Fitness

10 Simple Cues to Improve Your Squat

10 Simple Cues to Improve Your Squat

Kelley Squatting

 

1) Feet just at shoulder with apart to allow proper depth for the squat.

2) Keep your hands close and not too far across the bar.  This helps to keep your chest up and body straight.

3) Pull your shoulder blades back and contract your core to maintain neutral spine.

 

 

 

4) Always make sure the plates are clipped in so there is no wobble to throw off your balance.

5) Inhale the breath and maintain intra thoracic pressure to help keep your core tight during the squat.  

6) Abduct and external rotate the legs in order to ensure the gluteal muscles are acting as the prime mover in the exercise.

Michaela Squatting
 
Ernest Squatting

7) Keep your eyes focused forward, perhaps on a specific spot which will help to maintain proper position.

8) Ensure your weight is back in the squat, and that the pressure is maintained across your mid foot.

9) Drive the knees outward as you come up from the squat, and do not let your legs come inward.

10) Lift with intensity and do not lift too slowly; ensure you are gaining power as well as strength.



Why I Put Down the Pizza and Decided Enough was Enough

…today, I didn’t recognize myself. Well, my old self to be more specific.

Tyler taking his picture taken

I realized this as I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a photo of some husky guy standing in shorts and a t-shirt on a nice sunny, spring day in a Calgary park. It took me several seconds to realize that Mr. Husky was in fact me, just 50+ lbs. heavier.

That photo was taken 2 years ago, and Facebook was serving it up as a nice, little memory. One thing that struck me about the photo, besides the weight, was that I looked quite happy. And I was happy, in that moment. But I was also struggling. I was eating emotionally, almost every day. For me, food was my only comfort. And I was avoiding exercise at all cost, because exercise was discomfort. Food was a way to numb my feelings. Exercise was a way to make me feel things, and that scared the heck out of me.


I often joked about how out of shape I was. When my work partner suggested we take the stairs at work instead of the elevator, my response was, “umm…that’s two stories. What am I, a superhero?” When another friend told me they were going running I replied, “Ugh, I only run when I’m chased.” Humour was my go-to, but my body wasn’t laughing. It was hurting. My body ached. I would sweat if I had to stand for more than 5 minutes. At my heaviest, I weighed 279lbs. I wore a 42-inch waist pant. I could only shop at certain stores. I wore a lot of button-down shirts undone over a white t-shirt, because I couldn’t get them done up around my stomach. Wearing them undone meant that even a slight breeze would send my shirt flying
open like I was a Backstreet Boy. I would try to hold my shirt down to hide my sizeable love handles, but to little avail. I knew things weren’t going well, size wise, when the pizza delivery guy expressed concern over how much I was ordering, how often and how much weight I was gaining.

But it wasn’t vanity that made me decide to adopt a new lifestyle. The turning point for me was being diagnosed with high blood pressure and severe sleep apnea, all in my early 30’s. That was the moment for me that made me realize I was hurting myself. I had allowed my body to get to a point that had serious consequences to my health, and that was unacceptable to me. My weight was no longer just an aesthetic issue. It wasn’t just affecting my self-esteem. It was now affecting my quality of life.

So, I decided to do something about it. First, I sought help from an amazing therapist who specializes in eating and relationships with food. That got me examining my feelings and how I was using food to cope. I started eating differently. I started realizing that short-term gains (feeling good for 15 minutes while stuffing my face with pizza, chips and chocolate) were not worth the long-term losses.

Tyler before and after pictures

After getting a good grasp on the emotional side, I knew I wanted to become more active but I didn’t know how. The gym intimidated me. Like a lot of beginners, the thought of not knowing what I was doing in the gym while surrounded by experienced, fit guys was enough to keep me away. I thought I would be judged. I decided that if I was going to do this, I wanted someone in my corner. I wanted an expert to show me the ropes, motivate me, teach me and help me accelerate my weight loss and put on muscle. And I wanted to be able to use my condo gym to do it. That’s when I Googled, “condo gym trainer” and came across Your House Fitness in Toronto. It was a perfect fit. I emailed them and heard back right away. Soon I was on a call with them and booking my first session with my trainer, Eric Zimmerman. The fitness journey had begun. I was scared. I was excited. I was nervous. It turned out that even though all those feelings were normal, I needed not worry. Eric was amazing. I explained that my main goal was weight loss, getting healthier and becoming lean. We developed a program that would help me do just that, with a focus on full-body, metabolic workouts several times a week, with minimal rest times in between sets - something that continues to keep me motivated to this day. For me, I wasn’t interested in the traditional bodybuilding approach to the gym and fitness. I wanted flexibility, movement, and to work towards overall fitness. I wanted functional, and Eric’s vision was a perfect fit for me.

Now I’m not going to lie. It hasn’t been easy. I wanted to give up several times. But Eric was there to encourage me. He still helps me realize that my body is more capable than I think it is – that I can finish that last set, even if it’s super hard because nothing bad is going to happen. I’m just going to get stronger. I can’t tell you how much that encouragement keeps me going.

It’s been 2 years on my journey to a healthier lifestyle. With the help from Eric and Your House Fitness, I have lost over 50lbs and I’m now in a 36 waist pants, belted up pretty tight, so probably headed soon to a 34. I take stairs now. I am doing intermittent fasting. I look forward to the gym. Friends, coworkers and family stop me and ask me what I did to lose the weight. I seem to get a lot more matches on Tinder. I feel more confident. But the best thing of all is that I no longer have high blood pressure. I don’t need any medication for it. My sleep apnea has improved a lot and I may be on my way to not having the condition in the future. My risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and more, is way way down. That is incredible and makes me so happy.

I continue to work out with Eric, and to reach new levels in my fitness. I am now looking forward to putting on more muscle and continuing to lose belly fat – the thing that is the most stubborn to come off. It’s getting there though. It’s less than half the size it used to be. And those love handles, they are falling off too. I won’t miss those.

