Here are the links to a few basics to get you started:
Foam Rolling versus Massage Therapy
How to Foam Roll Away Lower Back Pain
How to Foam Roll for Better Posture
How to Foam Roll Your Neck
How to Foam Roll the Bottom of Your Feet
Here are videos on the basics of foam rolling that explain pretty much everything you need to know regarding myofascial release; aka foam rolling!
There are 45 videos in total that focus on the basics of foam rolling. The complete list can be found here.
Here are the links to a few basics to get you started:
Foam Rolling versus Massage Therapy
How to Foam Roll Away Lower Back Pain
How to Foam Roll for Better Posture
How to Foam Roll Your Neck
How to Foam Roll the Bottom of Your Feet
I’ve been a personal trainer and wellness coach for well over five years. There are always new trends and studies to read up on and learn in the field. It is important to keep up with them, learn what works, and what doesn’t. I am always keeping up with the latest studies and making it a priority to continue my education. I like to keep an open mind when it comes to working out because, lets face it, things can get monotonous after a while. I like to find ways to spice things up but most importantly, I always preach form over funtion. I believe in quality of the exercises, not quantity. There are some fitness trends that will come and go, and other staples that anyone who works out, whether you are a novice or an expert, should live by.
Now, none of us are perfect. But in my opinion, the wise person asks questions or at least does a little bit of their homework prior to the first time they pick up a weight or step foot in the gym. Unfortunately, many people don’t bother to do this. I have been in the health and fitness field long enough to know when I see people doing exercises incorrectly. Sometimes, I throw out by neck just looking at these people! However, there is a difference between poor form, and
“WHAT THE HELL IS HE DOING?”
What concerns me most is when I witness people doing exercises they shouldn't be doing in the gym- EVER. Not because their form is incorrect, but because the exercise in general should not be done due to safety issues and how the body mechanics work. The general population is often misled and not informed on what exercises work what muscle groups and why we should steer clear of these things going forward. Let's be clear, the following exercises are not effective and safe and should be avoided at all costs.
1. Behind the neck Lat-pulldowns
Due to lack of flexibility most people have in their shoulders, this exercise is dangerous because the risk of shoulder impingement syndrome increases. It can also lead to other cervical spine injuries as well.
The Alternative: do the same exercise- only pull the bar down to the top of your clavicle in the front. Keep your wrist aligned with the elbows as you pull down to ensure your hitting your lats!
2. Full sit-ups
Put quite frank, there are many other abdominal exercises that can be done without putting so much strain on the spine. The spine is not meant to go into constant flexion and extension-which is exactly what full sit ups are! The truth of the matter is core stabilization exercises are proven to be much more effective and safer.
The Alternative: planks, side planks, ab-wheel, cable chops, windmills, farmers walks, need I say more? The sit-ups are old school and ineffective. Do yourself a favor and quit while you’re ahead. Your spine will thank you later.
3. Stiff legged dead lifts- OK, I know you guys are asking, “What is she talking about?” Hear me out. In today's modern society, most people tend to sit for the majority of the day. People lack strength and flexibility throughout their entire posterior chain, which causes people to hinge from their lumbar spine as opposed to the correct point- their hips. Doing stiff legged DL's for most people is asking for trouble. UNLESS supervised by a strength coach or trainer, getting the form 100% is difficult to do on your own. IT CAN BE DONE- however, it takes a keen eye of an expert to really teach you how it is done.) Here’s my point on these, If your a rookie, a weekend warrior, or someone who is not extremely confident in knowing how to hinge correctly at the hips and fire your glutes correctly, stay away from them. Until you are supervised and taught under a well-versed coach, do yourself a favor and bend those knees when you go to dead lift!
*LET ME BE CLEAR, when done correctly, the dead lift is a vital exercise to strengthening your posterior chain and solid lower body movement which ANYONE and EVERYONE should be working into their strength and conditioning routine.
The Alternative: RDL’s, DL’s, BB glute bridges.
