Hip Strengthening Exercises

Owner of Northwest Fitness, Sherri McMillan shared these great exercises from her blog site.  I had to pass them on to my readers.

Here’s some tips to conditioning your hips in a variety of ways:

Perform these exercises 2 days per week

Stepupb 150x150 Running Program Week 6Leg Step Up:

Holding a set of hand weights, position yourself in front of a bench with one foot on the bench.  The bench should be at a height that puts your knee at a 90 degree angle.  Keep your kneecap facing forward and your weight distributed on all four corners of your foot.  Now slowly step up extending the supporting knee into a fully upright, balanced position.  Now slowly lower yourself down to the starting position.  Perform 1-2 sets of 8-12 reps to fatigue for each leg.  Keep the height shorter if this bothers your knees at all.



Resisted Lateral Steps:SideStepa 150x150 Running Program Week 6

Wrap an exercise tube (exercise cuffs) around your ankles.  Standing tall with abdominals tight, slowly step side to side maintaining resistance on the tube.  Continue for 1-2 minutes.




hamstringcurl1b 150x150 Running Program Week 6Stability Ball Hamstring Curls:

Lay on your back with your feet positioned on an exercise ball.  With your arms at your side, slowly lift your hips and buttocks up towards the ceiling while contracting your glutes (buttocks) and hamstrings (back of thigh) until your body weight is resting comfortably on your shoulder blades.  Throughout the entire exercise, be sure to keep your hips square to the ceiling and your abdominals contracted.  Now slowly curl the ball in towards your body while maintaining control and stability through your core area.  Slowly curl out and in 8-20x for one to two sets. Feel free to take breaks as needed.



bridged 150x150 Running Program Week 6Leg Bridging:

Lay on your back with 1 leg bent, foot on the floor and the other leg lifted straight up to the ceiling.  With your arms at your side, slowly lift your hips and buttocks up towards the ceiling while contracting your glutes (buttocks) and hamstrings (back of thigh) until your body weight is resting comfortably on your shoulder blades.  Throughout the entire exercise, be sure to keep your hips square to the ceiling and your abdominals contracted.  Be sure not to tilt to one side while doing these 1-leg lifts.  Slowly lift up and down 8-20x for 1-2 sets.



Side Lying Outer Thigh Leg Lifts:

Lie on your side with your body straight. Keep you abdominals contracted as you lift the top leg upwards.  Hold at the upper end range of motion and then return to the starting position.  Complete 1-2 sets of 8-20 reps each leg. If this is too easy, perform this exercise with tubing wrapped around your ankles to increase the resistance.

Faith, Courage, Class

October 6, 2014

   It's football season and I have been thinking about how the players are motivated to follow through with their commitment to the team as well as to themselves.

   As kids we loved to play with our friends and as teens our world revolved around favorite activities we enjoyed doing with friends. This is a natural built-in passion to get involved. When I was a high school and college athlete my motivation came from family encouragement, friends, coaches and the love of the sport. How do athletes get motivated today? 

 I talked with Tim May, the basketball coach and teacher, as well as former student, at Coast Union High School in my small town of Cambria. He shared his ideas on how he motivates his players.

Set the example

   "I can't expect someone to do something if I haven't taken part in it," he says. "Whether it's a physical activity or a classroom activity, if I don't do what I'm expecting my players or students to do, I'm not going to know how to get them to do it. I have seen too many unsuccessful examples of people who don't offer consistency. Hopefully a good example  will become ingrained and become intrinsic for that student or player."


   "When trying to motivate someone or to get them motivated," May explained, "I think they need to feel at ease. Whatever they are about to undertake, physically or mentally, humor allows them to know that you are there for them and encouraging them along the way. Even though it may be a seriously challenging situation or their next chapter in life, smiling and laughing helps ease the process and makes it more enjoyable. We know how hard it is to commit to something."

Track their progress

   May believes that showing a person the progress they are making is perhaps the most practical and best coaching technique. "The person that needs the motivation can see tangible evidence of what they have accomplished," he pointed out. "Whether this is in the weight room, on the scale, in the classroom or on the court, being able to show a person where they were one week ago and where they are now is priceless. The easiest way to do this is through journaling or using a notebook to track progress -- or today's version, finding an appropriate app -- and using it for whatever activity you're undertaking."