Overall I have learned that healthier eating and fitness is not about perfection. It’s about making better choices as often as possible and respecting your body. It’s about not hiding from your emotions or fears. It’s about facing them, and working through them. And it’s so worth it. That feeling after a good workout, when you are energized and feel like you can conquer the world – there is nothing better. It sure beats the sluggish, achy, depressed way I used to feel when I spent so much time on my couch, eating chips, pizza and dessert. That’s not to say I don’t sneak a mini red velvet cupcake from Prairie Girl from time to time. Man, they’re delicious. I do however log that cupcake into my food tracker and continue on with my day. And
the pizza? I banned ordering it in for myself. Instead, if I’m really craving it, I buy the ready made thin-crust dough and make it myself so I have more control of what goes onto it and into my body. I also freeze half of what I make immediately for portion control. That way I get to have my pizza, and my health too.

Tyler Schell. Toronto. 36.
Instagram: @tylersdaytoday

Ps. This is me, today:

 
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How-to do Video Series: Dynamic Warm Up | Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic Warm Up | Dynamic Stretching

This video series will demonstrate how to incorporate specific dynamic stretches in your day to day life in order to keep your body primed for your training, sporting event, or athletic competition.

We focus on incorporating movement in all planes of motion, in order to teach effective, dynamic, and engaging exercises.  We strive to provide an environment that promotes not just strength building but also encourages maintenance and improvement of range of motion throughout life. 

Why dynamic stretching?

  • Warms up the muscles
  • Activates that muscles that will be used for the workout

Benefits of using dynamic stretching:

  • Helps to improve range of motion
  • Maximize movements
  • Improves performance and efficiency

All exercises can be done anywhere.

Our 21 how-to videos will cover all the muscle groups!

A New Benefit For Our Members

As part of our 3 year anniversary, we are excited to announce that we will be adding nutrition counselling and meal planning for all our members. 

Food is your body’s fuel, and without proper fuel, we cannot train at a high level. If we can’t train properly, we won’t hit our goals! We at Your House Fitness believe nutrition and fitness must be addressed together, and we want our members to reach their goals and maintain them for life!


That is why we at Your House Fitness have a personalized nutrition component for every one of our members! Our members receive a one-on-one meeting with our health coaches to help them put together a custom nutrition plan for them.


No gimmicks or crazy recipes, just appropriate tracking and modifications to ensure our members can maximize their full potential and get those results they’re after! No crash dieting and no crazy supplementation! Just real food choices and meal timing!

To get started send us a message by clicking on the button below.

We at Your House Fitness strive to offer the most personalized fitness experience to our members because we believe everyone deserves to live longer, healthier, happier lives.

 
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Art done by Randy Morales

 

GEEK ALERT! What Are Bioenergetics?

Humans have always longed to be stronger, be faster, lift more, run farther, and to continuously push themselves beyond what is normal. Understanding what fuels our body allows us to train smarter and more efficiently. Mammalian creatures rely on 3 different energy systems to create energy for working muscles. Those three systems are the Phosphagen System, Glycolysis, and the Oxidative System. All three systems create energy for the body, known as ATP and all humans need ATP for fuel inside their muscles. ATP, short for adenosine triphosphate, is what makes us move! ATP is the lifeblood of exercise and different types of exercise will use ATP differently in the body. With that in mind, no one energy system is dominating completely, but is merely the main producer of ATP when working at different intensities.

THE PHOSPHAGEN SYSTEM

The Phosphagen System provides energy to the body for very fast explosive types of exercise. Athletes like sprinters, powerlifters, and individuals who rely on quick explosive bouts of energy rely mostly on their Phosphagen System. While the Phosphagen System can create a large amount of energy and yield intense power, it is limited by the stored amount of ATP in the muscles, therefore after about 15-20 seconds, the body will start to rely on other energy systems to provide fuel to maintain the workload.

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GLYCOLYSIS

Glycolysis provides ATP to the body when the intensity of exercise can no longer be maintained by stored ATP in the muscles themselves, and now the ATP must be created by using muscle glycogen and glucose. Glycolysis can maintain high intensities for longer durations than the Phosphagen System, approximately 1-2 minutes, although it is still limited by the production of the enzyme pyruvate, and ultimately until the intensity of the workload can no longer be maintained and the Oxidative System takes over. There are many enzymatic reactions that occur to create ATP through glycolysis, with both creating pyruvate as the end byproduct. With anaerobic glycolysis pyruvate is converted into lactate and builds up in the blood, and is transported into the liver where it is used and converted back to glucose. Eventually the build up of lactate and other metabolic byproducts cause the muscle to fatigue, causing us to work at lower intensity. At the lower intensity, pyruvate is transported into the mitochondria of the cell, where oxygen is present, and becomes part of the Oxidative System.

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THE OXIDATIVE SYSTEM

When exercise intensity is lowered and oxygen present in the cell, pyruvate enters the mitochondria of the cell and undergoes what is known as the “Krebs Cycle” to create ATP from glucose and fatty acids. The mitochondria is like the power plant of the cell where ATP is generated. Marathon runners, rowers and other endurance athletes rely on the Oxidative System and the Krebs Cycle to fuel their muscles with ATP. While it can’t be produced as fast as Glycolysis or from the Phosphagen System, the Oxidative System can work indefinitely as long as the intensity of the exercise is maintained at or below the lactate threshold, and if there is a presence of oxygen within the mitochondria. When glucose and glycogen are depleted, fatty acids are also used as fuel in the Oxidative System to create ATP but require more processes to be broken down for energy, therefore take longer to yield ATP.

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No one process is only working at a given time. Different people are adapted to different styles of training and sport. Remember to train for the energy system that your sport or activity demands. If I am a sprinter, I want to train in short explosive bouts, if I am a rower I want to increase my body’s ability to use oxygen and build up endurance. Maximize your performance by training your body not just hard, but train smart!


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3 Tips to Help Keep That New Years Resolution

Set minigoals along the way

We all want the results now, and some even want it yesterday. Unfortunately, most quality goals take time and careful planning. When we set a goal, we want to think about the end goal, but also the steps in between, the little goals. While the end game might be to lose 50 pounds, we need to understand that there is a process and it just doesn’t happen instantaneously. So we set a mini or little goal. We start at 10 lbs, and set a target date, lets say approximately 2 months. That breaks it up to just 5 lbs a month! When we see the mini goal, it makes committing easier because our achievement date is closer if we stay on it! The end game is still in mind, but the plan is shorter, and makes gauging your progress easier as well. There is also less stress of only seeking a large result, and seeing slow progress.