4. Leg extensions
So the leg extension will get a good pump in your quads- no doubt about it. However, the cons outnumber the pros when it comes to using this machine. Here's why: There is a significant increase in the most commonly used range of motion causing joint stress to the knee. There is hardly any hamstring activity, no adductor or abductor contributions, constant ACL tension at the knee, and insufficient contribution of the surrounding muscles and joints. Will you get injured by doing the leg extension once In a while? Probably not. But why do the leg extension when you can be getting a lot more bang for your buck by squatting thus recruiting more viable muscles and ensuring proper movement patterns which you will be able to mimic in real life. It's called functional training for a reason people!
The Alternative: Squats, split squats, step-ups, lunges.
5. Squats on a smith machine
A fixed bar your body needs to conform to. Sounds like trouble, right? Well that's because it is. When doing a squat in a smith machine, you need to align the bar on your shoulders in such a position that it does not cause you discomfort and that allows you to keep your spine straight. Your spine should remain straight (leaning forward slightly is natural and O.K). From there you have to hinge from your hips and sit back on your heels, bending at your knees. This is a range of motion in multiple specific planes. If the fixed Barbell doesn't move, your body has to. When you are attempting to squat and your hip flexors or lower back are tight, since the bar on the smith machine isn’t budging, guess what will!? That's right- something in your body that is not really supposed to. The body does a very good job at finding ways to do what we ask it to do- even if it must compensate in the wrong way to do so. The squat is an in depth, intricate movement that is working the body in multiple planes. Squatting on a smith machine can lead to injury of either the lower back or the knees.
The Alternative- squatting in a squat rack, with kettlebell(s) or dumbbell(s) or hex bar.
6. The seated torso rotation machine.
What can be worst then a full sit up? Any machine at the gym asking you to get into a hunched over position, round your back, oh, and add weight to it all. Again, anything that is flexing the spine can cause some serious back problems. This machine puts your body at a full disadvantage- rounding your upper spine, asking it to rotate and then loading it? I hope you have your chiropractors number on speed dial because you'll be needing it! The role of the abdominals (core muscles) is to stabilize the pelvic-lumbar region and control acceleration/deceleration of the spine…NOT to rotate your hips while sitting down! Many people believe in something called “spot specific’ training which is the desire to lose fat in targeted areas of the body. You cannot lose fat around your stomach just by doing crunches, situps or any ab-machine. In order to lose fat, you must train big muscle groups when strength training, eat clean and do cardio (preferably HIIT) working out a total of 5-6 days of week.
The Alternative: Side planks, Farmers walk (suitcase carry), cable chops, windmills.
7. The seated abdominal crunch
This exercise has the same idea as the torso rotation machine-why squeeze your body into a position into a machine, ask it to do constant flexion and extension and then add weight to that? I often wonder when I see people do this if the herniations are happening right then and there.
The Alternative: Planks, Cable chops, farmers walks, Ab-wheel, body-saw, hanging knee/leg raises.
Amanda Edell is strength and conditioning and running coach in the New York City area. She is certified through NASM and ACE and has over 10+ of fitness experience. You can visit her website at www.bodybyamandanyc.com to find out more about her.
Dear Friends, Family and Clients,
I’ve been a Health and Wellness Coach for just over five years now. At least once a week, I get asked the question, “How do I get rid of my stomach?” Or, the better version usually coming from my guys,
“Amanda, get me jacked! I want a 6-pack!”
I usually laugh at this. Get you jacked? O.K. Let me start by making one thing very clear. I love my job. I really truly love my job. However, just like all other professions, it can become difficult when certain requests are made of me that require more from then me seeing you just two hours a week. The truth is, most of the work has to be done by you. The commitment, consistency and decisions you make the other 166 hours during the week are what is going to make or break you in reaching your fitness goals. I can work with you toward getting you “jacked”, but we’re not reaching “Arnold” status if your not willing to do your homework, buddy!
Truth: All of us live busy lives, with hectic schedules and usually very high stress. I get it. However, you must first be motivated! I always say,
“Get your mind right!”
And it’s the truth. It has to start from within before you manifest it in real life. First off, let’s just focus on the looking better part. Vanity is a powerful motivator, and I’m OK with having people embrace the desire to improve their physique if it prompts them to action as long as they don’t go off the deep end and start injecting, waxing, tanning, etc. However, when it comes to my clients, I ask for a more substantial goal. Aesthetic reasons are a good way to get you off the couch but scientifically it’s not enough to keep you going. So…think about it. Would you like to decrease your cholesterol? Sleep better? Decrease stress? Prevent certain cancers? Be a good role model for your kids? Decrease the cost of life insurance? Make a list and put other things on it other then looking good naked. This will help on the days you are dragging and help keep you going for the long run.
Before we get into it, I want to show you what true dedication; commitment, planning and working out consistently can look like.
From a personal standpoint, I'm not one who is going for that stacked and popping “6-pack” ab look. I prefer defined and toned. And I must say, I have gotten to the point several times in my life, after much hard work BOTH in the gym and kitchen, where I've been proud of my accomplishments. Let me tell you something- nothing beats that.
The picture on the left was taken mid April of 2013. I was working out consistently but not 100% on my eating game. The picture on the right was taken mid June 2013. Here, my eating was near perfect, I was working out 5-6x a week. (No different from April). However, I was planning my meals ahead, drinking a lot of water, eating vegetables at every meal, not boozing, meditating, and sleeping a lot. (7-8 hours).
Below is a list of tips on how to lose fat and decrease your circumference around your mid section. It’s going to take dedication, hard work and consistency. Two hours out of 168 hours a week is not going to change your body. It’s the other 166 hours when you are not with me that will. Get your mind right. LETS GO!
The tips are as follows:
1) IDENTIFY your weakness. Whether it is ice cream, wine, chips, etc. DO NOT have it in the apartment- PERIOD! If you crave something sweet at night, chug a huge glass of water. If you are legitimately hungry, try a greek yogurt with berries and a little honey, cottage cheese with fruit, or flavored almond milk. Salty? How about a bag of 100-calorie skinny pop? They come in the 100 calorie bags so you can’t over-indulge! Wine or cocktail? Limit yourself to 1 week night and one weekend night to start if it’s an every night habit. From there, cut it back to one night. Have a glass of water between every drink. That will go a long way in helping your body to metabolize the alcohol and putting off that hangover looming in the AM. Cut it out completely to obtain best results.
*Good choices of alcohol include dry wines, which are very low carb, clocking in at about 0.5-1 g per glass (4 fl oz/115ml). Sweet wines are much higher at 4-6 g per glass. Cognac, gin, rum, scotch, tequila, vodka and whiskey are all basically zero carbs. Dry wines and spirits is what you should be drinking, ideally. Take them straight or mixed with diet soda. (No need to be super-neurotic about this stuff. Drinks should be enjoyed after all. Just be aware that there are better and worse choices out there).
2) Wake up to a hearty BREAKFAST that you look forward to! Mine is usually a protein shake. (1 scoop of protein powder, plain almond milk, 1 cup spinach, half banana, some strawberries or blueberries) Other options include, cottage cheese with fruit, steel cut oatmeal with flax seeds, Greek yogurt with fruit and flax seeds, omelet with veggies, hard boiled eggs, left over salmon with sprayed grain toast etc. Want bread? Try gluten free and organic sprouted whole grain. Your biggest meal of the day should be here.
3) Have one day a week set aside for “PREP”. This means cooking one day out of the week and putting your food in plastic containers to take to work with you. Sound overwhelming? Stock up on salads (fresh direct has some great options) you can grab and take to work with you. Avoid the dressings though. Make a goal and stick to it. (e.g. I’m going to cook at home 4 times this week and only eat out 3x). The problem with ordering in food or eating out is the fact that we have no idea or control what is actually being put in our food. Make a plan. Make it happen.
4) IDENTIFY when you are hungry or if you are just “bored”. If your metabolism is revving and you’re an animal like myself, you should be getting hungry every 4 hours or so. Big breakfast means you’ll be hungry later. Before putting anything in your mouth, do a body scan. Are you even hungry? Are you thirsty? Maybe you’re just stressed. Ask yourself when was the last time you ate? Pay attention. If you are not hungry, don’t eat. Simple.
5) SLOW DOWN. In all aspects of your life. Slow down when you are eating. Slow your brain down during the day. Take 5 minutes out of the day to close your eyes and breathe deep. I know this sounds crazy but cortisol (the hormone that causes stress) can cause us to over eat. Simple breathing teqniques can help and taking the time to slow down will cut stress and decrease calorie consumption.
6) WORKOUT 5-6 DAYS A WEEK. Yea…sorry. No shortcuts here. Plan your workouts out and schedule them into your day like it’s that really important conference call with that really big client. This can be 3x a week of strength training and two days a week of interval training. Getting that heart rate up 5-6 days a week is imperative to see the changes you want to see in your body. When strength training, bigger movements working the entire body are the most effective way to burn the most calories.
“But Amanda, what about crunches? I told you I want to get jacked!”
Guess what? Your better off doing core stabilization exercises like planks and cable chops. To train your abdominals safely and effectively you must know the basic movement patterns of your abs and train them within all sub-categories:
- Hip Flexion (lower abs. e.g. Plank, hanging leg raises, flat bench lying leg raise)
- Trunk Flexion (upper abs. e.g. supine plank, jackknives, pikes)
- Rotation (obliques. e.g. Side chops, side planks, Russian twists)
- Lateral Flexion (obliques. e.g. lateral med ball twists, windmills)
Again, when strength training, focus on the bigger movements like pullups, pushups, squats and lunges because you’re activating your entire body, getting the heart rate up highest and forcing your core to stabilize all in one. When you do choose to isolate the core, break it down into a couple days and choose from the sub-categories above.
What about Cardio? Intervals are the way to go. They are most effective for fat loss and they do not compromise lean muscle mass. There is a reason over half the population in America is overweight! If it were easy, we’d all look like rock stars. Get your mind right. Make it happen! I’m here to help you design a routine that will work for you.
7) ANNOUNCE your goals! Oh you want to lose 10% body fat? Telling people what your goals are will increase your odds of sticking to your plan. Those annoying people on Istagram and Facebook taking pictures of their food and posting it every hour? Guess what? They’re onto something. Post it, take a picture of it, tell your friends, update your status, get a bet going at work, whatever it takes!
The more accountable you are, the less likely you’ll go for that ice cream at 10PM when no one is looking. Be realistic with yourself. Set small goals that you know you can accomplish. Keep in mind there is no way to target fat loss in any one area of your body. Just like your body deposits fat in many different places, it burns fat in your entire body, not just from your abs or your thighs.
8) DRINK MORE WATER. I tell my clients to drink anywhere from 2.5-3 liters of water a day. To figure out how much you need specifically, take half your body weight in pounds and that’s how many ounces of water you need to drink. So a 150lb person would need to drink a minimum of 2.2 liters a day. It sounds like an absurd amount of water, but remember you get water from the food you eat. You can also drink decaf green tea to make up some of the quota.
9) Get more ZZZ’s. Easier said then done, I know. Try to have a plan that all electronic devices go off by 9PM. The TV, computer and music are all shut down by 9PM and you are physically in bed by 10PM. The kids are in bed, emails are answered, and everything is prepped for the morning. Sitting in front of a computer screen can keep the mind active for 30 minutes or so afterwards. Studies have shown that there is a direct link between sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite. Ghrelin stimulates hunger and leptin signals satiety to the brain and suppresses appetite. When sleep time is decreased, leptin decreases which causes elevations in ghrelin. Beauty sleep has suddenly taken on a whole new meaning!
I began meditating in 2012 and within three months my friends and family started to notice a dramatic difference in my demeanor. Here are a few ways mediating can change your life and how it has changed mine:
- Improved concentration
- Decrease in food cravings (In my case, it was sugar.)
- Improves sleep
- Reduced stress levels that can translate to weight loss. Less cortisol levels= less body fat!
- Being more appreciative
- Less worries
I know a lot of you don’t think it is worth it or believe you are not the type of person who can sit down twice a day for twenty minutes and turn your mind “off”, but you are probably the person who will benefit from it most! There is no better time to start now. Go to www.beginmeditating.com to learn more.
The road is difficult, but nothing worth having comes easy! Be patient with yourself and remember slow and steady progress is best over quick and extreme changes. As always, I am here with any questions or concerns you may have. Until next time, cheers to taking the first steps in the right direction!
In Health and Happiness,
Most of you are probably gearing up for your weekend plans right about now. Your heading out either to the Hamptons, Jersey or Connecticut for a relaxing few days out of this stagnant hot city where I will be staying, writing to you all and reminding you to enjoy yourselves but not go too overboard...Your Welcome.
