Editors Note: This is a contribution from Danny McLarty a certified strength and conditioning coach.
In order to improve our health and physique, we all want to get the most out of our training. I look around and see many people busting their humps every week, without making much of a change (if any) to their appearance. Hard work is great, and essential to reaching your goals. But it also takes some smarts! Below are two tips to help you make noticeable improvements in your health and physique.
Work That Back!
You may have heard this advice before: to prevent muscular imbalances and to stay healthy, make sure that you use a balanced lifting routine (i.e. an equal amount of pulling as pushing). Theoretically, this is great advice. Unfortunately, we live in a society that has set us up for failure when it comes to improving our posture/physique. A “balanced” routine only makes sense if you have no (or minimal) imbalances to begin with. But too many of us spend the majority of our time hunched over in front of the computer; driving in a car; hunched over on the couch watching TV/playing video games, and the list goes on. Plus, if you are the typical guy, you have done WAY more pushing (bench pressing) than pulling (rows) up to this point in your lifting career.
If the above sounds all too familiar, make sure to spend more time (at least a 2:1 ratio) pulling than pushing. Pulling in the horizontal plane would be especially beneficial for you (rows). And if you are starting to resemble the Hunchback of Notre Dame, make push-ups your pushing movement of choice, rather than more bench pressing (at least until you start to “balance out”).
The above tips are all good and dandy, but if you are NOT doing your job outside the weight room, a few extra sets of rows won’t do a lot for you. In other words, make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting down with rounded shoulders. It’s a 24/7 job, but if you want to see results, you can do it!
Don’t Fear Fat!
We were brought up being told that fat is the devil and that we should avoid it all costs. This led to an increase in carbohydrate consumption (often times processed/refined carbs), and an increase of health related diseases such as diabetes. Most of us interested in the field of fitness now realize that there are many benefits to fat and that it needn’t be avoided like the plague. Unfortunately, there are still many misinformed people who fear this macronutrient. More times than not, when I sit down with a new client for our first nutrition talk, this is what I hear; “when shopping I usually make sure to look for reduced fat and/or fat free items.”
In my opinion, this is a mistake. IF the food comes from a high quality source, we should consume the full fat version. Give me some eggs from free-range chickens, and I’m eating that egg, yolk ‘n all. Beef from grass-fed cows – I don’t mind that there is some saturated fat going down my gullet. As nutrition expert Brian St. Pierre has written:
Let’s jump back to dairy and cardiovascular disease. Whole fat dairy from grass-fed cows contains a boatload of powerful vitamins and healthful fatty acids. These vitamins are fat-soluble, meaning they are bonded to the fatty acids in the dairy, and are therefore nearly non-existent in fat-free dairy. The fat is where vitamins A, D, E and K2 are, as well as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), butyric acid, omega-3 fatty acids, and medium chain triglycerides. Low-fat and fat-free dairy are woefully lacking in these properties.
You should note that dairy from grass-fed cows contain significantly more of these nutrients than dairy from grain-fed cows. For example, research has shown that the milk fat from grass-fed cows has 500% more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)than the milk fat from grain-fed cows! 500%!
If you are the type of person that looks for every fat-free food in existence, you are missing some of the benefits that Brian mentions above. The key is to make sure you purchase real, unprocessed whole foods that come from a high quality source.
If you are a fat-phobe, I hope this makes you think twice about ditching all full-fat foods for their fat-free/reduced fat “cousins.” And Mr. Bench press guy, yeah you – don’t forget that you have a backside to your body and that you need to put a bigger emphasis on your horizontal pulling. And to everyone, no more spending all day hunched over the computer. Give up off your butt’s and MOVE! Like. Right. Now…
Danny McLarty has been a Fitness Coach for over 10 years. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (CSCS) and Planned Periodization Specialist (PPS through Tudor Bompa). Danny is also a Basketball Skills Coach and earned a place in the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame for his high school and college career while standing at a height of 5’7″.
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