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Approachable health tips from the personal trainers of TorqueStrong

Filtering by Category: Smart Training

Take The Step-Sean Archulet

Alydia Bryant

I think as a fitness professional it is easy to take for granted how natural training feels, how common intensity seems, and how comfortable I am within the exercise world. As I step back however, I quickly realize that most people are not only uncomfortable in the "Gym World," but they are down right terrified of it. There are too many factors to name that might contribute to this fear, so I am going to touch on three of them in this post and offer some advice and hopefully some encouragement as well.

1. "Everyone at the gym is already in great shape and I will stick out like a sore thumb."

The reality is that many people at fitness facilities all over the world are in great shape, but an even truer reality is that most of these people didn't start off that way. Everyone's journey to health and fitness is different, but they all start the same way, with taking that first step in. It might be trying a new class, hiring a trainer for one session to see if you like it, or just coming in to talk to someone. Whatever the reason is, chances are that most people will see you and remember their first step in. After all, if everyone was already in great shape would we even need training bars, bands, or lighter weights? Think about it.

2. "I can't do any of that stuff I see people doing in those classes."

Sadly most people will never take their first step because they see one guy deadlifting 500 lbs. or a female doing pull-up after pull-up and they think to themselves "I'll never get there so what's the point in trying?" I myself see people walking down the sidewalk all the time during a class I'm teaching, their eyes wide with amazement and they automatically write it off as impossible. What most people don't realize is that 90% of our job as trainers and coaches is modifying exercises for people. Most people don't have a perfect push-up or they are unable to squat properly due to poor mobility or injury. Don't let that stop you. Most people in the classes I teach had to work through a detailed series of progressions over several weeks to get from point A to point B, they didn't walk through the doors knowing everything. We can modify nearly anything, just give it a shot.

3. "I don't want to hurt myself."

Of the 3 reasons I have listed here, this is the most legitimate reason for not being comfortable in the gym. In all honesty if you don't know what you are doing you probably will get hurt and we definitely don't want that. While I can't speak for all fitness facilities and private training teams, at TorqueStrong every single trainer puts safety and proper form as their top priorities. Hiring a trainer is always a great idea especially if you are just starting out. A trainer can teach you proper form and intensity and make sure that you are reaching your goals instead of wasting precious time in the gym. Obviously private training isn't free, but if you are going to invest in something, shouldn't it be in your health?

Don't let fear stop you. Take that first step and stick with it. I promise you'll be glad that you did!

Name *

Nutrition & Fitness. Must go hand in hand.

Alydia Bryant

nutrition Torquestrong Personal Training Lynchburg Virginia

Eating the right way and exercising?

Let's be honest, if given the choice most people would rather exercise for forty-five minutes to an hour each day and then head back home and eat whatever they feel like. If we are even more honest, this is exactly what most people do.

We hear things like "I earned this dessert, I did an hour of cardio today!" or "I'll burn this meal off tomorrow." As a trainer I feel like most people want to be successful and consistent when it comes to eating right, but sadly most fall short. We are all humans after all and no one is perfect, but the mind set that we can eat whatever we want and it will all magically balance itself out because we exercise is just wrong.

Lets start with why it is important to eat well.

1. Food is fuel for exercise and life.

We cannot reach our full potential in the gym if we are fueling our bodies with junk. Imagine you were a formula one driver. Would you pull up to your pit crew and say "Hey guys, I really want to win this race, but instead of the high octane petrol go ahead and fill her up with rain water. She'll be fine." Crazy right? Well, millions of people do the same thing with their own bodies every single day in the gym. The only difference being that we can't just go and ask our sponsors to buy a new race car, we are stuck with this one body for better or for worse. We can't figure out why we are aren't getting any leaner or stronger or why we are exhausted by 4 o'clock in the afternoon, when really the answer is simple: poor nutrition.

