KR contributes a bi-weekly fitness column to the Edmonton Journal.

How important is stretching?

Despite popular culture’s obsession with flexibility, stretching may in fact be hindering your progress in the gym. To be clear, this has less to do with physiology and more to do with priority. When starting out, I often ask new clients to complete a simple exercise to determine priorities. Pretty simple, really: itemize your top three goals and assign a percentage to each one. To be successful, exercisers should pay particular attention to the goal that occupies the biggest piece …

Don’t fall for misleading diet and exercise headlines

Here’s a headline you don’t see every day: Regular physical activity and healthy eating: The secrets to a long, healthy life. Don’t get me wrong, the story is out there. It’s just most readers can’t get past the physical activity and healthy eating part. Now, replace those offending words with ‘miracle diet pill’ or ‘effort-reduced exercise’ and you’ll be speed-reading like someone with intestinal problems scanning an Imodium package. Many writers spark interest by misrepresenting content, while others just mislead …

Slow down your lifting speed to maximize results

According to my driving record, going fast may get you to your destination quicker but it’s not without cost. The most frequent question I receive from readers and clients has to do with exercise selection. Frankly, anybody can pull together a reasonable list of exercises — squat, row, push-up, there you go. Did he say squat, then row, before push-up? Wow, he’s good! (Again, not rocket science.) The complexity of proper exercise prescription comes in the navigation of learner readiness, …

Pigs and chickens

Most people have heard the business analogy about pigs and chickens. (When making a plate of bacon and eggs, the chicken is involved but the pig is fully committed.) Degree of commitment is often a predictor of outcome — you can’t ‘kind of’ jump out of a plane or scale a mountain. You’re either two-feet-in, like the pig, or squatting on the sideline. Losing weight and becoming fit are no different. Once you start adding escape clauses to your commitment …

Don’t let short-term failures derail long-term success

The road to shapely thighs and tighter arms is a winding one. Pitfalls, sidetracks and detours derail the best of us with constant temptations. The path to ice cream, on the other hand is a straight line with a hard right at the fridge. As frustrating as stop-and-go progress can be, the ultimate prize comes from getting back up after a setback, which can be difficult when the immediate rush of chocolate fudge brownie fogs the long-term vision of better …

A little research never hurts

When new clients visit the studio, we often set up the TRX. For those who don’t speak fluent ‘gym class’ TRX is a set of straps developed by a soldier stationed in the desert without access to workout equipment. We hang the popular black and yellow straps because they look good. If TRX straps aren’t dangling from the ceiling, some people ask why we don’t have them. After they leave, we pull them down and throw them in the corner …

Brains over brawn

Stuck? Sometimes fitness goals squat like an immovable boulder. The scale won’t budge, pants won’t cooperate, and mirrors don’t forgive. Over time we become despondent as best efforts fall short. Without a change in tactics, frustration turns to complacency and, eventually, permanence. According to the American Psychological Association, lack of willpower is the number one reason people abandon their goals. We try, we stall, we fail, we give up. With nose to the grindstone and clenched teeth, successful people stay …

Resilience and grit help us survive and thrive

For our ancestors, resilience and grit kept you breathing. No stretching, no massages, no sun salutations. Those who didn’t work hard didn’t make it. With a few exceptions, modern survival is included in the price of admission. Just show up and you’ll be fine. No hunting or gathering. Buffet opens at 4 p.m. Essentials such as lifting, running and climbing have been replaced by corporate behaviours such as political acumen and SMART goal management. Don’t get me wrong, I would …

Summer offers ideal time to embrace healthy habits

Finally, summer. Enough said. Further remarks may be completely unnecessary, however I’m never one to let brevity stand in the way of additional commentary. There’s no better time of year to establish inroads to better health. Fresh, local produce and warm evening walks are exactly what the doctor ordered. After enjoying a few balmy evenings take some time to set the stage for new healthy behaviors. Long weekends — With good planning and the occasional well-placed stat holiday, summer vacation can …

How Many Push Ups?

How many proper push ups can you do? Was your response driven by ego or accuracy? Many who stake claim to 30 push-ups find the real number is much closer to eight. Others who answer zero may not have given it the necessary time. If your bench press has become stale, think about rediscovering push-ups. More than just a warmup, the push-up is a great equipment-free exercise that strengthens your push muscles (chest, shoulders, triceps plus core) while improving overall …