Hailey
Do it for you and only for you

Remember and carefully think about why we want to achieve the goal we’re setting out for. Are we losing 50 pounds for our own health and fitness? For a career we want? For an event we want to do? Whatever the case is, ensure that the main reason you are doing this is for you! It’s ok to be selfish in this way. Wanting to better yourself and your health is a fantastic and fulfilling journey, but don’t do it because of what someone else thinks, or to please anybody else. Bettering yourself will unleash possibilities that you never dreamed possible, and will make you stronger not only physically, but mentally as well. Use your goal to inspire others, not to conform to their expectations of you. Be independent, and remember that your happiness is always most important goal.

Alex and Jenny
Don't let setbacks stop you!

We are not super beings, and we are not immune to personal and physical challenges. There might be times where you’re tired, sick, didn’t hit your monthly goal, or where you’ve missed training for a week or two. Setbacks will happen, and you must try and see them as challenges to make you stronger. Even the Instagram socialites who seem to have it all together, trust me, they do not. Stick to your plan and don’t get worked up on how others are doing. The struggle is part of the journey, and just like a tough set on the bar, we must dig deep and give what we have! Of course, some days we didn’t lift quite how we want, or didn’t get to the gym on time, but never let a setback make you quit. Move on to the next workout and forget about the past. If injured, do seek professional guidance on how to train around an injury, as there a countless ways to keep on your fitness goal. Talk to your doctor, or physiotherapist on options in the event of injury. Mostly, be proud of working out on those days when it sucks, because those are the days that count. Each time you get up for that session, or push that extra rep is a little victory on the road to your ultimate goal. Be happy, be healthy, and stay the course!

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Technique Talk: Barbell Conventional Deadlift

The deadlift is essentially picking up a load from the ground and lowering it.  While the action seems simple, there are many steps that must be followed in order to perform the deadlift safely and correctly.  The deadlift is a compound movement, requiring action at multiple joints, therefore utilizing more than just the gluteal muscles or quadriceps alone.  

Individuals who have never performed the deadlift should seek the knowledge of an experienced and qualified trainer or exercise professional.  Performing a deadlift incorrectly can have extremely negative consequences, but when performed correctly it can add more explosive leg power, core strength, which will ultimately help in gaining lean muscle mass.


Anterior & Posterior View

 1. Brace your core  2. Place feet shoulder width apart  3. Place barbell touching shins

1. Brace your core

2. Place feet shoulder width apart

3. Place barbell touching shins

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 4. Hinge forward from the hips  5. Maintain neutral spine  6. Make sure the hips are below the shoulders

4. Hinge forward from the hips

5. Maintain neutral spine

6. Make sure the hips are below the shoulders

 7. Inhale and grab the bar  8. Roll shoulders back  9. Engage the upper back

7. Inhale and grab the bar

8. Roll shoulders back

9. Engage the upper back

 10. Make sure knees are caving out  11. Extend up  12. Exhale

10. Make sure knees are caving out

11. Extend up

12. Exhale


Bracing

It’s extremely important that the lifter knows the concept of bracing. Engaging your core. Inhale and contract your stomach, almost as if ready to take a punch.  Maintain pursed breathing to keep the abdominal muscles and diaphragm engaged.  Do not ever lose your core bracing as this is crucial to maintaining proper form throughout the lift.


Breakdown: Leg Mechanics - Hip Mechanics

   Full Mechanics

 Full Mechanics

  Ankle To Knee Mechanics

Ankle To Knee Mechanics

  Knee to Hips Mechanics

Knee to Hips Mechanics

Practice makes perfect. Use a dowel or a broom stick to learn the proper form. Always remember to keep it close to the body. 


 Pronated Grip Vs Mixed Grip

Pronated Grip: Less Grip - More Torque

Mixed Gip: More Grip - Less Torque

Pronated Grip: Develops grip strength and allows you to engage your upper back.

Mixed Grip: Causes less fatigue on the forearms. Improves grip on the bar by stopping the rotation of the barbell.

I would start with a pronated grip, once grip strength starts fatiguing I would switch to a mixed grip. Again, the more you use the pronated grip the stronger your forearms will become and the less need for a mixed grip.


Dos and Don't

Bending of the Spine Vs Neutral Spine

The spine is at its best when is aligned. If it's bent it won't be as powerful and stable upon impact.


knees caving in vs knees caving out

Knees coming inward, known as valgus stress, places excessive strain on the medial compartment of the knee, increasing the risk of serious injury.  As well, there is no torque created along the femur, causing other muscles to compensate, such as the quadratus lumborum and erector spinae, which could lead to injuries and imbalances in the hips and lower back.

Driving the knees outward is crucial to completing the lift.  We want to create torque along the femur and into the hips to engage all necessary muscles (glutes, quads, hamstrings).  By driving the knees outward we create even more tension and ensure that the muscles track appropriately along their anatomical lines, avoiding injuries in the knees, hips and spine.


Disengaged back vs engaged back

The engagement of the shoulders, especially the rear deltoids, rhomboids, and latissimus dorsi, is crucial in maintaining a neutral spine.  The arms must be pulled back, and pinching the side of the body.  This creates torque along the humerus and into the shoulder compartment, maintaining form in the thoracic spine. 


barbell away from the shins vs barbell close to the shins

Ensure to start with the bar close to the body.  Having the bar far from the body increases the shear force in the back, ultimately causing strain and potential injury.  Have the bar right under the shoulders to ensure proper mechanics, and to maximize the potential of the lift.  


Benefits of Deadlifting

  • Core Stability
  • Core Strength
  • Targets all major muscle groups
  • Increase overall strength
  • Foundational movement
  • Increase cardio output
  • One of the best goddamn exercises in the world and you look badass doing it!
  • Increase grip strength
  • Everyday activities get easier

 

 

10 Plank Variations That Will Build Core Strength

In this video, we will demonstrate 10 variations of a plank. 

Want to improve your core? Isometric exercises (i.e. the plank) are your best bet. The function of the core is to protect the spine by remaining stiff and transferring energy between your limbs; isometric core exercises do just that.

TIP: It helps me push when I put a song that I like.  80s songs like that's all lyrics are my favourite for planks! Time passes quicker.