Being a Fitness Coach for just over five years now, I understand and accept the fact that we all slip up sometimes- including myself. Summer time means more barbecues, outdoor parties, and often, well, more partying. I'm a big advocate for balance and having fun. I believe moderation is the key to living a healthy lifestyle. You can't appreciate the good without experiencing the bad, right? I'm no psychic but I can predict in this case the bad will consist of a hell of a lotta' hangovers. With that said, July 4th weekend probably means having to detox when we do all return back to our beloved city. Here is one simple nutrition tip to help get you back on track this week to looking the best you can for the rest of the summer!
FIRST, I want to help illustrate my point so I´m going to present you with a food journal from one of my clients. Here is what my average client seems to be consuming these days:
They wake up at 7am
They go to sleep at 11p
That's 16 hours in their day, and their meal distribution looks like this:
8:30/9a small breakfast on the run, mostly carbs. (200-300 calories)
12p lunch (salad, or soup or wrap, 250-400 calories)
4p snack. Usually carbs. (whatever's available in the office, 200 calories)
8p dinner (meat/poultry/fish + veggies, 300-500 calories)
A couple of patterns they won't tell me/that I notice (still not getting to my point yet, bear with me)
1) Breakfast needs to be sooner
2) They're either all under eating or not reporting everything to me...(1000-1600 calories a day? I'd have all super models as clients!)
3) Dinner is usually ordered in or they go out. (Which translates to higher sodium, more butter, lower quality meats, rarely anything organic, etc.)
4) Meals are not planned and poorer choices are made. (When you're hungry and it comes down to the brain or the stomach, stomach always wins.)
And FINALLY, the moment you've been waiting for: MY POINT!
The percentage of calories eaten in the first 8 hours of the day should exceed the percentage of calories in the last 8 hours of the day.
Think about it, and these other observations:
Breakfast on the run (deli): get 4 scrambled egg whites (16g protein), turkey or low sodium ham (at least 8g of protein) and spinach. NO TOAST! If you think you'll be full soon after breakfast, ask for some salsa on top, or even add spinach and (occasionally) some cheese (unless avoiding cholesterol) in to the scrambled eggs. Stay away from American cheese and cheddar.
Lunch on the run (salad and soup): Chicken, tuna, salmon, tofu in a salad with as many vegetables as you like. Also add in a serving of nuts, choosing from almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, and legumes if you can (kidney beans). Flax seeds are also a great addition. If having a soup look for a lentil version.
Chipotle option: (you know who you are) double meat, add guacamole, no rice, black or pinto beans, salsa, no cheese, no sour cream. Make it work!!
Snack: this can be placed in between breakfast and lunch or between lunch and dinner, depending on where your workout is. No workout? Smaller snack, and less carbs. Protein shakes are a great option, greek yogurt with fruit and flax seeds, cottage cheese, apple and a tablespoon of almond butter.
Dinner: lean meat (grass fed), organic poultry, lean, wild fish, with an assortment of vegetables. As many as possible actually. A salad works here, as does 'fake' mashed potatoes (mash up cauliflower after it has been well-steamed, add in a pinch of salt, pepper, and some 0% fage yogurt) and you will be full until breakfast the next morning. I know it sounds kind of gross...give it a shot. I've made it plenty of times and it is amazing how close the resemblance is to the real thing!
As always, I am here with any questions you may have.
Cheers to a healthy and happy summer!
Body By Amanda, LLC
1. Try to stick to the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time eat clean, 20% of the time, let yourself indulge. (most the time I stick to two cheat meals a week, or a full cheat day) (when I am really focused on weight loss, I stay closer to 90/10 :) )
2. When it comes to food shopping, stick to the perimeters (the outside aisles). Try to stick to foods that spoil and stay away from foods that are processed and prepackaged (mostly the inside aisles).
3. When reading food labels, avoid foods that have lines and lines of ingredients. The best foods for you have very few ingredients!
4. Drink TONS of water. A lot of times when we think we are hungry we are actually dehydrated and need some h20!
5. Think about incorporating one veggie with every meal. Remember. eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.