2. Food will make or break you from the inside out.

Forget about how you want to look for a moment or how much you want to lift, and think about being healthy from the inside out. Think about longevity and a great quality of life. The unnecessary wear and tear we place on our bodies through processed foods, sugars, and poor eating is unreal. A recent study out of NYU showed that 74% of Americans live with some level of gastrointestinal discomfort. These symptoms include regular bloating, IBS, diarrhea, and sever abdominal pains. The sad thing is that most people just figure that the way they are feeling is normal and continue to live with these unnecessary discomforts. In most cases the solution to these problems is cleaner eating habits. I am not even talking about a full 180 degree change in your nutrition. It may be as simple as eliminated soda, reducing your diary intake, or cutting your sugar intake in half. Believe me that I have heard all of the responses to these suggestions before: "What?! No, I have to have my diet coke." or "That is my comfort food! I have to have that." All I will say to those comments is: Nothing is worth your health or quality of life. Nothing.

3. Eating better can stop the "Medication Cycle."

We live in a society where the pharmaceutical industry is an absolute giant and drugs are king. Many health professionals are far too quick to prescribe this pill or that drug instead of stopping and saying "Well, lets look at your diet. With a few adjustments you might not even need to go on any medication." Please don't get me wrong, there are many instances where the absolute best course of action is some form of medication. I am referring to the current trend where instead of eating better, the average person will just say "Nah, I'll take the cholesterol meds instead. I love my fried foods!" Thus begins the medication cycle. The medication may in fact control your cholesterol levels, but constipation may be a side effect so you'll need a prescription for that, and that drug may cause headaches so you better take something for that, and those meds will make you extremely irritable so here's a pill for that. On and on the medication cycle continues until we are completely dependent upon on all of these drugs. In many cases these drugs are extremely difficult for our bodies to process which in turn can cause serious long term damage to our kidneys and liver. Will proper eating prevent or cure every ache, pain, symptom or disease? No, but shouldn't we try to stack the deck in our favor? Shouldn't we at least give ourselves a fighting chance?

In closing, proper nutrition should not be the sidekick to our exercise plan or an afterthought in the whole process. Proper nutrition is the hero, it is the main event!

Proper nutrition must go hand in hand with exercise. You will feel better, you will be healthier, and you will have a much greater chance of reaching those goals your are working so hard to acheive.

We only have one shot at this life and we only have one body with which to take it, so let's stack the deck and give ourselves a fighting chance!

Sean Archulet Torquestrong Personal Training Lynchburg Virginia

-Sean Archulet-

Squatting Low is bad for your knees

Alydia Bryant

"I can't squat that low! It will kill my knees."

"I can't get down there, I have bad knees."

"If I squat that low I'll never get back up!"

Every trainer, including myself, has heard one or all of these statements at some time during their personal training career. Could this be true though? Is squatting "Low" bad for your knees?

Let's look at it.

We know that we should move with full range of motion on all movements. This means that when squatting, the crease in our hip should be below the top of our knee. I know some of you are already thinking "Impossible! He's crazy, this can't be good for me."


What ends up happing when people don't squat with full range of motion is that they perform their squats anyway, but with an extremely shallow movement and poor form.

We hear things like "If I squat halfway down it doesn't seem to hurt as bad." Maybe not at that exact moment, but the long term damage that shallow or improper squats create is something to take note of.

The ACL and the PCL are the two ligaments that stabilize your knee. As you lower yourself into the proper squat position, the stress on these ligaments gradually decreases as you go lower. At the same time, the stress on your knee cartilage begins to increase. Our bodies are designed to be able to take a great deal of stress on our cartilage, our ACL and PCL however are not. This is one reason why ACL injuries are so common in sports.

When squatting lower with full range of motion, we place far less stress on our ligaments and knees. Squatting to the proper depth also allows us to use the larger muscles of the hamstrings and glutes, which was probably your intention all along. Let's be honest, no one goes to the gym and says "I really want to put a ton of stress on my knees today...I think I'll do some squats!"

 On the flip side, the position we end up in with shallow squats puts maximum stress and tension on the ligaments and the knee itself rather than the proper muscles in the lower body and legs.

To sum up, using full range of motion on squats is not only more beneficial for you, it is safer.

If your squat form is bad, don't get discouraged. Start off slow and squat a little lower each week until you can comfortably reach proper depth with full range of motion.

On a side note, mobility may be preventing you from squatting with full range of motion. Be sure to warm up and stretch the hips, calves and ankles as these are commonly tight areas in most people.

Now go squat!


Sean Archulet: