Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Is Tendonitis Nagging You!?

   The theory behind working out is that we are breaking the body down, only to build it back up stronger and better than it was before! With the right program and nutrition this process usually works great, however; sometimes the "tearing down" part is over-done and injuries arise.
    One very common training injury I see and experience is tendonitis. Tendonitis or inflammation of a tendon, is an overuse injury that is most commonly seen in the; shoulder, elbow, knee and hip joints, where the muscle attaches to bone. Causes of tendonitis can be attributed to; poor form, overtraining, not adequatley warming up or just repetitive movements.
    I can say that at one point or another throughout my life of working out, I've had elbow, knee and shoulder tendonitis. The good news is that I've always been able to find a solution and get rid of this annoying injury! Below I am going to list some tactics that I've personally used and also a few that have gotten great reviews from colleagues. Here we go....

  • Decrease Volume - Before doing anything, it is important to stop or lower the frequency of the movement that is giving you pain.
  • Ice - After working out, try taking a piece of ice and massaging the joint for about 5 - 10 minutes.
  • Foam Roll Like Crazy - Foam roll the muscles surrounding the joint that is in pain a ton, try 3 times a day at first.
  • Try Breaking up the Tissue with a Lacrosse Ball - Don't start off too intense and hurt yourself more, but locate that tight areas of the muscle and grind it out with a lacrosse ball!
  • Use PT Strength Bands - These bands are relatively wide and vary in how much they stretch. They're used to wrap around the area that is in pain, temporarily cutting off circulation, once secured, flex and move the joint in various directions. After about 1 to 2 minutes take the band off, allow an influx of blood and healing nutrients to the area!
  • Try Homeopathic Topicals - There are a handful of non-steriodal creams and oils that can be massaged into the tendon(s) that is giving you grief (my personal favorite is; Traumeel Cream (dime size) + Wintergreen Oil (2-3 drops) + Helichrysum Oil (2-3 drops)). 
  • Stretch - Stretching in the morning, post workout and night can help elongate the muscles and  relieve some tension from the area.
  • Locate a Dr. Specializing in Active Muscle Release - This is my "go to" when all else fails! This technique is a life saver and also works very quickly, only took 4 sessions to be pain free. The Dr. works by massage the muscle and the tendons, breaking up the tightness and scar tissue!
Please feel free to comment if you have any questions about the above information! Best of luck!

- Brig Van Etten CSCS - 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Quick Tip: Exercise that Builds Muscle & Strips Fat!

    Since the week has just kicked off, many of us are experiencing a "case of the Mondays". I on the other hand, would like to give everyone something to get you through the day and on to the gym!
    Most of us have lives and jobs that do not leave a lot time for extra activities, one being working out. So, instead of cutting out the gym all together, we have to make our time count for more!
    A good way to shorten up your workouts without sacrificing muscle and fat loss is to add in Barbell Complexes! Done with enough intensity, this exercise will most likely enhance muscle growth, along with fat loss. A Barbell Complex, is of course performed with a barbell and consists of a series of exercise, done in a row, without putting the barbell down. Here are a few combination possibilities:

  • Option 1
    • Deadlift
    • Row
    • Clean
    • Push Press
    • Back Squat
  • Option 2
    • Row
    • High Pull
    • Front Squat
    • Press
    • Back Squat
   These are just a couple examples, don't be afraid to get creative and mix together your favorite exercises! Just remember to base the weight off your weakest movement for form purposes. There are a few more things to know before unleashing you! First, its a good idea to keep repetitions around 6 and below, this will help you maintain form throughout the set. Secondly, all reps of one movement are performed before taking on the next one (ex. 6xDeadlift then 6xRow). Lastly, give yourself enough recovery time between, 2-3 minutes of rest. 