Your House Clinic

YOUR HOUSE CLINIC

A PLACE TO ESCAPE THE CITY GRIND IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN TORONTO'S ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT

During our summer spell, we have not been very active on our blog.

Over the last few months, we've spent a lot of time getting acquainted with our new studio, Your House Clinic.

Located in the heart of the entertainment district beside the Soho Metropolitan Hotel, this private boutique brings a fresh and special connection, combining our inbound and outbound health and fitness professionals, offering a full range of services that are convenient for everybody in Toronto.

Clients at Your House Fitness can now receive a recommendation internally from their trainer.

Our kinesiology experience is very unique, offering a wide range of skills from our health professionals, bringing corrective, rehabilitative and sport specific training to the next level.

Whether its at home or at our studio, we can cover your kinesiology and personal training needs.

 

  • Registered Kinesiologists
  • Multi-Certified Personal Trainers
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YOUR HOUSE FITNESS

OUR IN HOME PERSONAL TRAINING TEAM CAN NOW TRAIN YOU IN THE STUDIO AT YOUR HOUSE CLINIC

The elite team of Your House Fitness comes to you from the early mornings to late evenings at your own residence. Now we can provide an additional service if you do not have a gym or an adequate home setting.

The studio is also open to workshops and seminars for all clients of YHF to attend.

Our private personal training studio has proven to be popular for a few reasons

  • All Day Personal Training
  • Suitable For Office Clientele in The Financial District
  • Located in the Entertainment District
  • Private For Your Session Only
  • Free Towel And Beverage Service
  • Shower Facilities

For more information click on the link below:

https://www.yourhousefitness.com/personal-training-in-studio/ 


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For more information click on the link below:

https://www.yourhouseclinic.com/ 


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Support Alecia for the Olympics

Alecia Stewart Personal Trainer

Alecia Beckford- Stewart is a Canadian athlete who has harnessed her athletic prowess and entered the amazing winter sport of Bobsleigh. Alecia attended the University of Illinois on a full track and field scholarship where she received a Bachelor in Science focus in Kinesiology and Exercise Science as well as a minor in Chemistry. She has competed at the international level as a heptathlete and is currently on the Canadian Bobsleigh team.

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Bobsleigh requires speed, power, strength and a desire to improve with every rep, set and step. It is a speed centric sport around chasing numbers down to the hundredth of a second. Alecia trains 6 days a week, about 5-6 hours a day. Her training includes Olympic lifting (squats, cleans, snatches, bench press etc), sprint training, sled pushes, plyometrics, core stability, mental imagery and to seal it all together maintaining a well balanced diet and recovery plan. The bobsleigh season is from October to March and during the off-season months (April to September) Alecia finds a way to balance all the necessary training with working to help support her athletic endeavors. In fact, it is like working two full time jobs and can be extremely physically and mentally demanding however her drive to succeed outweighs the hardships that she may face.

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Alecia has aspired toward excellence in sports since the tender age of three starting with gymnastics and evolving constantly within athletics. Her passion has only grown over the years and hopes that a life-long dream of representing Canada in the Olympics will come to pass this February at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeong Chang, South Korea. Alecia will head out to Calgary, Alberta which is the home base for Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton and be evaluated during the National Bobsleigh Program team testing camp this August and September. The results from these testing camps will decide the 2017/2018 Canadian National Team and bring her one step closer to being on the 2018 Canadian Olympic team, which will be announced in January 2018. If you would like to follow her journey or help toward her continued success please visit her at https://www.gofundme.com/Bobsledbex


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Alecia Stewart is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON. To view his profile click on his name.


You Are Your Greatest Motivational Tool

As a personal trainer, I’m always being asked questions about workouts, nutrition, supplements and physique, but there is one question that gets asked more than any other.

HOW DO YOU MOTIVATE YOURSELF TO WORKOUT?

This has always been the hardest question to answer.  It was never something I paid much attention to, or gave much thought.  In my head, my body felt like a machine, and a machine needs to be running consistently to not break down.  I never gave a lot of other thought to it, but rather scientifically concluded that I MUST TRAIN, and TRAIN HARD!

I had felt what happens when you let your body become sedentary, train improperly and neglect nutrition.  Recovering from shoulder surgery and hernia surgery were big wake up calls. There was no way I was going to be out of shape for the rest of my life, I needed to make a change and start moving.

So I started walking.  5 minutes became 10 minutes.  10 minutes became 20 minutes.  Eventually, an hour passed, then 2.  I realized what amazing organisms we humans are, how resilient we are, how quickly we recover with activity and how intricately we’ve been fashioned to move, swim, run and jump.  One year became two years, two became four.  Now I stand before you all as a completely new person.

…. but it STARTED with 5 minutes.

So I guess my greatest motivational tool is keeping just a little picture of my old self in the back of my mind.  I keep a picture of him there as a constant reminder of what can happen when we slack off, the consequence of neglect of our body, and how incredibly hard I’ve worked to become a better, healthier person.  I myself am my greatest friend, I am my motivator, but I can sometimes be my own enemy.

I always tell my clients, “I can’t make you do the workouts, I can’t make you eat right.  The CHOICE is always YOURS.  Every small decision to try and be better, from doing one more rep, to saying no to that cheat meal is a reflection of YOU and YOUR DEDICATION TO YOUR GOALS.”

Make your choices victorious, and always learn from your mistakes. Take every little victory you can, use them to empower the next battle. Before you know it, time will pass and a better you will emerge. Stay Happy and Healthy.


Eric Zimmerman is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON. To view his profile click on his name.


5 Full Body Exercises Everyone Should Be Doing

Some exercises are definitely more beneficial than others. This is partially because they strengthen important muscles in your body which are crucial to your overall health and fitness. If you have ever worked with a personal trainer, you probably noticed that they often focus on squats, deadlifts, push-ups, chin-ups and planks. Let's take a closer look at each of the aforementioned exercises.


Squats

The squat is a fantastic multi-joint full body exercise. It primarily works the glutes, quads and hamstrings. To a lesser extent, squats have a positive impact on core and back strength, especially when you do them with weight. In order to properly perform a squat, stand with your toes pointed outward and your feet a little more than hip width apart. Lower yourself down so that your thighs end up parallel with the floor. You should keep all the weight in your heels and try not to let your knees go past your toes. In order to avoid arching your back, engage your core especially as you increase the weight you are squatting.

