Viewing entries tagged
muscles

Screw the Scale

1 Comment

Screw the Scale

I get this question a lot: “I just started exercising, so why am I gaining weight?” I’m pretty sure many of us have experienced this. We start a new training program and the number on the scale stays the same, or even worse, it goes up. Truth is, this is completely normal - and temporary. When we start a new exercise program and our bodies aren’t adjusted to that type of stress, our muscles may become inflamed. Most of the weight you see on the scale is probably not fat, but temporary water weight due to inflammation. However, it could also be an increase in muscle mass. Yay!

Again, one reason you may have gained weight in your first month of training is due to inflammation. When you work out a given muscle, you’re basically causing tears in your muscle fibers. This is usually referred as "microtrauma" and is why you feel sore the next day. But on the bright side, your body heals these little tears and makes your muscles stronger as you continue to lift heavy weights - essentially, your body adapts to the stress. That’s how you can get stronger and more fit: you create adaptation to whatever you’re doing, whether its cardiovascular training or strength training. During the first month of a new training program - especially if you’re new to fitness - there’s definitely going to be a lot of adaptation going on and these fluid build-ups caused by inflammation might show up on the scale. But don’t worry, once your body is adapted to this stress, the scale should go back down. Just keep working hard and trust the process.

Another reason why you might see weight gain within the first few weeks of training is that you’re building muscle faster than you’re losing fat. Muscle is more dense than fat, thus taking up less space. Next time, rather than stepping on a scale, measure your circumference instead. It’s often the case that, if you do gain muscle mass, the scale might go up, but you’ll probably fit better in your jeans.

Often times, we define fitness by body weight. I’ve seen so many people throughout their fitness journeys lose motivation because the scale wasn’t budging. But what does that number really mean? Does that mean they’re not progressing? Not getting stronger? Not becoming healthier? Chances are, the answer is no. Place the scale aside and focus on what really matters. Do your clothes fit better? Do you feel better? Are you happier? If the answer is yes, disregard the scale.

People may not consider the early changes to their bodies as a good thing. The key is to not let that number define your hard work and discourage you from working out or eating healthy. So, instead of weighing yourself, pay attention to what really matters: strength, endurance, health, how you feel, and most importantly, happiness. You’re so much more than just a number! Again, once you’ve been working out consistently, your muscle gains and water weight should stabilize. So keep doing what you’re doing and don’t lose faith. Be patient. Stick with your program. Don’t let any arbitrary number tell you how well or not you’re doing if you’re seeing positive physical changes. Like what successful people say, “Age is just a number.” Well..your weight is just a number, too.


 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

WTF is Manual Muscle Testing?!

1 Comment

WTF is Manual Muscle Testing?!

When you’re sweating through your workout at P4L, or if you’ve ever just walked by the gym and peered through the windows, you may have noticed a few coaches standing around and weirdly pushing on their client’s limbs and muscles. A client may be standing or sitting or even lying on a massage table as a coach pushes or pulls at an arm or leg from a multitude of awkward angles. What’s going on at P4L? It may look a bit strange, but what’s actually being done is a very cool tool called manual muscle testing.

Manual muscle testing is a diagnostic tool that comes from Applied Kinesiology with which a practitioner can evaluate whether or not a muscle is neurologically functional. It works by having a patient or client perform a muscle movement that the practitioner manually challenges so as to see whether or not the client can appropriately meet the resistance. Maybe it’s best to use an example to explain what I mean.

Let’s say I want to muscle test my client’s latissimus dorsi, or lat (a muscle located on the back side of the body). The client may be standing, seated, or even lying down and I’d begin by having her internally rotate her shoulder (so that their palm is facing away from their body, below).

Then, I’d instruct her to meet my resistance as I pull her arm away from her body into flexion and abduction (in front of and away from the body), thereby challenging her to adduct (pull toward the body), extend (pull behind the body), and internally rotate the shoulder in one motion, which are all the muscle actions of the latissimus dorsi.

This is why I have my client maneuver in such a specific way - so that I can target one specific muscle and challenge it to perform its main action by trying to pull it in the opposite direction of said action.

This is just one example, but we have muscle tests for all the major muscles of the body, so now that you know how it works, you might be able to see how manual muscle testing is a handy tool for thoroughly assessing a variety of movements from head to toe. We can test whether muscles can contract and relax properly, which is very important from a neurological standpoint. Clients can tell us if activating a specific muscle causes pain, which can lead us to the right steps for resolving and preventing that pain. We can look for areas of weakness or for weakness in specific muscles that may correlate to dysfunctions in exercise, which can then help us to correct movement.

Manual muscle testing is one of the many tools some of us use alongside our exercise programming and bodywork, and it has definitely been a useful one. It's helped some of my clients improve muscle activation, reduce or prevent pain, and achieve their goals. So the next time you notice a training session on the floor that looks a little different, just know that our clients and patients are (literally) in good hands. Maybe even give it a try yourself!


1 Comment

Check Yourself, Before You Wreck Yourself: A Joint-by-Joint Analysis

Comment

Check Yourself, Before You Wreck Yourself: A Joint-by-Joint Analysis

The body works in alternating patterns of stable segments, connected by mobile joints. If this pattern is altered- dysfunction and compensation will  occur.” -Grey Cook

All of us have experienced pain or discomfort at some point of our lives, so what have we done to treat it? 

Maybe you’ve visited the doc just for him/her to say: “Take this pain medication”. Or maybe a practitioner has told you, “ Why don’t you ice it, stretch it, massage it?” How did any of those methods serve you? Probably didn’t work well, right? 

My first few years as a strength and conditioning coach I assumed that my clients who had back pain due to having tight back muscles, that the muscles needed stretching, or that the core was weak. But now, after furthering my education in assessment protocols such as Functional Movement ScreeningTPI, and others, I have learned that treating the symptoms does not fix the source of pain.

Comment