- Brig Van Etten CSCS - 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Why Branch Chain Amino Acids Are in My Big 3

     I've always tried to keep supplements to a minimum when it comes to training. Many of the supplement options we have today are full of a ton of crap or are just plain gimmicks. This may be alarming to a lot of you but products like these are not regulated by the FDA so, companies could literally be filling bins with cornstarch and putting them on the shelf!
     My opinion is keep it simple if you decide to add something to what should be an already well put together diet. There are 3 reliable supplements that I dub my Big 3; protein powder, creatine monohydrate and branch chain amino acids. I choose these 3 because they've stood the test of time. Each has a considerable amount of research done on them showing how and why they work. To this day studies have shown that they are safe for the body and have no serious adverse effects.
    In this particular post we'll highlight BCAA's and why they're useful to add into your routine! BCAA's are made up of three essential amino acids; Valine, Leucine and Isoleucine, which together, possess powerful anabolic and anti-catabolic properties. This supplement is very unique because it has the ability to stimulate muscle growth without the help from other essential amino's. This is very interesting, unlike other supplements, BCAA's, once consumed can directly turn our bodies muscle building switch to ON. Branch chain amino acids can also protect our body when in a state of breakdown. During a time of muscle catabolism, these three essential amino acids are the first to be stripped away, so having a vast supply of them ensures that you'll have replacements to fight back!
Here are some tips when taking BCAA's

  • Our body likes to burn off BCAA's before they can reach the cell, so protect them by consuming with a meal
  • Dosage is about 10g per 100 lbs
  • Best time to take this supplement is; morning, pre - workout, post - workout, and before bed
  • Keep the ingredients low, skip on the sugars and additives, all you need is BCAA's
  • Many protein powders have BCAA's already in them so keep an eye out

- Brig Van Etten CSCS - 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Benefits of Training with Chains & Thick Bars

    Thick bars and chains are an easy way to add a little twist into your regiment, without having to completely change your program! Both of these tools are staples in almost every strongman's training routine. In my eyes, if this equipment is good enough for some of the worlds strongest people, then its good enough for me!
    Thick handled dumbbells or bars usually are 2.5 inches or more in diameter and offer a host of benefits. Right off the bat, the thicker handle stimulates a greater amount of muscle fibers in the hands, forearms and upper arms. This is simply because the handle is larger and more difficult to hold on to throughout an exercise, forcing your muscles to contract more aggressively throughout the movement. Many lifters will tell you that you're only as strong as your weakest link. Your body is smart, it wants to use the biggest most powerful muscles for each lift! This isn't always the best thing when trying to get stronger because those supportive muscles can be lift behind. Thick bars will strengthen your hands, forearms and fingers much more then a regular bar ever could, getting rid of your weak points. Training takes a toll on your joints overtime and this can lead to injuries. Studies have shown that thick bar training, in some way, shifts the stress off your joints and puts it more on your muscles. This is exactly what we want, fewer injuries equal more
productive training. Thick handles spread the weight over a larger area of the hand, which in turn, resulting in the load being more evenly distributed throughout the arm and so on. This is perfect because we are keeping stress off the joints and activating more muscles! If your gym does not already carry thick bars, an easy way to solve this problem is to purchase a pair of Fat Gripz (shown in the picture to the right) from EliteFTS. They are made of strong, durable rubber and can be attached to almost any dumbbell or barbell. 
     We've all seen those badass pictures where people have hundreds of pounds in chains draped over a bar while lifting. There are benefits you'll receive from using chains, that you just couldn't get from using plates. The problem is, not a lot of people understand the idea behind using chains. Attaching a set of chains to a barbell can be done in an effort to build strength through a sticking point. The way this works is when your are at the bottom of the lift, the majority of the chains are coiled on the floor, making the weight lighter. As you ascend through the lift, more of the chain is off the floor, increasing the weight. This builds power and explosiveness through the lift, helping to work through the spots you'd usually get stuck at. The weight is lighter where you are weakest, so you can work speed, then, eventually getting to a point where strength is key, towards the top of the movement! This is a great way to build strength, however, many people load the bar incorrectly, defeating the whole purpose of using chains. In order to get this increased weight effect, almost all of the chains, excluding the support chains, need to be in contact with the floor at the bottom of the lift. Conversely, all of the chains need to be just off the floor at the top of the lift! This will ensure that you have a nice increase of weight throughout the movement! Try working with about 50 - 60% of your one rep max and having about 30 - 40 lbs of that weight being made up of chains. Keep the reps low and work on explosion!

- Brig Van Etten CSCS - 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Quick Tip: Muscle Growth

      Most of the time when dealing with repetition ranges as high as 15 - 20 per set, you'll find yourself working muscular endurance. Touching on the endurance pathway is a good idea here and there but you're probably not going to get a ton of muscular growth, if your program is centered around this training style.
     However, everyone's body works differently and there is no one training style that will work perfectly for all. That said, some individuals need more time under tension then others to experience hypertrophy. Depending on the range of motion and speed of the exercise, 15 - 20 reps can land you anywhere between 40 - 70 seconds under tension. For some, this is an ideal amount of time to build muscle! Also, some muscle groups, for example the legs, have a higher proportion of lower threshold fibers calling for higher reps to engage them!
     An easy way to try this secret out during your very next session is, to cap of your sets with a particular exercise by performing 15 - 20 repetitions. So, if you're doing 5 sets of squat, lower the weight and make that 5th and final set around 20 reps. If anything you'll at least get a great pump!

