Fitness Tip #18 of #31 Proper Technique And Injury Prevention

In my humble (OK, expert) opinion I would rank proper exercise form as the second most important factor in having success with your fitness goals. What’s the most important you ask? I’ll never tell! Ok, just kidding. The most important component to being successful is consistency. If you follow all my advice to the letter and have perfect form on every rep of every set on every exercise, but you only do it once or twice each month, you won’t see any results. Hopefully this is so obvious to you that you’ll understand why I didn’t even include it as a tip.

Anyway back to proper technique. When you perform an exercise incorrectly you end up emphasizing muscles other than were originally intended to be emphasized. The end result of this is that you’ll either develop strength and flexibility imbalances or you will exacerbate the imbalances you already have. When you have flexibility and or muscle imbalances you typically will have some pain, stiffness or muscle discomfort (think low back pain). Plus you put yourself at greater risk of injury when you engage in physical activities prior to addressing these imbalances.

Here’s the beauty of exercise. When done correctly it will fix your strength and flexibility imbalances. This will decrease your pain and also decrease the likelihood of experiencing an injury.

Not only will doing exercises incorrectly lead to imbalances: it can also create faulty movement patterns. Once faulty movement patters are established it can take a ton of work to correct. In fact you can develop a faulty movement pattern in as little as 300 repetitions. But it can take over 5000 repetitions to correct a faulty movement pattern.

So it’s always easier to learn proper technique when you are first starting to exercise. Trust me you’ll be rewarded for the rest of your life.

So how do you ensure that you’re doing things correctly. First of all listen and watch very closely to the videos I’ve included in this program. That is a great start. Second find a trained professional in your area and work with them for a short period of time. Tell them your goal up front. You are there to learn as much as you can about proper technique as fast as you can, then you plan to work out on your own.

Depending on your income level, personal trainers can be expensive. But the investment is well worth it.

Oh yeah! Check back periodically with Fitness Know How Headquarters, I’ll always be adding new information.

I’ll check back with you tomorrow with another tip…

Fitness Tip #15 of #31 Take The Stairs (No elevators/escalators)

Hope your goal setting was an awesome experience for you yesterday. So you should be totally fired up about getting going today. This tip you’ve heard before, take the stairs instead of escalators and elevators. This is right in line with an earlier fitness tip (Park in the furthest parking spot every place you park). By taking the stairs you are going to increase your daily energy expenditure.

Now I know the extent at which you increase activity levels will vary considerably based on how often you encounter elevators and escalators in your daily life. If you don’t today is like a “free pass” day. But if you do your energy expenditure could go through the roof (not literally) with this tip.

Stairs are awesome. You’ll increase you aerobic function and you’ll build considerable strength in your legs just by changing this one habit.

If your co-workers ask what you’re doing, tell them. This will show them you’re serious about making positive changes in your life.

Have fun with this one…see you tomorrow

Fitness Tip #14 of #31 Set Goals For Beyond The 31 Days

Ok We’re nearing the half way mark of “31 Days to a Much Improved You”. If you remember on day one I asked you to list some individual goals for the month. How are you doing with your goals? Are you stuggling? Have you given up? Are you on track? Or are you somewhere in between?

Today I’d like for you to revisit those goals and assess how you’re doing. Based on your assessment do you just need to keep rocking it this month? Do you need to change or modify your initial intentions? Or do you need to do a little soul searching and start all over?

Whatever the case is sit down and take some time to evaluate how you’ve been doing and what you still want to accomplish in the next two weeks. Something that may help you over the next two weeks is to define some goals for yourself after this month.

Now that we’re nearing the half way point it’s time to begin preparing for long term success. So take some time today and figure out what your long term health, fitness and/or weight loss goals are. Sky’s the limit here so have fun. But remember if the goal is going to take some time to accomplish also set some short term attainable goals that will act assteps to your ultimate goals.

Here’s a reminder on good goal setting strategies;

Use the follow list to help you with your Goal Setting:

1. Decide what you want to accomplish
2. Set goals that are short, attainable and measureable
3. Create a deadline to accomplish your goal(s)
4. Develop and action plan for success
5. Visualize accomplishing your goals
6. Write your goals down
7. Review your goals daily
8. Take daily action toward your goals

Have fun, enjoy and I’ll be back tomorrow with your next Health and Fitness Tip!