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Goblin Squat

Deadlifts

When it comes to full-body strength training, the deadlift is one of the best compound exercises you can do. Deadlifts are great for your hamstrings and glutes. Not only that, but you will also get a stronger core and lower back. Having a strong lower back will help prevent back injuries later in life. Lastly, it improves grip strength because you must hold on to the bar as you are lifting it. In order to properly perform a deadlift, your back must stay neutral or you will risk injury.

Push-Ups

One of the best things about push-ups is that you can do them at any time anywhere. You don't need to invest in any expensive gym equipment and you will still be able to work many muscle groups. Push-ups help strengthen your pectoral muscles, triceps, deltoids, as well as the core. In order to perform a proper pushup, start out in the high plank position with your hands under your shoulders. Then, engage your core, glutes and hamstrings. While keeping your body straight, lower yourself by bending at the elbows until they are at ninety degrees or your chest touches the ground. However, do not lay down on your stomach or this will defeat the purpose of the exercise.  After that, push yourself back up to complete the movement.

Chin-Ups

Chin-ups are the king of upper body exercises. They work your biceps, latissimus dorsi, teres major, infraspinatus and core. Additionally, chin-ups will help you improve your grip strength because you have to hold on to the bar while lifting your body up. To perform a chin up, grab the bar with your hands facing towards you. Pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar. Then, lower yourself in a controlled fashion.

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Planks

The plank is an isometric exercise which helps improve your core strength and posture. Depending on the type of plank you are doing, you will be able to strengthen your rectus abdominis as well as your obliques. There are many variations of the plank, including: high plank (arms straight), low plank (on your elbows), front plank and side plank. Regardless of the type of plank you are doing, in order for the exercise to be effective, you must be sure to keep your body straight and your core engaged for the duration of the hold.

As we can see, the aforementioned exercises work all the major muscle groups in the body and they are very effective. If you are unsure of how to perform any of these movements, then it's recommended that you consult a personal trainer who will teach you proper exercise form.


Sergio Pedemonte is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON.

The Benefits of Exercising Outdoors

The world of fitness seems to be in a continuous state of flux. Newer fitness techniques seem to be emerging every other day, some unique and some rather odd. Fitness regimes today include everything from different dance styles to complex gym machines and what not. Hectic lifestyles mean that more and more people are turning to different fitness regimes to keep themselves healthy. But what about the old school outdoor exercise? A brief perusal of doctor's advice columns in the newspapers clearly shows that the medical community still believes that jogging, walking and simple outdoor exercises are the key to keeping diseases away. Most true personal trainers and fitness experts will also not hesitate to tell you a thing or two on why exercising outdoors is great.

Sometimes we get so caught up visiting the gym that we forget about the advantages of exercising outdoors. You can find many advantages of getting outside and leaving the gymnasium behind. We're doing our bodies a favour, when we leave the confines of a fitness center and head outside. While there are many advantages of exercising outdoors, here are a few of them to get started with:

 

Mental Well-Being

There was a recent study that demonstrated an increase in mental well-being when exercise was performed outside. It enhances our disposition, releases tensions, and revitalizes us, when we work out outside.

 

Vitamin D

There have been many studies lately that corroborate the claims of an increase in levels of Vitamin D. This indisputably is extremely beneficial to our and there is no better way to raise those levels than to get outside and snatch a feel of the sun.

 

Fresh Air

Fresh air does a lot to the body and mind. Occasionally the atmosphere in houses and buildings may be rancid and polluted. Exercising outdoors gives us a chance to inhale fresh air which is highly recommended. 

 

It's Fun

Let's face it. Running on that treadmill for 45 minutes can get rather monotonous. Spinning on a cycle for an hour is very tedious. There are a lot of things to do outside. The terrain offers many options. Every one of this option will definitely keep the mind occupied and thinking. Inside we generally either watch TV or pay attention to music to pass time. Listening to music and watching TV keeps your mind occupied but not focused at the task at hand. It is fine to let your thoughts have a break from your distractions and to head outside to get a jog.

 

It's Free

Gym membership fees seem to creep up in cost through the years, just like everything else. Wish to exercise at no cost? Head outdoors and get started. Equipment is required by some tasks of course. In the event you're already going to the fitness center you almost certainly have a good pair of running shoes. With those shoes you can walk, run, jog, or trek outside.

 

There are different possible activities to perform outside. One thing to keep in mind would be to pick activities that get your heartbeat up to get the most benefit. Several exercises you can try out are running, walking, hiking, and cycling. While you are outside and attempting to change your exercise routines, don’t head for the park or run laps on the track. Instead find a route through an area and hit the trail. If you can’t run, find a good trail someplace with varied terrain and just walk, if you appreciate walking. Get on your own bike and explore different places you generally don't get to visit. Obtain a mountain bike and locate some enjoyable trails to ride.

As you can discern, it sounds sensible to escape the gym occasionally and head outdoors. Clearly you'll not be able to replace your gym activities all with outdoor activities. You'll still need the gym for weight lifting as well as for all those bad weather days. Additionally while exercising outside remember to be safe. Be cautious about traffic and stay hydrated. It's always safer and much more fun to work out having a personal trainer too.


Sergio Pedemonte is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON.

The Difference Between Jogging, Running and Sprinting

There is definitely a big difference between jogging, running and sprinting. Therefore, it's not a surprise that runners hate being called joggers, although far too many people use those terms interchangeably. The only thing that makes running and jogging even remotely similar is that they are both forms of aerobic exercises. Sprinting, however, falls in its own separate category.  Let's examine what makes those three activities so different from each other.


 Jogging

Jogging

First, jogging requires a lot less effort than running because it's a less intense form of aerobic exercise. One of the biggest differences is, of course, the pace. In order for a jog to be considered a run, a person's pace should be about 10 minutes per mile or faster. Anything slower than 10 minutes per mile is generally considered a jog. Keep in mind, however, that pace is often subjective. Therefore, for some people, a 14 minute mile may feel like a run if they are starting their fitness journey.

