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Tag: exercise (Page 2 of 4)

Coaching Tips for the Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

The single leg Romanian deadlift is one of my favorite exercises to program. My clients know to expect to see it in their programs.

One of my clients was having some trouble performing it a few weeks ago. I broke it down for him and thought the explanation might be able to help some people out there.

Everything following is part of the email I sent him which breaks down my thought process and gives specific cues to address his technique on this exercise.

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How to Warm Up Before Exercise

Warming up is about preparing your body for the things you’re about to put it through. A good warm up makes exercise safer and more effective.

But if you don’t know what you’re doing, your warm up might be a waste of time, or, in the worst case, also detrimental to your goals. I thought it might be helpful if I wrote a basic post about warming up for people just getting into exercise.

This post is for people who:

  1. Just want a free warm up they can do before they exercise.
  2. Want to understand how to make their own warm up.

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Moms, Here’s How to Get Your Daughter Interested in Exercise

This 10-year-old was screaming. Crying. The rest of us were silent.

“Face it! I’m just not someone who is meant to exercise.”

She ran upstairs, leaving us speechless.

There are a lot of moments that shape your life, but that one has been burned into my mind.

My sister has struggled with joint pain and body image issues for years. She spends all of her time on the couch with her iPad.

Does this sound like your daughter?

After deeming herself unfit for exercise, I decided to take things into my own hands.

Fast forward to the present, my sister now:

  • Rarely says negative things about herself
  • Has friends she plays with regularly
  • Willingly exercises for hours

This post will show you how to get your daughter interested in exercise.


Change the Way You Communicate

Your own behavior is the first place to start.

Set an Example

Don’t be a hypocrite. Eat well, exercise regularly, and be positive about it (but don’t be annoying).

No matter how you’ve acted in the past, you should now think of yourself as a person who exercises and eats well.

If you don’t currently set this positive example, try these three things:

  1. Plan your meals ahead of time. Example: On Sundays, I will plan out my meals for the rest of the week.
  2. Make exercise part of your daily routine. Example: I will exercise for 30 minutes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after work.
  3. Decide what part of your daily routine you will cut out and replace with exercise. Example: I will watch TV for one less hour each night.

For more tips, read my post about how willpower relates to diet and exercise.

Avoid the righting reflex

When we argue with someone, we tend to take up the side for change. This is known as the righting reflex and it reflects our desire to help people. This forces the person we are talking with to defend herself, listing reasons she should not change.

The problem is that when we list reasons we should not change, it reinforces our decision to not change.

For example, when my sister said she was not the type of person who is meant to exercise, it is ineffective to respond with, “exercise is good for you,” or, “it will be fun” because she will want to argue why you are wrong.  However well-intentioned these words might be, she will defend herself in order to protect her own self esteem.

Stop directing and start guiding

Instead of directing your daughter, act more like a guide. Ask her questions instead of giving her commands. If you do have to give her advice, first ask for permission to do so.

What are some ways you can get her excited about exercise? How can we make exercise more convenient for her?

Reflect her words about change

When she mentions reasons why she should stay the same, don’t emphasize them. If she sprinkles a little optimism in there, highlight it.

My sister is really good with a hula hoop going one way, but has a lot of difficulty when trying to spin it the other direction. When she’s flying through it, I ask her, “Can you go the other way?”

For some kids, this question is enough to get them to try it. For others, they will simply laugh and say, “No, I can’t,” while continuing to do things the easy way. In these cases, I don’t want to reflect their negative self-talk. Usually the best follow up is, “It’s hard, isn’t it?” This shows that failure is something everyone goes through. It helps if you get in there and fail right next to them.

Here are some other responses I might use:

  • “If you practice, you can get better.”
  • “You just gotta practice!”
  • “Give it a shot.”

I like these responses less because they are commands that don’t show the same level of empathy.

You’re in this battle for the long haul. Change doesn’t have to happen immediately, so don’t sweat it, and, most importantly, don’t force it.


Learn to Play

You don’t need to go to the gym to be healthy.

Find an activity that isn’t considered exercise

If she views exercise as work, turn exercise into play. You can go to the pool, ride bikes, ice skate, etc.

