Archive for November, 2010

Importance of a Plan

Short post today, folks.

I hope everyone had a glorious Thanksgiving weekend, filled with way too much food and an early bed time. Hopefully you didn’t go overboard and are back on track today.

From time to time, I like to immerse myself in a program by a top strength coach/trainer in the field. Doing so allows me to gain knowledge of each coach’s strategy for program design. Two months ago, I purchased Eric Cressey’s new product called “Show and Go” and just started Phase 3 today. The progress so far has been great. My strength levels have been gaining pretty consistently week to week, while keeping my weight in the range that I desire. The only addition I’ve made to the program is some extra mobility work relative to areas that need I need improvement in, namely ankle and thoracic spine mobility.

While I definitely recommend checking out “Show and Go”, the main takeaway from this is the importance of a plan. Most people go to the gym with no plan so they walk around aimlessly picking out random machines to use. Even if you have a plan in mind, it’s extremely important to keep your training sessions in writing, preferably a log of some sort that you take with you everyday. This allows you to track your progress as you go and makes it fairly easy to see if you’re improving or just staying mediocre.

If you’re struggling to make progress and looking for a program to help you reach your goals faster, please contact me at ckrattiger@hotmail.com.


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Less is More

Less is more. More is not necessarily better.

When it comes to exercise, whether your goal is to get stronger or to lose weight/fat, people always seem to think that more is automatically better. More exercises, more sets, more reps, 2 hour “cardio” sessions, 47 different bicep exercises. I deal with this situation frequently with new and existing clients.

I started working with a client recently, we’ll call him Joe, who wanted to put on some size/muscle. This is a goal Joe has had for a while and quite frankly, had little to no success in doing so on his own. While talking with Joe, I asked him to give me a sense of his current training regimen. A typical training day for Joe was as follows:

  • 30 minute “warm-up” on treadmill. A light jog.
  • 75 minute strength training session, which primarily consisted of a few machines and some “arm” work.
  • 60 minute spin class.

Not much of a surprise that Joe wasn’t gaining any size and/or muscle with this plan. In fact, I’d venture to say that Joe was getting weaker because he was so tired all the time. Joe would have had to eat a house to recover from these 2+ hour sessions.

I put Joe on a 3 day, full body schedule. We’d start off with some foam rolling, move into a full body dynamic warm-up and then proceed right into strength training. Sessions would last no longer than an hour and in fact, most sessions ended after about 50 minutes. In addition to these 3 days, Joe had an additional day of mobility work and maybe some intervals or a short spin class. After 2 months of this schedule, Joe has gained around 5 pounds, gotten significantly stronger and can still fit in his jeans, which is something he was worried about because he wasn’t at the gym 3 hours per day.

I didn’t tell that story to toot my own horn or come across like a magician. In reality, it was a fairly simple plan that we followed and Joe got great results. If you’re struggling to reach your fitness related goals, maybe it’s time to step back and realize that more is not always better.

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Yesterday, I was given the opportunity the attend a SpiderTech certification course here in Chicago. Chris Nentarz, a Physical Therapist and Performance Enhancement Specialist based out of Buffalo, NY, invited me to attend the course. Being a trainer/strength coach, I was a bit intimidated before attending, knowing that I was going to be surround by PT’s, Chiropractors, etc. who know WAY more than I do.

My fears were quickly cast aside. The course was a great experience and my first time experimenting with any form of kinesiology tape. Kinesiology tape is primarily used in the rehab environment to help deal with injuries or various muscular issues. The first portion of the course was an overview on the effects of pain and how that pain influences the entire “operating system” of the human body.

Next, we went through each and every SpiderTech application. Everyone in the course partnered up and practiced using the pre-cut applications. Although I’ve never used kinesiology tape before, the SpiderTech applications were very easy to work with. I can’t say that I’m a taping expert yet but after attending the course, I would have no reservations using the tape on myself or a client. If you’re a medical professional using some form of kinesiology tape already, I HIGHLY recommend checking out the SpiderTech applications and attending a certification course near you. The pre-cut applications will save the medical professional a whole lot of time cutting and measuring the rolls of tape.

I’ve added a couple pictures of my taping adventure below. As I’m typing this, I still have the posture spider on my upper back and it feels awesome. We were also informed that SpiderTech is taking steps to bring the tape to the performance side and being a trainer, I’m excited to see what they have in store. Thanks to Chris for allowing me to attend and again, if you’re using kinesiology tape right now, please check out SpiderTech.

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Sorry folks, I’ve been MIA for the last week. I picked up Gray Cook’s new book, Movement, and I’ve been pretty immersed in that. If you’re a fitness professional and haven’t gotten a chance to read it yet, I HIGHLY encourage you to get a copy.

Moving along, I wanted to talk a little bit about mobility and a few of my favorite mobility exercises. To the personal trainers/strength coaches/physical therapists out there, these exercises will be nothing groundbreaking. If you’re a fitness professional and not using mobility work with your clients, start. The introduction of these exercises, along with many others, has drastically improved the way my clients move and feel.

1. Bent-Over T-Spine Rotation

In my initial screening of new clients, thoracic spine mobility is normally very limited. This exercise is a great introduction to improving t-spine mobility before moving onto more complicated mobility work. As you’ll see in the video below, make sure to rotate from the mid-back and NOT your lumbar spine.

2. Yoga Plex

This is another great exercise for t-spine mobility, along with the added benefit of hip extension. Follow your hand with your eyes.

3. Wall Ankle Mobilization

Personally, I have poor ankle dorsiflexion so this exercise has been extremely helpful and has allowed me to squat a little deeper given the ROM added.

4. Scapular Wall Slides

Another one of my favorites to decrease upper trap dominance which is a bad habit of mine. If the position is too difficult for people to get into, I’ll start them off with doorway slides.

Add these to your warm-up or in between exercises as part of an active rest. Personally, I love to do mobility work on my off days, as it allows me more time to dedicate to improving the way I move.

Thanks to Tony Gentilcore, Eric Cressey, and Mike Robertson for the videos above.

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A short, random post today…

While leaving the gym after training this morning, I couldn’t help but notice how miserable 95% of commercial gym members look. Slaving away on the elliptical trainer, counting down until they can FINALLY leave, like someone forced them to be there. Maybe it’s from watching The Biggest Loser. The contestants are treated like crap, look insanely unhappy but hey, they get results so that must be the way to do it.




The point I want you to take away from this is to find activities that you like to do. This may take some trial and error. Never lifted weights? Find someone who REALLY knows what they are doing and try it out. Always wanted to play tennis? Go sign up for some lessons. Find your passion. Stop wasting time doing things that you hate. I can guarantee that no one aspires to be an elliptical training all-star.

Personally, I like to lift heavy things, run sprints, and play sports. I enjoy training. I enjoy “working out”.  Hopefully, you will soon.

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