 

Here' my advice to make your treadmill jog less boring. Play episodes like Real Fake Doors from Rick and Morty or any good comedy.


 Running

Running

Although jogging and running both use the aerobic system, jogging will allow you to burn a higher percentage of fat relative to carbohydrates. When you are running, you still burn fat but your body will also demand more carbohydrates than if you were just jogging. Running takes far more energy than jogging and it definitely burns more calories. Think of jogging as something that runners do to warm up before they race a 10k or a half marathon while shooting for a personal best time.


 Sprinting

Sprinting

Sprinting, on the other hand, requires a completely different energy system and is therefore in its own category.  It uses the anaerobic energy system, which means that it does not require oxygen. However, since oxygen is not used, we are not meant to sprint for long periods of time. Sprinting is usually used to describe an activity that requires you to go full out for less than 600m. When you are sprinting, you are going as fast as you can and it is very intense. After finishing your sprint, you are forced to breathe extremely hard in order to make up for the oxygen deficit that you encountered during it. Anaerobic activity falls into two categories: lactate and phosphocreatine. You can rely on the phosphocreatine system if you are doing a sprint that lasts less than 20 seconds. However, if you have to go as fast as you can for over 20 seconds but for less than three minutes, you will need to rely on the lactate system. After the initial three minutes of sprinting, it becomes very difficult to maintain that pace. With that in mind, you are forced to slow down to a more comfortable running pace in order to clear the lactic acid from your body. If you are still having difficulty with lactic acid, you may need to reduce your pace to a jog until you are able to speed up again.


As we can see, apart from the differences in pace and effort, sprinting, running and jogging use different energy systems. For this reason, it is important that if you decide to integrate one of these into your daily or weekly routine that it will help, not go against, your fitness goals.

Finally, remember to stretch after every jog, run, or sprint to decrease injuries. Also, make sure you visit your massage therapist, to speed up the recovery process of your muscles.



Sergio Pedemonte is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON.


10 Ways to Fix Weight Loss Mistakes

We've all been there before: doing cardio for hours, skipping meals (only to binge eat after), obsessing over the number on the scale... all to try and optimize our weight loss goals. The truth is these are just a few of the mistakes we make while on our weight loss journey that can really throw us off our track. Here's how to fix them:

 

1. Stop Overeating Protein

Some often believe that consuming more protein per meal serving will make you feel fuller and thus help you not overeat carbohydrates. The issue is that the body has a limit to how much it can absorb, so after the required intake is met the remaining gets flushed out of your system or turned into fat storage. The solution is to eat 20 - 30 grams per meal serving (for example: 1 chicken breast the size of your fist).

 

 

2. Strength Training Is Your Best Friend

Many people are under the misconception that the only way to lose weight is by doing cardio. No! Not only does strength training get your body to burn calories and tone up during the workout, but it helps accelerate your metabolism so you are burning calories even hours after finishing your workout.


 

 

3. Focus on Good Carbs, Not Bad Carbs

Drop the white bread! Simple carbs only make your sugar levels spike and leave you wanting to eat more. Complex carbs, on the other hand, keep you fuller and satisfied for longer periods of time (for example: sweet potatoes, black beans and quinoa).

 

 

 

4. It's Not a Cheat Day, It's a Cheat Meal

Don’t binge eat a whole day and then diet for the rest of the week. This will only keep your bad food habits going and will strip you off the energy you need to be more active! Instead, indulge yourself with a cheat meal once a week to keep you on track.

 

 

 

5. Avoid Skipping Meals

If you're accustomed to eating 3 - 4 times a day and you decide to skip a couple of meals, your body will know and react accordingly. Extreme calories restriction tells the body to store the next meal as fat storage. Why? Because your body now doesn’t know when it will get the next meal. Focus on eating more frequent meals while paying close attention to the portion size.

 

 

6. Sleep Is Key to Losing Weight

The real work happens while you're a sleeping. While sleeping, the body focuses on repairing itself which it needs to keep you in tip top shape for your fitness program. Not sleeping can also wreak havoc to your weight loss plan, by causing your cortisol levels to increase causing your appetite to get out of control.

 

 

7. Thinking You Don’t Have Enough Time

The busy excuse. We have all heard it before. “I'm too busy to go to the gym today”. “I don’t have time to make a home-cooked meal”. Think again. Focus on short daily workouts that last 10 to 20 minutes. Also, skip the takeout and opt for meals using easy-to-cook, wholesome ingredients like quinoa or kale. It’s better than the alternative!


 

 

8. Keep Your Program Fresh to Avoid Plateauing

Stop doing the same workouts with the same weights, sets, repetitions and rest times. Spice it up: go to a spinning class one week and then go to a strength training class the next. If you're having difficulty setting yourself up with a program get in touch with a personal trainer to set you up with weekly or bi-weekly exercise programs that you can easily follow.
 

 

 

9. Be Consistent with Staying Active

Don't expect results to come your way if you're actively working out one week and sitting on the coach watching Netflix the next. Remember thought that it’s not always about going to the gym. Try to include physical recreational activities to your day (for example: rock climbing, playing soccer, going for a nice walk, swimming). One of my two favorite things to do in my free time are boxing and axe throwing.

 

 

10.  Don't Weigh Yourself Everyday

The body’s weight fluctuates a lot, so avoid obsessively weighing yourself everyday. While you're seeing the number on the scale go down you will be happy, but any minimal increase will have you yourself on what you did wrong. Water retention or even the time of day can affect your weight. Focus on only weighing yourself once a week or bi-weekly to keep everything in perspective.

 

 

Do any of these resonate with you? Are there any other mistakes you keep on making over and over? Let me know in the comments!


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Sergio Pedemonte is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON.


5 Best Post-Workout Foods to Optimize Fat Loss

Nutrition is always of the utmost importance when it comes to reaching your health and fitness goals and getting the most out of your personal training sessions. Let’s dive into some great options that can help you maximize the results you are looking for, and get you in recovery mode.


Lean Meats

 
 

If you have ever talked to a personal trainer about post workout nutrition, one of the first things they have probably mentioned is that your body needs protein ASAP after you workout. Wait! Don’t throw that steak on the grill just yet. If your goal is fat loss, then your best bet is sticking to lean meats like chicken or turkey. If you’re really feeling beefy then opt for some extra lean ground beef (5% fat or lower). These lean meats will provide you with the protein needed to refuel and rebuild your muscles after putting them through an intense personal training session.