31 Days To A Much Improved You – Tip #9 Add These Four Core Exercises




The Bridge is a great core exercise. It helps to strengthen the hamstrings, gluteals, and all of the muscles that support the lower spine and pelvis. This picture shows the end position of the bridge. To start you want to lye flat on the ground, bend your knees to about 90 degrees. Then press through your heels and lift your hips toward the ceiling. The goal is to lift your hips high enough so that there is a straight line through your knees, hips and shoulders. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat 3 times.








The Plank is a core exercise that is rooted in Yoga. It helps to strengthen all the muscles that stabilize the spine and pelvis as well as the shoulder. Start by lying flat on the ground. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulder and your feet should be together with your weight on your toes. Lift your hips up so that only your toes and elbows (forearms too) are on the ground. Lift your hips until there is a straight line through your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.  The weight of your body should be directly over your elbows and toes. You should avoid pressing forward on your elbows or backward on your toes. Also avoid “A-framing” (hips too high) or “Sagging” (hips too low). Hold this position for as long as you can. Repeat 3 times.







This is called a pointer because when you perform it you look like a pointer dog. Start on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Lift your right hand and left knee one inch of the ground. Hole this position while attempting to avoid any movement in the rest of your body. Take 4 seconds to slowly extend both your arm and leg simultaneously. Then take 4 seconds to return them to the start position (with out touching your hand and knee to the ground). Do 8-12 Repetitions on each side.






Boat Pose

Boat Pose 

The Boat Pose is also rooted in Yoga. I typically call this Coccyx Balance, because your coccyx bone is your tailbone. Balance on your tailbone lift your feet so that your shins are parallel to the ground. Your arms should be by your side, also parallel to the ground. Lift your sternum (breast bone), so that your spine is flat. Hold as long as you can. Repeat 3 times.






Add theses four core exercises to your daily routing. Do them everyday. Watch the video below to learn more about how to perform these exercises correctly. I’ll be back tomorrow with Tip #10



Fitness Tip #8 of #31 Eliminate The Excuses

Congratulations! We’ve completed the first week Of “31 Days To A Much Healthier you”. At this point you should be doing all of the following each and every day: walking an hour, drinking a gallon of water, doing your 4 introductory stretches, as well as journaling your experiences. How’s it going? OK, rhetorical question, I know you’re rocking it and already beginning to notice some benefits!

But the truth is a vast majority of people quit their new exercise or diet programs during the first week. I don’t want you to be that person. I want you to succeed! One of the biggest obstacles you’ll faceis the idea that a diet or workout program is temporary. You have those ideas because that is how the fitness and diet industries promote their programs. You see it all the time, things like, “lose 15 pounds in 15 days” or “Sign up today for our 21 day fat burning miracle workout”. The fact is those programs work great, for some. They work for the people who are selling them to you! They make billions of dollars every year selling them, but they don’t work for you. In fact they set you up for failure, so that you can come back again and buy their next program.

I think I was very clear when I introduced this 31 Day program not to look at day 31 as the end of the journey. But instead you should look at day 32 as the start of you being empowered with tons of new information and habits you can use for the rest of your life. You’ll need to make changes in your daily behavior if you want to make changes in your life. Anything short of that simply won’t work. That may not sound as fun and exciting as all the other programs out there. But it’s the truth! And those other programs are ripping you off!!!

So when you’re faced with the task of actually changing your behavior, is your first reaction to resist that change? Are you uncomfortable with making changes and doing things differently than you have in the past? Does it seem overwhelming and unachievable? If you have any of these feelings or thoughts, the first thing you are going to do is come up with excuses why it won’t work for you.

Excuses will get in the way of accomplishing anything, every time.

As soon as you have those thoughts or feelings, squash them! Stop them immediately, and find solutions instead. Now this will be a process for you, part of the journey. It’s ok that you have these thoughts and feelings. The goal for you is to be able to recognize them and begin to change the way you are thinking. As soon as you recognize that you’re making an excuse, start to find the solutions.

Sometimes it will be very easy. If you’re saying to yourself that you’re too tired to workout, just go workout anyways, you’ll feel better. Now if you’re too tired because you stayed up late (watching TV, playing video games, or on FaceBook).You simply need to reprioritize, put your health ahead of those things and go to sleep earlier.

