your run and doing a quick strength set provides more benefits than 10 more minutes on the road.

Is your goal to PR?

If so, save the hard-core lifting for cross-training days so you can focus on getting in a quality, high-intensity run. Otherwise, schedule a short circuit of strength training exercises pre-run: A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that doing so can make you more likely to bust out extra reps and help you maintain proper form throughout. And if the weight room is intimidating, body weight can be more than enough. i.e. push-ups and TRX rows. Whatever you do, be sure to warm up with core exercises such as planks and side planks.

Do you workout your arms?

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Stronger arms, more speed was originally published on Self Evolve

Building habits and finding accountability

How long does it take to form a new habit? On average, it takes over two months to form a new habit. 66 days to be exact, but this depends on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. The overall range can be anywhere from 18 days to 254 days. To think you can start…

Building habits and finding accountability was originally published on Self Evolve

How long does it take to form a new habit?

On average, it takes over two months to form a new habit. 66 days to be exact, but this depends on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. The overall range can be anywhere from 18 days to 254 days. To think you can start a new habit within weeks isn’t completely unrealistic, but it’s unlikely. The key to making a new habit into a routine? Accountability.

Where do you find accountability?

There are several resources you can use to find accountability. For me, I rely on my friends to hold me accountable. I have a great group of running friends who make sure I continue to run. I have an entire gym full of members who provide me daily encouragement. If they can workout before or after work, I have no excuse since I work at the gym. As a personal trainer, I feel like it’s my job to workout and eat healthy. If I don’t practice what I preach then I won’t be able to excel at what I do. This doesn’t mean I don’t have cheat days, though. I am human, after all.

accountabilityA great app to find accountability is HabitShare. You can download it from the Apple or Google Play store. The idea is you put in habits you want to start doing, and you check in daily (or however often you want to do the action). The best part is you add friends who are doing the same thing, and you keep each other accountable. It’s a great tool to keep you on track to reaching your goals.

Do you track your habits and goal progress? How are your New Year’s resolutions going?

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Building habits and finding accountability was originally published on Self Evolve