Function and Fitness Blog
Function and Fitness Blog
Coach Jess
5:00 AM

What’s With These Single Leg Exercises?

As I’ve noticed in our gym, a lot of us dread doing anything on a single leg - our balance is thrown off - we fall - and generally, we just kind of feel silly or that we look stupid.

So if everyone hates single leg exercises, then why do we put them in all of the programming we do? Because, they’re super good for you, of course!

Single-leg training is awesome for developing balance, coordination, and even optimal for developing strength.

Here are some examples of the single-leg training we do in the gym:
  • Single Leg Romanian Deadlifts
  • Rear-Foot-Elevated (either on a bench or in TRX straps) Squats
  • Single Leg Cable Woodchops

Mike Boyle (one of our fave gurus in the gym because a lot of what he says just, bottom line, makes sense) believes, "You do almost everything in sports in a split stance, or by pushing off one leg from a parallel stance, so it just makes sense to train your body that way."

Training on a single-leg allows you to sprint, change direction, and produce force equally from both sides of your body while also developing stabilizers and small muscle groups that are critical for injury prevention. We love injury prevention!

Additionally, Boyle believes that "[Single-leg exercises] promote great muscle growth and great muscle strength because they work more muscles." For example, you engage three more muscles in a Single-Leg Squat than in a traditional two-legged Squat. Boyle notes that if you train one leg at a time, and then try a traditional Squat, you’ll most likely hit a new personal squat record.

So, while we know that you hate the idea of standing on one leg (especially when that other leg is in the TRX straps) it’s going to help your balance - and also make you stronger! And that’s something we can all stand behind.

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

“I Could Barely Walk It Was Such a Good Workout”

We’re all programmed to think that soreness = a great workout. People tell their gym “war stories” with pride. “I worked out so hard the other day I could barely move for the next few days.” Uh…

Let’s get something straight right here, not being able to move for a few days after a workout does not mean that it was a good workout. It actually most likely means that it was too hard for you, or it wasn’t designed well. As The American Council on Exercise explains, “An appropriate workout creates a sense of mild soreness, where you can feel that the muscles experienced a challenge; it should not be a debilitating, painful soreness that lasts for several days.”

And going to the gym when you are still in super pain? Not such a great idea. You want to fully recover - to the point where there is almost no soreness at all before working those muscles again. This is why we always tell beginners to exercise to ease into it. This is also why we always advise that you roll or stretch after a workout, and why we always include a little cool-down stretch after every team training.

As your exercise level increases, the soreness will decrease and you’ll start finding that you aren’t nearly as sore as when you started your exercise routine. You might also find that adding supplements (and as always, having a great nutrition plan) will help increase your body’s ability to repair itself so you have less of those “I could barely walk days.”

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Do You Need to Workout Every Single Day?

Someone recently asked me if they needed to workout every day to see results.

Honestly, it’s a hard question to answer, and here’s why:
You need days off - especially if you are weight training. You actually don’t build muscle while you are lifting - you build it when you are recovering. As The American Council on Exercise explains, “The workout is the stimulus, while recovery and improvement is the physical response.” Basically, you work the body and your muscles hard during your training, and the body rebuilds and responds to that work during your rest.

But does that mean you shouldn’t do anything (a.k.a. be a complete couch potato) on your “rest days”? Again, I’ll throw it to The American Council on Exercise: “A rest day is really any non-training day—a day where you remove the challenge of hard exercise.” “Hard” being the key word here. A rest day does not mean you get to just be a lazy-sweat-pant-wearing-couch-laying-sloth (sorry!) Sure, you shouldn’t be going all out on your rest day, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move. Use your rest day (and the hour not spent in the gym) to go on a walk, golf, play hide and seek with the kids, or even engage in a lighter type of workout, like a light yoga class or light stretching - essentially anything where you aren’t lifting weights or going to your all out max. All of these things will help you feel less sore, and also keep your body moving - which is something you should always do.

So do you need to workout every day? No, but you should definitely get off those old bones and move every day!

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Why We Don’t Do Sit-Ups

For years the standard exercise routines looked like this: push-ups, squats, pull-ups and, OF COURSE, sit-ups. So whenever we mention that we don't do sit-ups in our gym, there’s no wonder that we get a lot of puzzled faces.

Here’s why we don’t do them:

Crunches are actually terrible for your back.

As Dr. Richard Guyer, president of the Texas Back Institute explains (http://www.newsweek.com/stop-doing-sit-ups-why-crunches-dont-work-222416), crunches place an unhealthy strain on your back at your back’s weakest point.

“There are only so many bends or a ‘fatigue life’,” in your spinal disks,” says Stuart M. McGill, professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo. As McGill explains, there's a mucus-like nucleus inside each disk of your spine, and “if you keep flexing your spine and bending the disk over and over again, that nucleus slowly breaches the layers and causes a disk bulge, or a disk herniation.” Yikes!

So how do you get those sculpted abs without the old-fashioned sit-up?

I’m always going to answer this one with the age-old adage: “abs are made in the kitchen.” We might laugh, but it’s true! We all know that you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. And you’re going to need a lower body fat percentage to actually see those cut abs.

But how do you get those “cut, strong, ripped” abs? And even better yet, how are you going to train your body to feel it’s best? By training your abs in a way that strengthens their function and what they are actually supposed to do: keeping your spine straight and secure while also providing power for your movements. As McGill explains, “the abdominals are braces.” When you’re doing any form of movement - in the gym or out of the gym —“the spine is in a neutral posture, not flexed, and the abdominal muscles are contracted to brace the spine.”

And how do you train in a way that best serves your ab’s purpose? With all those awesome core exercises we do! For example:
  • planks
  • anti-rotation cable press out
  • push-ups (it’s a moving plank)
  • USB press-outs
  • basically every move we do in the gym, because YES! Your core should be engaged!
So if you’re wondering why we don’t do sit-ups, think of it this way: we’re just trying to “have your back!” As in, literally, we’re trying to save your back. And besides, you always hated sit-ups anyway.

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Where Does the Fat Go?

We’re all looking for ways to shed fat, (hopefully you’re finding your weight loss plans are most accomplished with diet and exercise) but where does that actually fat go?

According to  Andrew Brown from the University of New South Wales and Australian Physicist Ruben Meerman, “The correct answer is that most of the mass is breathed out as carbon dioxide. It goes into thin air.”

To get reallll science-y about it, IFL Science  explains it like this: “Excess carbs and proteins are converted into chemical compounds called triglycerides (which consist of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen) and then stored in the lipid droplets of fat cells. To lose weight, you’re attempting to metabolize those triglycerides, and that means unlocking the carbon that’s stored in your fat cells.”

To summarize, losing 10kg (a little over 22 lbs) of fat breaks down like this:

8.4kg is exhaled as carbon dioxide

1.6 kg becomes water, which is excreted through urine, feces, sweat, breath, tears, and other bodily fluids.

So does this mean you can breathe yourself thin by inhaling and exhaling more? Nope. As we all know, inhaling and exhaling quickly can cause you to feel dizzy and nauseous. So maybe don’t try that exactly, but hey, here’s just one more reason for those deep inhales and exhales that we do at the beginning and end of each class!