See how easy this is?

Ok, here’s the deal, from now on NO MORE EXCUSES, ONLY SOLUTIONS! Get to it…

See you again tomorrow…

Fitness Tip #3 of #31 Journal Every Day

As you make these daily changes I’d like you to begin to document your experiences in a daily journal. By doing so you’ll be able to look back on these 31 day and gain a clearer understanding regarding which fitness tips were simple for you and where your challenges lie. Journaling is a good problem solving tool and helps to provide valuable self-knowledge. Spend some time each day documenting the food you eat, the activities you’re engaged in and what your feelings and emotions are with those experiences. Select a convienent method to document your journey, one that is easy for you to get to each day. Whether it’s a store bought journal, a blank piece of paper, a notebook, a word document, or an app on your iPhone: select whatever will work best for you.

Here are ways the Journaling will help you this month and beyond.

It’s Flexible and Easy

Journaling has no rules. You can use your own style and processing methods. It’s fine to be a little messy and have typos and poor writing. It can be applied to clarify anysituation in your life It doesn’t take much time to slow down, pay attention and listen to yourself.

Stress Reduction
Journaling help you to increase your focus by allowing time to analyze your thoughts. It can help to release pent-up thoughts and emotions and bring stability by allowing you to process situations in an appropriate way.

Journaling can help you to strengthen your sense of yourself by revealing and tracking patterns and cycles in your life. It allows you to act as your own counselor and integrate the highs and lows in your life. It is always honest, trusting, non-judgmental

Know Yourself
By recording your past you’ll begin to clarify your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. You’ll learn how you think, learn and create. As you shift to the observer, recorder, counselor you’ll begin to identify an awareness of your beliefs and options so you can change them. You’ll develop confidence and self knowledge and you’ll feel better about yourself.

Personal Growth
Journaling helps to measure and track what is important to you. It will allow you to integrate life’s experiences and learning’s and start the sorting and grouping process. This self expression will plant the seeds to create more results in your life and enable you to live life to the fullest

Problem Solving
When you journal you develop new perspectives that will bring things together and help make decisions a whole lot easier.
Captures Your Life Story
Journaling allows you to look back on your life experiences and recall with clarity, what was going on in your life at that specific time. What you were thinking, feeling andexperiences. When you capture you’re story, your left with something concrete to leave for the next generation.

Now grab a piece of paper and get to it! Enjoy and I’ll be back tomorrow…

Fitness Tip #2 of #31 Take A One Hour Walk

Moderate physical activities will yield tremendous physical benefits. Those benefits include decreased risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Improvement in blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The increase in physical activity will result increase energy (caloric) expenditure which will help to decrease your body fat percentage. Your metabolism will improve not only during exercise but also for a short period after activity. Improvements in aerobic capacity will help to make all of your activities of daily living easier, resulting in more energy throughout the day.

Here’s the deal…

Take a one hour walk today and every single day for the next 30 days. Push yourself a little. Select a pace that increases your breathing to the point that you’d be able to carry on a conversation, but you’d be unable to sing. Here are some modifications. If you can’t walk for 60 straight minutes, break it up into two 30 minute walks or four 15 minute walks. Or walk as long as you can and add 1-2 minutes each day. If you aren’t certain that you can  walk for 60 minutes please walk laps around your block (or a couple blocks), do not attempt to walk away from your home for 30 minutes only to find you can’t make it back. I’m not coming to get you!

 If you already do cardiovascular exercise of any type simply add a 60 minute walk on the days that you don’t participate in more vigorous exercise.

 If you can do vigorous aerobic activity for 60 minutes every day, then you already appreciate all the benefits of cardiovascular fitness. Rock On!

              Here is a short list of more benefits of Cardiovascular/Aerobic Exercise

1. Instant feel-good. You will feel invigorated for hours after training
2. Train your heart. The heart is a muscle and cardio is its strength training
3. Increased endurance and stamina. Get through your day without a cat-nap.
4. Increased confidence right away!
5. Healthy lungs
6. Increases metabolism for up to 24 hours
7. Improves immune system. Being sick less equals more days to work out!
8. Reduces stress
9. Improves circulation. You will be less sore after weight training
10. Sleep better
11. Relief from depression and anxiety
12. Reduced risk of some cancers
13. Reduced risk of heart disease
14. Lower blood pressure
15. Lowers cholesterol
16.. Live longer

Enjoy your walk! See you tomorrow for Fitness Tip #3

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Flexibility is an important component of every fitness program.