- Brig Van Etten CSCS -

Monday, April 28, 2014

50 Ways on How to Live Better In & Out of the Gym - Part 2

26.  Creatine Monohydrate is one of the most proven and effective training supplements, use it if it fits into your program goals

27.  Make sure your bedroom is completely blacked out at night, you will sleep much better

28.  Avoid slow/steady state cardio for weight loss, it breaks down muscle tissue

29. Try listening to meditation CD's as a tool to help de-stress

30. When trying to gain size, try a 6-8 rep

31.  If interested in adding olympic lifts to your training, first seek out a experienced trainer for

32.  Epsom salt baths and contrast showers can help reduce muscle soreness

33.  If you like milk, try to buy organic or raw milk.....the other stuff is no good

34.  Make sure your food is nitrate free....studies show it is linked to cancer

35.  Make an effort to chew your food at least 25 times, it will improve digestion

36.  To keep your body healthy, take 1 week off for every 4-8 weeks of training

37.  Do not develop "Program ADD", give a new training regiment at least 4-6 weeks before giving up on it

38.  Use good ol' fashion chalk to help with your grip while training

39.  A good way to stay young and athletic is to not stick with one discipline; play sports, vary your training and keep your body guessing

40.  Try single leg exercises in order to build tendon and ligament strength

41.  Be aware of the top three causes of disease; stress, toxicity and malnutrition

42.  Alkalize your body post workout...this will keep it in an anabolic state; simply eat fruits and veggies or supplement with a product like Amazing Grass

43.  Stay away from static stretches prior to training

44.  Avoid gluten

45.  Know what you're doing before you walk into the gym, having a plan is important in order to reach your goals

46.  If you enjoy coffee, always opt for dark organic whole beans, grind them yourself and drink it straight

47.  Never use that inner thigh machine.....just stay away from machines all together

48.  Try not to carry your cell phone in your pocket or on your hip

49.  When trying to boost muscle mass, try the Vince Gironda method of 10-8-6-15 reps with your exercises

50.  Drinking lime water can reduce arthritic pain

- Brig Van Etten CSCS - 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

50 Ways on How to Live Better In & Out of the Gym - Part 1

  1. "If a caveman couldn't eat it, you shouldn't!"
  2. Do complex, multi - joint exercises when in the gym
  3. Keep your workouts to 45 minutes or less
  4. Shop at markets for organic, non-processed foods
  5. Get at least 7 hours of sleep
  6. Supplement with branch chain amino acids
  7. Get your drinking water from health food stores or outdoor springs
  8. Take your off/recovery days as serious as you take your training; stretching, foam rolling & mobility
  9. Train in your socks or invest in a pair of minimalist shoes
  10. Schedule an active muscle release session at least once a'll thank me later
  11. Do not under estimate the power of water.....drink at least half your bodyweight in ounces per day
  12. Never forget to warm up....get a sweat going before you train, wear pants & long sleeve shirts until you're ready to roll
  13. Include a vegetable & fruit at every meal
  14. Maximize your results, have a post workout protein shake waiting on hand
  15. Listen to 50 Cent while training...nuff said
  16. Read the book Starting Strength - Basic Barbell Training by Mark Rippetoe
  17. When training arms use thick bars or attach fat gripz to regular sized handles
  18. If you're someone who works at the crack of dawn, don't skip breakfast, have a liquid meal; protein smoothie
  19. Cook with coconut or olive oil
  20. When using body care products; shampoo, soaps, lotions...pick ones that do not contain parabens 
  21. In order to build muscle fast, try the legendary 20 rep squat routine
  22. When trying to eat clean, schedule a "cheat day" 1-2 days a week
  23. Keep your water in glass, stainless steel or BPA free plastic bottles 
  24. Dairy, wheat, soy & legumes are pro - inflammatory foods, keep them to a minimum
  25. Keep a training journal and track your progress
Stay tuned for part 2!

- Brig Van Etten CSCS -