We get our lean meats delivered by TruLOCAL. They are a monthly meat delivery service that offer locally sourced meat products delivered to your door. 


Veggies

 
 

Everyone has some sort of connection with veggies-- you either hate them or you love them. Your body loves them. This goes for especially after a grueling workout because of the essential vitamins and minerals - but there’s a catch. Reaching for the veggies in the fridge? Make sure you cook them. Raw veggies after a workout tend to take up space in your belly while not giving you enough calories to refuel your body. The solution? Cook your veggies and make sure that you serve them up along side some protein and complex carbs for an added nutritional boost and a complete meal.


Complex Carbs

 
 

Besides protein, your body relies on carbohydrates to kick-start the recovery process. However, your personal trainer and your fat loss goals beg you to stay away from sugary sports drinks that “promote recovery.” Drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are an easy way to pack your body with simple carbs in the form of sugar, but if you’re serious about your fat loss goals, then you are much better off choosing complex carbs instead. Go for carbs like brown rice to help you with your recovery process and keep you full longer.


Greek Yogurt

 
 

Greek yogurt is the mecca for quick and healthy protein sources because it contains a high amount of protein. You already know that this getting enough protein in after your personal training sessions, help optimize fat loss because protein does a great job with keeping you full and satisfied. It also aids in your muscle repair. Many Greek yogurts contain the added benefit of probiotics for your gut health and have healthy fats. This is a must have snack to add to your grocery list if you want to maximize your protein intake.


Healthy Fats

 
 

Yes, you must eat fat to keep your body running at optimal levels - which your body loves and craves. When you are on a weight loss journey and working with a personal trainer to guide you nutritionally, you may learn that adding fats to your diet is a great way to stay full as well. Keep in mind the amount of calories you're consuming when eating healthy fats. For instance, two tablespoon of peanut butter is about 190 calories and half an avocado is about 130 calories, and can actually deter you from your weight loss goals if you’re not careful.

Learn more about the best cooking fats and oils.


You have to be putting the right fuel into your body for it to work properly, which is why the saying goes, abs are made in the kitchen. When you have weight loss goals, it’s best to consider options that will move you into that direction when you complete a personal training session for the day.


Sergio Pedemonte is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON.

5 Best Energizing Pre-Workout Snacks

Your personal trainer reminds you that you don’t need to be reaching for your favorite pre-workout supplement or coffee to give you a boost to complete your workouts. Sometimes the greatest boost comes from the foods sitting right in your pantry or refrigerator. After all, food is fuel! These pre-workout snacks will help increase your stamina during any workout and help you finish strong.


Protein Shakes

 
 

This pre-workout snack is a classic go-to in the fitness world and recommended during personal training sessions. Drinking a protein shake before your workout will ensure that you’re not focusing on hunger - the fiber and protein content will keep you satisfied. When you drink a protein shake, you won’t feel heavy/bloated feeling or experience problems with digestion due to it being a liquid. Drinking a protein shake before your personal training sessions will allow you to maximize muscle growth from the added protein.


Bananas

 
 

This tried and true snack is always a great go-to before a personal training session. Bananas are filled with water and simple carbs that go straight to your bloodstream, which energizes you quickly. Bananas are filled with fiber, which helps you stay full and keep you satisfied. Bananas are the top choice over any other fruit by personal trainers because of their unique composition. The carbohydrates in bananas are very digestible and contain potassium - a nutrient that helps with your muscle function.


Oatmeal

 
 

If you don’t love oatmeal, you’re missing out. Oatmeal can be eaten in a wide variety of ways, making it a popular choice recommended by personal trainers. Oats are a good source of complex carbs, meaning your body will digest it slowly and use it over time to give you maximum energy. Complex carbs, such as oats, only result in a small increase in blood sugar levels, so you won’t feel like you want to crash while during your personal training session.


Whole Grain Bread + Peanut Butter

 
 

Whole grain contains complex carbs which digests slowly like oatmeal so are ideal to consume before a personal training session. If you add a healthy fat such as peanut or almond butter, this light meal is sure to satisfy and give you enough energy to crush your workout without weighing you down. The added peanut or almond butter is sure to make you feel powerful during your workout. The protein, fiber, and healthy fat combination that peanut and almond butter provide, is the perfect energy source if you need something quick before training. For added health benefits, go for an all-natural brand of peanut or almond butter that doesn’t include any extra sugar or unhealthy oils.


Berries + Yogurt

 
 

Like bananas, this fruit is a source of simple carbs that will be digested easily and rapidly into your body giving you increased energy effects. The truth is, berries of all kinds will give you a colorful, fiber-filled snack that fuels you up with healthy protein and fat. As an added bonus, berries are full of antioxidants which helps decrease free radicals in your body, which destroys your cells. Let’s not forget to mention that berries, as in any fruit have high water content, making perfect for increasing body hydration before your personal training session. Greek yogurt is beneficial for the high protein intake, which helps with satiety, and building/repairing your muscles.


Don’t feel like you need to overeat before your next personal training session. You need to feel comfortable but not uncomfortably hungry during a workout. It’s best to consume all snacks at least 30 minutes before so the energy effects can start getting to work!


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Sergio Pedemonte is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON.


How-To Video Series: Muscle Release & Activation | Muscle Activation Technique


Muscle Release & Activation | Muscle Activation Technique

We all know it's important to stretch after a workout to reduce recovery time, but what if there was something that took it one step further and made your workouts even more effective? This is where muscle release & activation comes in.

Why release & activation?

  • Release: Gets rid of pain and restores range of motion of the muscle
  • Activation: Waking up the muscle (making sure the muscle is firing at 100%)

Benefits of using release and activation

  • Reduces pain
  • No compensation of muscles that aren’t supposed to be targeted
  • Reduces injuries
  • Increased strength and flexibility
  • Improve performance

The best part is you don't even need to go to the gym to do these. All you need is an exercise band (or a few, if you want to vary the resistance), a lacrosse ball and yourself.

Our 7 how-to videos cover all the important muscle groups in your upper and lower body. Give it a try!