- - - -

   In addition to Tim's comments, my friend Susan McDonald pointed me to an interesting article in the Los Angeles Times about her son's football team. He is Kris Krich, who coaches the University of La Verne football team in La Verne, CA, a small town near Pomona east of Los Angeles. He encourages his football team with some of those same ideals that Tim May learned as a student at Coast Union and teaches today.

   It seems the process hasn't changed so much. 

   So, let the games begin. Encouraging our young men and women to continue learning how to achieve their own personal success is a gift that keeps on giving.

Experiencing DOMS

September 22, 2014

   Any type of activity that places unaccustomed loads on muscle may lead to DOMS -- delayed onset muscle soreness. 

   It's different from acute soreness, which is pain that develops while doing the actual activity. Delayed soreness typically begins to develop 12-24 hours after the exercise has been performed and may produce the greatest pain 24-72 hours after you exercise. 

   Activities that cause DOMS include those when muscles are lengthened and force is applied. This is called eccentric muscle action. These movements include bicep curls when one lowers or extends the arm, or lengthening the leg muscle when one runs, jogs or walks for extended periods of time on a flat surfaces or hills. This usually occurs when one is not used to doing these activities on a regular basis. Post exercise muscle pain is not caused by the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles, as was once believed  your body is  actually making adaptations to better prepare your muscles to do that activity again. This temporary discomfort is a natural part of your body’s muscle rebuilding process.  

     How sore you become depends on the types of forces placed on the muscle. Running down a hill will place greater force on the muscle than walking down the same hill. The soreness that develops will probably be worse if you are running.

     All people are susceptible to DOMS, even those who have been exercising for years. The severity of the soreness normally becomes less as your body adapts to your new workout. Just one bout of soreness-producing exercise actually develops a partial protective effect that reduces the chance of developing soreness in that same activity for weeks or months in the future.

Causes of Soreness

   Today, scientists know that DOMS is influenced by athletic conditioning and age. Younger athletes are susceptible because they haven't been conditioning long enough for the muscles to handle heavy and intense workouts. They do not have enough of an anti-inflammatory enzyme due to this lack of conditioning time. Older athletes are susceptible because of their age, shifting hormonal status and decreased recovery response. Older athletes have lower anti-inflammatory enzyme levels and their inflammatory response systems are less efficient. Research indicates that a good warm up before exercising will prepare your muscle to be more able to handle the activity and prevent DOMS.

No Pain No Gain

   Some believe that having DOMS is like a badge of honor. Just because you're not crippled the next day doesn't mean you didn't get a good work out in. Your should feel some soreness 24 hours to three days after your activity. If you try to do the same exercise and you cannot because you go immediately to muscle failure, you've done too much. There is also a genetic component to how sensitive we are to pain and soreness.  If you have a low pain tolerance you will experience DOMS more acutely than someone who has a high pain tolerance when given the same training load. It's important to know your body's tolerance to pain before you do any exercising.

The Treatment

   There has been no therapy that consistently increases the speed at which DOMS is relieved, but some therapies may work if applied right after exercise. Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen (also called NSAIDS) may help relieve pain. Gentle massage on the affected muscles can offer relief too. Using a hot pad or soaking in a hot tub can help soothe the muscles temporarily as well as rest, gentle yoga and gentle stretching. Remember, NSAIDs can adversely affect the gastric system so they should be used sparingly.

   As with many things, doing more isn't necessarily better. Progressive increases in exercise will help the body adjust to the changes with a minimal amount of recovery. As always I do encourage everyone to do something physical whatever that may be.

Persistence, How Will It Help You?

September 15, 2014

     A few years ago I was home from work having lunch when my son knocked on the door. He is married and lives 60 miles away. Why was he here at this time of the day? 

   He had some bad news. His dad (my husband) suffered a heart attack while cycling up the coast and had died instantly. At 54 I was now a widow. My husband was the financial provider and just short of retiring with a full pension. Now what? 

   My first priority was to figure out where I wanted to live and how I wanted to live. If I was to keep my home (which wasn't paid for) how was I going to pay the monthly mortgage? I was working as a personal trainer part time and a physical therapy aid. I knew I needed to make changes in my income to survive. 