Flexibility Programs can be performed everyday. With Resistance Training, you should always take a day off between training muscle groups. And with Cardiovascular Exercise,  you should plan on one or two days of rest each week.

Adding a Flexibility or Stretching element to your fitness program will improve your results in many ways. That’s because there are many benefits to improving your Flexibility, including;

  1. Relaxation of Stress and Tension
  2. Muscular Relaxation
  3. Self-Discipline
  4. Body Fitness, Posture, and Symmetry
  5. Relief of Low Back Pain
  6. Relief of Muscular Cramps
  7. Relief of Muscular Soreness
  8. Injury Prevention
  9. Enjoyment and Pleasure
  10. Union of the Body, Mind and Spirit

There are several common Stretching Techniques that you can utilize to improve and achieve optimal Flexibility.

The first (and most obvious) is Self Stretching.  This is the easiest way to get started, and that’s because you are always available to stretch yourself. Plus you are always with you. So you can Self Stretch any place, at home, the gym, hotel room, etc.  There are  three general sub-categories of Self Stretching.

  1. Static Stretching
  2. Ballistic Stretching
  3. Dynamic Stretching


Static Stretch – With a Static Stretch you will move into the stretch and once you feel the stretch, hold that position. Typically the stretch is held for a relatively long period of time (20-60 seconds). To get the most out of Static Stretching you should exhale into the stretch and relax as much a possible. You’ll also notice that after 20-40 seconds the sensation of the stretch will decrease. When that happens you should move into the stretch a little bit more and hold that “new” position for an additional 20-30 seconds.

There are several benefits of Self, Static Stretching. It is convenient. You can do it anytime, and anywhere. It feels good and is very relaxing. And it is very safe.

The downside of Self, Static Stretching is that the improvements that you will experience during the workout are often times transitory. Meaning that you’ll notice an improvement in your range of motion during the workout, but those gains are quickly lost. It’s common to be right back where you started at the beginning of your next stretching workout. While you can improve your flexibility over time, the process with Self, Static Stretching is very slow and will require a lot of patience.

Ballistic Stretching– Ballistic Stretching is also a Self Stretching technique. Its different from Static Stretching in that you will bounce in and out of the stretch at the end of your range of motion.

There is one benefit to Ballistic Stretching. If you are about to perform an activity that requires quick, explosive movements, then ballistic stretching can be used as part of the warm up to prepare you body for that activity.

But there are several downsides to ballistic stretching. There is a risk of bouncing too far into a stretch. This could result in a muscle strain. Which can lead to pain and soreness. Also repeatedly over stretching and straining muscles can lead to damage and scar tissue. Scar tissue, unlike muscle tissue is not elastic (it doesn’t stretch), therefore over the long term you could experience a reduction in range of motion/flexibility. Also there is a nervous system protective mechanism that will cause your muscle to contract if they are rapidly over stretched. This contraction’s purpose is to prevent a muscle pull. By performing ballistic stretches you can trigger this response. If you do, a contracted muscle is more tense than a relaxed muscle, thus you limit your ability to stretch it.

If you plan on integrating Ballistic Stretching into your program, make sure that you are fully warmed up and stretched out. Then perform the ballistic stretches prior to your event (game/practice). Also your ballistic stretches should replicate the activity that you’re going to be performing.

Dynamic Stretching– The final type of Self Stretch is a Dynamic Stretch. With Dynamic Stretching you will move into and out of stretches. But unlike Ballistic Stretching you won’t bounce at the end of the stretch. Instead you’ll move slower and through your entire range of motion into and out of the stretch. These movement are more complex than typical stretches. Think along the line of a flow Yoga class, Tai Chi, or a dancer warming up. These type of movements have been merging into athletics so you might be familiar with some of them.