6. Stay away from sugary drinks, cream- based dressings and canned soups. (I prefer to stick to just balsamic and vinegar in my salads and use spices and nuts when I cook (especially in my salads and fish :) )
7. Swap white potatoes for sweet potatoes (I like to chop my sweet potatoes in slices and bake them for 20-30 minutes at 350 (depending on how fine I cut them) and season them with cayenne pepper, black pepper, and cinnamon (I add cinnamon to lots of things)
8. Swap all breads for Ezekiel or millet breads. (They can be found in the frozen section). Think slower digestive carbs and whole oats as your carb option. Try to eat your carbs in the earlier part of the day as well.
9. Swap peanut butter for almond, cashew, pecan, and/or sunflower butters. You can also use the fresh almond butter made at Wholefoods. I order mine from fresh direct.
10. Olive oil and coconut oil are nice substitutions for butter and great for cooking
11. Shakes are a great way to get your greens in. It's also a fast and nutritious meal you can have on the go.
Ex) I like to blend baby spinach, kale, 1 spoonful avocado,protein powder (I use Garden of Life, raw protein powder in Vanilla) and add cinnamon in a blender to ensure I get my greens (it's difficult for me to chew baby spinach and kale, so I drink them :) )
*For the protein shakes- I recommend dairy free and low calorie. I mix my protein powder with any type of berry and baby spinach (for greens) and water, and ice cubes. Super simple and delicious. The earlier in the day, the more fruit I allow. Why limit my fruits? Fruits are carbs and sugar which if we don't use gets stored as fats. Keep that in mind...
12. Lean meats are a better choice than cold cuts. Red meats are also a good choice just make sure you are cooking it at home (to limit salt and butter intake) and always buy grass-fed cuts. In terms of fish, make sure it's always WILD.
13. Limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks per week! Remember, not all calories are created equal. 1 gram of carbs= 4 calories. 1 gram of protein= 4 calories. 1 gram of fat= 9 calories. 1 ounce of alcohol? 196 calories! Remember your body switches from metabolizing fat to metabolizing alcohol after TWO drinks! Limit it!
Keep in mind I am available for food shopping and assistance in food prepping. Hope everyone had a good weekend!
Best way to get ready for the summer? Doing High Intensity Interval training.
HIIT vs. Steady State Cardio
As we approach Memorial day weekend and the start of summer is just before us, there are a few things to keep in mind:
It takes 4 weeks for you to start seeing and feeling a change in your body. 8 weeks for others to notice. My point? Consistency is key.
This means we must continue to bust our butts in the gym while also incorporating effective cardio programs on our own. So I'm sure you've all heard the buzz everywhere you go about HIIT. What is HIIT? What is the difference compared to steady state cardio? And is it that much better for you?
Let's start with some basic descriptions.
Steady State Cardio - The type of cardio everyone does at the gym. Steady state cardio has been the most popular form of cardio for many years. Traditional guidelines suggest people exercise for 20-45 minutes of continuous activity 3x a week.
You see the average woman performing this while riding the bike or elliptical reading US weekly.
The big question is: is she helping herself at all?
The answer is yes, she is burning calories. But there are a few things one should consider about slow steady state cardio and why interval training is worth so much more of your time and energy:
The body adapts very quickly to workouts; you burn less and less calories doing the same amount of work as you progress. This is called efficiency. And the body becomes very good at adapting to any stressors we put on it. Steady state cardio burns calories only during the workout, with little to no metabolic boost post-workout. The only exception is marathon runners: they should continue to do their long distance runs because that is their sport! However, if your main goal is weight loss and to stay in shape, (lets face it, we all just want to look good naked, right? Or is that just me?) Follow these guidelines below.
Interval training -The type of cardio almost no one does at the gym.
Defined as anaerobic, interval training is various forms of cardio, with short high intensity bouts of exercises followed by rest periods.
Facts about interval training:
Interval training will not compromise lean body mass. Research shows fat loss is significant when compared to steady state. It is not boring. The time spent doing it is less. · Studies show when doing intervals one will lose more fat compared to one who is performing steady state cardio.
*Strictly speaking, the terms "aerobic" and "anaerobic" refer to the presence and absence of oxygen. Aerobic means with oxygen. Anaerobic means without.
Take home points:
If you can't spend 45 minutes on the treadmill, you don't have to! Shorter bouts of exercise is proven to be better for us. Remember, burning calories should not be the primary goal and focus when working out.
Contact me for help with designing an interval workout for yourself. Summer 2013- here we come!