 
 

Sergio Pedemonte & Eric Zimmerman are Your House Fitness personal trainers based in Toronto, ON.


Lucky 7: The 7 Benefits to Exercise for Your Mental Health

Most people go to the gym or work out to improve their health, build muscle, and have a fitter body. However, exercise can have tremendous impact on our brain and overall mental health.

The next time you debate whether to go work out, consider the following benefits:

1. Stress Reduction – Tough day at work? Consider taking a long walk, or making a quick trip to the gym. The most common mental benefit of exercise is stress relief; it increases levels of norepinephrine, a chemical that regulates the brain’s response to stress.

2. Boosts Happy Brain Chemicals – The next time you think, “I hate the treadmill,” remember that your brain loves it. Exercise releases endorphins that are responsible for feelings of euphoria and happiness. If you suffer from depression, or are feeling a bit down, consider adding exercise to your regimen. You don’t have to spent hours in the gym to reap the benefits; 30 minute workouts a few times a week can do the trick. 

3. Confidence Booster – We often go into a workout kicking and screaming, but it’s rare to find someone post-workout who has regrets. That’s because not only do you feel good post-workout, but you often look it. Regardless of whether you’re seeing noticeable results, exercise can swiftly increase our perceptions of self-worth. As we continue, the obvious physical changes only solidify our positive relationship with ourselves.

4. Vitamin Gain – If you’re one who takes his or her workout outside, be prepared for more than just fresh air. Sunshine not only provides our body with Vitamin D, but it also helps reduce depressive symptoms. There’s more to just running to be done outside, too. Consider cycling, yoga, rowing, or a grab a few friends and consider joining a league.

5. Help Your Brain – As much as we hate to admit it, aging impacts the body and the brain. However, exercise has been show to have a remarkable impact on slowing aging of both, including helping to prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s or even to combat Osteoporosis. As we’ve learned from recent research, exercise can even grow new brain cells. Even though you won’t be able to see it, exercise results in a healthier, sexier brain.

6. Maximizing Memory – Memory not what it used to be? Exercise can help with that. Just like with preventing diseases and aging, exercises knack for stimulating your hippocampus boosts your memory and helps you to retain information when learning new things. Studying a new language? Schedule in routine workouts to maximize your likelihood of success.

7. Controlling Addiction – Dopamine—the principal chemical responsible for pleasure—is also what drives addiction. We just can’t get enough of it. However, instead of turning to drugs, alcohol, or food for a dopamine release, consider exercise. Not only does exercise help in addition recovery, but it helps you prioritize your dopamine cravings.

Of course, regular exercise is just one strategy to promote mental wellness. If you are feeling overwhelmed with stress, anxiety, or sadness, mental health counselling can be an essential part of taking care of yourself. However, the next time you’re trying to motivate yourself to hit the gym, remember: your body AND your brain will thank you.


This article was written by Megan Rafuse, MSW RSW. Megan is a social worker, clinical therapist, and the founder and clinical director of SHIFT. SHIFT is Toronto's premier therapy clinic, with a keen focus on being relatable, honest, and friendly. 

SHIFT is collaborative therapy clinic aimed at doing things a little bit differently to support your mental health needs. You can find us in Yorkville, Toronto and we have diverse training in all areas. In addition to our in-office sessions, we offer e-Counselling and workshops—many of which are free.

Transforming your body is important, but so is transforming your mind. We are ready for some change, and so are you.

You can visit our website at shiftcollab.com, email us at info@shiftcollab.com, or call us at 416-962-8255 to schedule a session today.


Why Strength Training Is Important For Everyone

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When it comes to strength training with a personal trainer, things often seem very one sided. You’ve probably noticed that male bodies traditionally dominate almost all of the precious space in any given weight room. These men often look extremely buff and sometimes can be heard grunting - a scenario that can leave a novice and the large majority of women, extremely intimidated. This is when self-doubt and lack of motivation creeps in. You may find yourself questioning if you even deserve a space in that weight room.

In terms of health and fitness, this gym intimidation is a top barrier, but things are changing. Let us set the record straight - strength training is important for everyone, and not just something your local personal trainer spews for fun. Everyone who is looking to reach his or her health fitness goals can benefit from strength training greatly.

The Big Deal

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Many people believe that strength training is only for the men that want to be extremely buff and hang out in the gym 24/7. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Strength training is an essential part of any personal training program because stronger muscles results in a stronger body overall. Here are just some of the benefits:

●      Improved posture

●      Improved body mechanics such as balance and coordination

●      Toned muscles

●      Increased fat loss

●      Protects bones

●      Decrease injury risk

Okay, so now you’ve decided that you want to start a strength-training program with your personal trainer for the benefits, but you don’t need to lift more than 5-10lbs right?

Not quite.

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This really isn’t an issue seen with men, but it can be detrimental to the physical progress of a woman that desires to have a better physique and tone up. Women tend to stay away from personal trainers that want them to lift heavy weights because many believe they will bulk up just like a man. Let’s set another record straight - most women don’t eat enough or have enough testosterone to become overly muscular. Strength training benefits a woman’s body by giving her fabulous muscle tone and the curves she desires.

 

Fat Loss

Both sexes can benefit from the increased fat loss benefit. If a personal trainer hasn’t trained you lately, you probably believe that doing more cardio is the only way to go when you have fat loss goals. An amazing benefit of strength training is that it will increase your metabolism and produce much greater fat burn in your body than classic cardio.

Your body may burn a significant amount of calories from your cardio sessions, but after your session is done, you stop burning for the day. Strength training is a form of HIIT (High intensity Interval Training) and is much more effective than cardio because it burns calories both during and after exercise. Essentially, when you do any HIIT workout, your body and metabolism function at a higher rate of burned calories for up to 36 hours afterwards. You are guaranteed at least three times the amount of fat loss with half of the exercise time since HIIT is usually so short.

Strength training with your personal trainer ensures that you have a very complete total body program that will help you reach your fitness goals. Men and women alike will benefit in ways that are unique to their body and genetic makeup. Strength training with your personal trainer will push you to create a stronger version of yourself. In the end, aren't you trying to push for a real change anyway?

 
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Sergio Pedemonte is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON. To view his profile click on his name.