With my sister, I chose rock climbing because it is fun and not competitive, so she doesn’t feel as much pressure to be good at it.


Photo credit: Simone Meier; enhanced & cropped (CC BY 2.0)

Make it Easy to Say, “Yes”

The way you phrase the invite to play is crucial.

Make it specific, immediate, and fun

An example: “Hey, we’re going rock climbing right now. Do you want to come?”

We discussed fun above in the section on Play. The request is specific, so she knows exactly what to expect, and the immediacy of the request gives her less time to “reason” herself out of doing it.

Invite her to something you’re going to do whether or not she joins you. If she says no, tell her how much fun you had when you get back and invite her again next time.


Photo credit: Bureau of Land Management, cropped (CC BY 2.0)

Select an age-appropriate activity

When my family and I were trying to get my sister interested in exercise, we brought her to my adult group exercise class. It worked for a little while, but the benefits did not last because she noticed how many more coaching cues she was getting than everyone else (my mistake) and how people cheer on those who succeed.

A few months down the road I invited her to my youth class. I made them play a bunch of games and just sat back and let her participate as much as she wanted. She had a blast (I know because she told me). She even played with another kid for an extra hour. Then she was so happy that she did the adult class afterwards.

I call that a victory.


How to Get Your Daughter to Become More Active

  1. Communicate more effectively: lead by example, stop directing, and start guiding.
  2. Turn exercise into play: find an activity that isn’t considered work.
  3. Make invites specific, immediate, fun, and age-appropriate.

We still have a long way to go with my sister, but I can’t imagine where we’d be had I not started with her when I did.

The sooner we can introduce exercise and healthy behaviors, the more likely those behaviors will last a lifetime. The years of youth dramatically shape how we develop, both mentally and physically. Plant the seed of health in her mind early.

If you need help, please contact me and share this article with other moms who need help.


Click here if you need help with your mobility problems

The Art of Coaching: The Push Up Edition

Using Push Ups to Open Up Your Back

I shot this video a while back and have sat on sharing it because the exercise technique outcome isn’t great. I think, however, this video shows a good example of coaching on the fly.

  1. Watch the subject perform the exercise and identify what is wrong.
  2. Try to think of a cue that will fix everything. If not, fix the issue that will give you the greatest progress.
  3. When that doesn’t work, try something else. For example, you can show them what is happening, or, as I did in the video, grab them and put them in the right position.

So why does his back still look so stiff at the end?

Well, Ben has been working out for a long time. During his years in the gym, he has heavily cemented his push up pattern (the one you see in the video) over this time.

Maybe I could have made it look perfect, but at what cost? Providing too many cues ensures that no long-term progress is made and puts the client in a stressed out psychological state. They’re either frustrated with you, the trainer, for not being able to help them, or they’re frustrated with themselves for not being able to do what you are asking them.

In my experience, I won’t fix Ben in one day. He has too much neurological stiffness to overcome. He’s quite coachable, but he’ll still be resistant to adopting a new pattern.

What I can do, however, is remind him every time he does his push ups to finish with his arms long like they’re reaching through the ground. I could also have him bring his sternum to his spine, as I tried in the video. Or I could try a million other cues.

Then, I’ll probably notice his “reach” is actually just a crunching motion around the level of the 8th thoracic vertebra, T8. That’s that rounded hump in his back that I mention in the video. You’ll notice that the angle here increases after I cue him. He doesn’t want to turn on his serratus anterior muscles to give him the reaching motion, so he makes his arms longer by crunching them forward.

So then, I have to fix the damage from my previous cue. “Try to stay long through here like a board or piece of wood.” The problem is that it’s really difficult to get someone to differentiate levels of the spine like that. Maybe I get out a PVC pipe and put it on his back to help me. Maybe I give him a different exercise. Maybe I leave it alone and see if it gets better next time.

I will remind him every day I see him, and eventually his brain will learn the new pattern. My cues will change in the time being because there may be a better one for him next week. I’m not necessarily striving for perfect form, just better form.

I know all of this might seem like random babble, but the art of coaching is honing in your thought process and sprinkling in creativity. I’m just trying to give you an example.

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