   For the first two years I converted a back room in my home into a rental. This extra income could help me out while I transitioned into making personal training my full time job. In the meantime I got a job as a physicians assistant to help with consistent income. That first year I worked 50 hours a week hoping it wouldn't last too long. I began learning to market myself better, letting people know my background and basically getting the word out about my availability as a trainer -- I had been working part time as a personal trainer for five years. 

   I am a rather shy person and do not like being front and center anywhere, but if I was to be successful I had to acquire some of those skills as well. One day at a time I told myself. I committed to adding a new habit regularly such as purchasing for my business, learning a bookkeeping program and adding equipment to my existing supply that would help me expand what I could do with clients in their homes. 

   I added training sessions at another gym and added new skills that I could use to help my clients and make me a better trainer. Slowly, gradually, I acquired more clients and a reputation. Nine months ago my roommate got married and I was able to change her room into a workout studio where I could do training at home. One and a half years later after going full time as a personal trainer I have reached that goal. Covering the mortgage, teaching classes, training clients and even having time to hike, bike and run the trails in my small town. Without persistence and belief in myself none of this would have happened.

Don't Give Up, Don't Ever Give Up

"My greatest point is my persistence. I never give up in a match. However down I am, I fight until the last ball. My list of matches shows that I have turned a great many so-called irretrievable defeats into victories." -- Bjorn Borg

   One the most inspiring speeches I've ever heard came from North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano. Perhaps you've seen it. He was terminally ill with cancer when he spoke at ESPN Espy Awards to announce the creation of the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research. The motto of the foundation is a phrase he used to tell his players: "Don't give up, don't ever give up." In his speech Valvano talked about it in terms of enthusiasm.

   When I started writing this blog entry I gave it some thought and realized that "how to be persistent" was not an easy topic. There are websites with bullet lists on how to be persistent and, to be honest, I think you need to already have persistence do all the things on the list. Setting attainable goals can certainly help to get in the right frame of mind to be persistent. Small successes can snowball into real changes. But I'm not sure that persistence and goal setting are always the same thing. I think, to a large degree, persistence stems from an attitude.

   We all have it somewhere inside us. Accessing it is often the issue. There are plenty of stories of people who took no for answer early in life and didn't follow their passion -- only to come back to it as a 2nd career when they discovered the drive they had all along to make it work. What was missing before? Often times I think it was the belief in oneself. 

   As a trainer I think this is a key component to making progress with fitness and health. And it turns out that many people who think they aren't up for the challenge of becoming more fit and more healthy haven't really faced the question of their own determination. It often comes as a personal news flash.

   As far as my story, there are definitely people who've overcome greater odds. It isn't so much about the size of the challenge but about the inner strength that can take you anywhere you want to go. I believe we all have this in us if we only choose to access it. Maybe that's why we admire people who achieve long happy marriages, overcome difficulties in life and not let challenges stop them. Patience and persistence comes with no guarantees. What they do teach us is that there is value in working hard and knowing over time it's all worth it. 

Autumn's Energy

 September 8, 2014

   Yesterday I took a walk on Fiscalini Ranch. It was a beautiful clear day and at one point I had to stop and admire a beautiful V formation of birds flying south. I had one of those inborn sensations we all have that the seasons are changing - leaves falling or changing colors, a chill in the air, and... shorter days. It's natural to wish the long sunny days of summer would continue forever. You can fight your circadian rhythms or you can use this time to your advantage. Winter blues don’t have to be inevitable. This is a great time to make changes.

To Everything There Is a Season... Go With It!

   One thing I love about the changing seasons is variety, especially at the farmer's market. Spring brings us snap peas, peaches abound in summer, and in the fall it's time for squash, apples, and dark leafy greens among others. 

  Farmer’s markets are bursting with a new variety of produce, so make a resolution to try them all! These warming fruits and vegetables are incredibly healthy and surprisingly versatile. Try making a squash and apple soup, or roast up a variety of vegetables to put on top of a fresh salad.

Winter's chill 

  If you're like me, it easy to translate the colder nights into a feeling that catching a cold is right around the corner. Changes in the weather and shorter days affect our bodies which are used to functioning in a certain temperature, so as the seasons change it's forced to adapt. You can boost your immune system by getting plenty of rest, eating more fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin C, making sure you're getting enough vitamin D (not just from supplements but from sunshine, too), taking a walk every day, and eating plenty of lean protein. There is scientific evidence that a natural diet and an active lifestyle boosts immune system health and helps to avoid the common cold, prevent the flu and more serious health conditions.

Kick the winter blues

   It's four times more common in women than in men. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is also called winter depression, winter blues, or the hibernation reaction.

   The incidence of seasonal affective disorder increases in people who are living farther away from the equator. In the United States it occurs in 1-10 percent of adults, and its prevalence is dependent on geographical location. SAD is less common where there is snow on the ground. The average age of people when they first develop this illness is 23. But people of all ages can develop seasonal affective disorder. Some typical symptoms of the disorder include significant and impairing fatigue, sleeping more hours per day than usual, weight gain of at least 5 percent, a pervasively sad mood, disinterest in activities, difficulty concentrating, guilt that affects self-esteem and additional symptoms also associated with depression. The good news is this condition is usually temporary.

   I find there's one wonderful thing anyone can do to help shake this kind of seasonal depression. Can you guess what it is? Exercise! We have within us our own mood enhancer chemicals called endorphins. Any kind of aerobic exercise from running to arm cycling that can get your heart rate to 75 percent of maximum for 20 minutes will generally give you a nice endorphin rush. 

Change a bad habit

   Pick one thing that is not good for you and work on replacing it. Suppose potato chips are your weakness. Replace them with fresh or roasted carrots, or any of the veggie platters you can easily find at the supermarket. Commit to always having these snacks lying around. The idea is to take dead aim at one thing -- in this case potato chips -- not your whole diet. 

   Maybe you've looked at the scale lately and realize the extra glass of wine at social gatherings has been making a bigger you. Alcohol packs almost twice the amount of calories per gram than plain old sugar. So, have your glass of wine, but instead of a second one switch to sparkling cider. Trader Joe's even sells a line of sparkling lemonades that won't make you feel like you're going without. 

   It's all about establishing a pattern and repeating the behavior. I love ice cream and would eat it every day if I could, but I rarely eat it at all. Why? Because I never buy it. I've just gotten myself in the habit of bypassing it in the store. It works. If I get an urge for some ice cream it's hard to fulfill if there isn't any in the house.

   Establish a pattern. Repeat it again and again until it becomes a habit. That's one way to make a change.

   Shorter days and colder weather don't have to signal the time to slow down. Autumn is actually a great opportunity to get that additional energy boost whether it's from your diet, exercise or a change you've always been meaning to make.

Boot Camp 101

 August 25, 2014

   I bet many people are wondering what boot camp sessions are all about and how they became so much a part of exercise classes?

   A fitness boot camp is a type of group physical training program usually conducted through gyms, personal trainers or from people formerly in the military who often model their programs on basic training. The programs are intended to build strength and fitness. There are several types of boot camps such as interval training, plyometrics, weight training, ballet and cross fit training. The ultimate goal is to increase cardiovascular efficiency, increase strength, lose body fat and initiate a regular routine of exercise.

  Why call it boot camp? Well, it's a group of people who train, creating camaraderie and team effort. Many classes include push ups, squats, burpees and sit ups all used in traditional military boot camps for new recruits. They can be held outside or at a gym. The cost is usually nominal compared to a gym membership and often the only weight equipment needed is your own body. Sometimes teams are formed. The idea is that everyone involved works at their own pace as they team up toward one goal, either in pairs, small teams of three or four, or even two teams head on.

   Since boot camp fitness involves using the entire body all at one time, workouts are more efficient. They often include a high level of aerobic conditioning and just about every exercise type is designed to elevate your heart rate to achieve an aerobic effect. A recent study performed by the University of Wisconsin evaluated six men and six women between the ages of 19 and 29 who participated in a boot camp exercise program. The study revealed that all 6 men and 6 women averaged 77% of their target heart rates during their workouts, with highs of 91%. This coincides directly with the American College of Sport Medicine's recommendation of 70–94% maximum heart rate for cardiovascular strength exercise.