There are a ton of benefits to Dynamic Stretching. First of all it takes strength to move into and out of the stretches. As you develop an increased range of motion you’ll simultaneously be developing strength in that new found range of motion. That is the key to maintaining flexibility and seeing rapid improvements. It is safe. You can easily replicate the movement patterns of your upcoming activity. You’re body temperature will stay elevated. Being properly warmed up is vital to an effective Flexibility workout.

The only downside to Dynamic Flexibility is that the movements can be complex. It’s easy for people to perform them incorrectly. So you’ll need to take some time and learn how to do the stretches the correct way.

The Second Type of Stretch is an Assisted Stretch

Assisted Stretches utilize a partner to help you achieve a greater stretch. No matter how much you know about Flexibility, a stretching partner will always be able to generate a deeper stretches than attempting to stretch on your own. The obstacle is that you are dependent upon some one else. That person may not always be available.

The three general sub-categories of Assisted Stretching are;

  1. Passive
  2. Active Assist
  3. PNF

Passive Stretch– With a Partner Assisted, Passive Stretch the stretchee should relax as much as possible. The stretch partner will move the stretchee into all of the stretches. Once a full stretch is achieved the Partner will hold that position for a specific period of time. This time is similar to the Self Static Stretching (20-60 seconds).

The benefits of Passive Stretching is that it is very safe. You can experience a deeper stretch than you’re able to on your own. It can be done anywhere.

The only downside is that you are dependant on someone else to assist you who may not always be available. And progress can be quite slow, like the Self Static stretch. It may feel like you’re starting at the same level at the beginning of each workout.

Active Assist– Active Assist is similar to Passive except the Stretchee is engaged in the process. For an Active Assist stretch, the stretchee will move into the stretch (using the opposing muscle group) as far a possible. At that point the assistant will push the stretchee into a deeper stretch. This type of stretch takes advantage of a physiological response in the body called Reciprocal Inhibition. Reciprocal Inhibition can be somewhat difficult to understand. But just know this. In order for your body to move, muscles must contract. To perform a specific movement you have to contract specific muscles, also the muscles that perform the opposite of your desired movement must relax. Those relaxed muscles are neurologically inhibited.

That inhibition results in a deeper stretch. The Active Assist stretch begins to utilized some of the principles of the final type of stretch PNF.

The benefits of the Partner Active Assist Stretch is that you’ll experience deeper stretching and improved results compared to Static and Passive Stretching.

The downside is that you’re still dependant upon a partner.

PNF– PNF stands for Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation. Proprioception is subconscious awareness of your body in time and space. Try this. Extend your right arm out to your side then close your eyes. Slowly bend your elbow and bring your finger in toward your nose. Stop just before you touch your nose. Now open your eyes. Your finger got pretty close to your nose with out touching it, didn’t it? That is because you have proprioceptors (sensory nerves) in every joint in your body, including your elbow. You had a sense of the angle of your elbow and the position of your finger even though you couldn’t see them. That’s proprioception.

So in PNF Stretching the assistant takes advantage of our knowledge of how the nervous system and proprioceptors work. There are several techniques available within the realm of PNF Stretching.  Including;

  1. Repeated Contractions
  2. Rhythmic Initiation
  3. Slow Reversal
  4. Slow Reversal-Hold
  5. Rhythmic Stabilization
  6. Contract-Relax
  7. Hold-Relax
  8. Slow Reversal-Hold-Relax
  9. Agonistic Reversal

The benefit of PNF is that it is very effective at increasing Flexibility within a workout session. It also results in rapid flexibility improvements over time. It has been studied extensively and it is very effective. In addition to improvements in Flexibility it also helps improve strength and joint stability. In my opinion Dynamic Self Stretch and Partner Assisted PNF are the way to go.

Now for the downside of PNF. If you’re interested in improving your flexibility, but you’ve decided to go to school and pursue a career in something other than fitness you are probably unsure about how to implement PNF into your workouts. That’s because it’s complicated. You have to have an extensive background in exercise science and specific training in the administration of PNF stretching techniques. That is a huge downside. You can’t just grab your spouse or a friend and head out to the gym and do PNF stretching.

If you’re serious about your Flexibility and you want to incorporate PNF into your routine, then you should seek out a professional in your area for help. It will be worth it. Otherwise stick to the other techniques I’ve addressed in this post. But do add a Flexibility component to your routine. You’ll feel great and your body will thank you.

For more information about Flexibility Click Here

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