   Here are some comparable statistics on calories burned through participation in boot camps and other forms of exercise.

Type of exercise...   Calories burned in 1 hour

Running (9 mph)...   738

Boot camp...   588

Aerobic Dance...   582

Spinning...   576

Walking (fast pace)...   520

Cardio-kick boxing...   486

Curves...   384

Power Yoga...   354

Gardening & house cleaning...   200-300

Walking (slow pace)...   162

   Boot camps can be for any age. A senior boot camp certainly would be different than one for kids, or for elite athletes or beginners. The intensity can be adjusted individually so injuries don't happen. Results can be seen very quickly because the workouts are so efficient. This is beneficial for the busy person who has minimal time to dedicate to exercise.

    It can be a fun way to get in shape and the routines vary so much that boredom rarely sets in. These classes are usually two to three times a week and last anywhere from four weeks to twelve weeks. The time involved is anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes, making them easy to commit and adhere to. 

    Some fitness professionals claim there is only one way to train, while others argue that no single training program is above another. I feel that it comes down to the individual’s personal preference.  Ask yourself these questions: do I enjoy this form of exercise? Does it fulfill my fitness goals and aspirations? Is the cost reasonable? Do I get value for money?

   Ultimately you will find what works best for you and your body. Just remember to always keep it interesting and fun. That will ensure you continue it for a very long time.


Missing Workouts Does Effect You More Than You Realize

August 18, 2014

   You know those predator fish you see in nature documentaries, which lie motionless in wait all day on the bottom, moving once or twice a day, lightning fast, to swallow a meal? They don't need to exercise. They were designed for that.

    But our bodies were made to move. Whether it's trying to build muscle, lose weight, or simply live a healthy lifestyle, exercise is central. It helps keep our hearts strong, burn calories and increase our energy levels. It's important to create an exercise routine that you're comfortable with and that you can commit to on a regular basis. Missing one day here and there won't negatively affect your overall health and wellness, but it could be the start of a habit of skipping exercise on a more regular basis.

   Let’s face it, working out regularly takes a lot of discipline whether it's three, four or five times a week. Challenging our bodies at high intensity every single workout is difficult. Doing these things on a regular basis, as well as eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water and getting enough rest says a lot about our commitment to ourselves. It takes willpower to overcome the temptations that surround us everyday. 

   Every time you go for a walk, run or cycle or make it to the gym, you become a stronger human being. Working on improving your physical conditioning will enrich your life in many ways. You will have more energy for your children, you will become a more productive worker, and you can stay more focused and be a better partner to your spouse. The strength and energy you get from exercising regularly does transfer to other aspects of your life and those same principals that you apply to your workouts can also apply to your daily life.

   When we exercise regularly, eat well and take time to rest, the body is nourished. This is that good feeling after staying on track. It makes us better problem solvers and we have more patience. Exercise helps us sleep better and maintain a healthy weight. Ultimately we are happier people. There are 168 hours in a week and using five to six of them to care for your body isn’t much.

   When we miss  workouts our bodies have setbacks. Your  muscles will not be as strong and your commitment to a strong body may waiver too. One missed workout becomes two and pretty soon you’ve forgotten how those “feel good” endorphins make you feel. Every workout is like starting over and before long you lose your motivation.

   Moving our bodies regularly ensures it will last as long as we want it to. I think quality of life is much more important than quantity. Pressing that snooze button, working through lunch or sitting on the couch instead of doing regular exercise gets you into a bad habit of not exercising. Overcoming that feeling of not wanting to workout can be challenging.

   Try packing your gym bag or running shoes in the car in the morning that way you will have no excuse. Drive your car to the gym or your favorite running spot. Tell yourself just thirty minutes something is better than nothing. I’ll bet after that thirty minutes you’ll continue for at least another thirty. You know you will feel much better after you're done.

   A fellow trainer shared this great quote with me:

“The greatest irony of our physical life is that when we are young, we are willing to sacrifice every bit of our health for wealth, and when we grow old, we are willing to sacrifice so much of our wealth for just one day of health.”

Don’t let this happen to you. You do have control of how you live your life every minute of every day.

"People do not decide their future they decide their habits and their habits decide their future." - John C. Maxwell

Similarities of Challenges On The Trail and Real Life

August 11, 2014

   Last week my boyfriend and I backpacked 25 miles in 3 days in Yosemite. Although I consider it a relatively comfortable hike, the days revealed some interesting insights on how I deal with uncomfortable situations. Hiking is a mindful, focused, present activity - to be taken one step at a time, especially when I'm descending a steep trail or ascending a big hill.

   Life itself is a series of challenges whether large or small. How do we respond to daily life? Do we panic easily and become frantic or stay positive and energetic? Do we make small problems big or make big problems small and dissolve them into nothing? How we face the normal events of each day is generally how we will face the bigger challenges. 

   On the first day we started on the west end of Yosemite Valley and headed up the Pohono trail which was straight up for about 7 miles. It was hot and my backpack seemed heavier than last year. The excitement I had before our adventure now turned into me wondering about my endurance. The heavy pack seemed to make me a bit unstable and I found myself compensating for my equilibrium. Life sometimes gives us these same challenges. The excitement of a new job, relationship or move can all be planned to perfection but once it happens unexpected issues or things begin to occur. How we handle  these unforseen obstacles reveals alot about ourselves. 

   Do I try to repack my backback to make it more comfortable? Do I get rid of some of the weight? Do I find another route? Small persistant steps are what made the difference. It was all about finding what worked. For me, knowing that I have to keep trying until I find something that works is how I resolve the situation. And it worked out that I needed to lighten, repack and tighten some straps. Thankfully, someone was willing and able to take on more weight.

   The wonderful thing about backpacking, even a short trip like this one, is access to places that not many people attempt on a day hike. Each lookout we encountered on the south rim of Yosemite Valley was more breathtaking than the last until we reached Dewey Point, which is just astonishing. The location and views will leave you speechless. Dewey Point marked the end of our climb out of Yosemite Valley to the rim. From there it flattened out.

   We camped near the foot bridge that crosses Bridalveil Creek on the Pohono Trail. The quiet at night was wonderful. After a surprisingly good breakfast of freeze dried scramble eggs reconstituted with boiling water and some Slo Roasted coffee that Jason had put into filter paper sewed shut, we headed up the Bridalveil watershed. While the day before was strenuous with spectacular views that reminded me of my fear of heights, the second day of hiking was a little easier as we made our way through lush meadows with beautiful landscapes of wildflowers, brooks and trees. 

   We gathered water from Bridalveil Creek using a hand pump water purifier, making us truly appreciative every time we took a sip of water. Some raindrops and sandy rock facings were the challenge of the day as my hips were beginning to ache. Jason's heel was forming a nice blister and fatigue set in sooner than later. We decided to stop at Bridalveil campground for a freeze dried pea soup lunch and a picnic table to rest our tiring feet. When you get fatigued, sometimes simple problems can feel bigger than they are - a loose rock or an unsturdy bridge could have set us up for a new challenge. The unpredictability of life is often like this. Instead of just marching onward to get to our next destination as fast as possible, we both realized that more rest stops, even if brief, were what we needed. Our ability to be flexible got us to our destination injury free. We arrived at the top of Chilnualna Falls about an hour before sunset. The bonus was a light rain to lull us to sleep in our tent that night.

   The last day was all downhill for almost 5 miles, challenging our legs in a different way. The terrain included more waterfalls from Chilnualna Creek and steep rocky steps with switchback trails. The fear of heights became my companion. Trying to see the beautiful views without feeling ill was my goal. The rain from the night before brought clear blue skies and gnats galore. I swear, no matter how much repellent you use, they can detect a straight shot into your eyes. Those little annoying things that life throws at you shouldn't cloud the beauty of what the day brings. Learn to bounce back and not let these inconveniences ruin your experience. Being surrounded by the majestic mountains and beautiful waterfalls reminded me that there is so much to see and experience in my lifetime.

   We walked out of the wilderness at about noon, just in time for a lunch of a convenience store cold sandwich, chips, and a beer - it tasted as good as anything I've had at a five star restaurant!

   Getting to know myself a little better is an adventure in itself. And as long as I approach issues as a challenge then nothing truly is a problem. So I say let those challenges come and the adventures continue!