Free Weights Versus Machines

Over my many years of training people I’ve been asked many times which is better, free weights or machines.  Both have their pros and cons so let’s take a closer look at free weights versus machines.

Free Weights Versus Machines

Free Weights

Pros:
  • Variation in exercises with minimal equipment.

Free weights offer and almost endless variety of exercises.

  • You can train anywhere.

Anyone can buy a few sets of free weights and use them anywhere – no need to join a gym if you don’t want to.

  • Mimics real life movements.

With free weights, you’re free to move however you need which allows you to move the way you would in real life.

  • Forces you to use your smaller stabilizing muscles.

When you use free weights you have to depend on your own body to stabilize you.  This means that you’re getting even more bang for your buck during your workout

Cons:
  • Takes skill.

You need to learn proper technique in order to use free weights effectively.  This means hiring a trainer or at very least reading up about proper form from proper resources.  You can’t necessarily mimic what you see others doing in the gym or on YouTube, you actually need to learn proper lifting skills.

  • Higher risk of injury.

If someone doesn’t know proper technique they can end up really injuring themselves.

  • You need a spotter if you want to train really heavy.

If you’re training heavy with free weights you need a spotter to keep you safe for exercises such as squats, bench press or shoulder press. 

Machines

Pros:
  • Easy to learn.

Because there is a fixed range of motion for each machine you don’t really need anyone to show you how to use them.  Most machines have a picture with instructions on how to use them.  This is not to say that it’s impossible to misuse equipment but if you’re sensible you won’t have a problem using it properly.

  • No spotter required.

If you want to lift heavy but don’t have a spotter a machine will allow you to do this with a much lower chance of injury than if you were to train heavy with free weights.  You still need to be careful and make sure you really have your technique down before you start loading on the weight though.

  • Allows you to isolate muscle groups better.

The machine keeps you stable when you’re performing the exercise so all you have to focus on is the primary muscle group that you’re working.

  • Great option for anyone who’s doing rehab and/or is quite unfit.

If you’re recovering from an injury machines will allow you to work specific muscle groups without aggravating a healing injury.  For those who have very little experience with fitness, machines will teach you how it should feel to work specific muscle groups.  By isolating muscle groups you can build up strength quickly and then be able to progress onto free weights.

Cons
  • Stabilizing muscles get neglected.

There are some benefits to isolating muscle groups but if you continue to ignore your stabilizing muscles you run the risk of joint injury.  When you strengthen your larger muscles without strengthening your stabilizers you can end up creating weakness around the joint.

  • Movement is non-functional for the most part.

Using machines will help make you stronger but the movement pattern doesn’t mimic real life range of motion.  This means that you’ll be stronger but not as functional for your sport or everyday activities.

  • False sense of security can lead to injury.

Because the machine assists you to some extent some people make the mistake of thinking they can pile on way too much weight.  You can still easily injure yourself on a machine if you push too hard too soon.

  • Sometimes inconvenient.

If you rely on machines for your workout you may find yourself doing more waiting than working out during peak times at the gym.  Buying your own machines for a home gym is not an option for many people due to cost and the amount of space they take up.

Machines Or Free Weights?

Both have their pros and cons.  Personally I use both and find that by doing this I help create a good balance of strength in my body and I don’t get bored.  If you’re brand new to fitness and don’t want to hire a trainer start with machines and then work up to using free weights.  If you’ve been going to the gym for years mix it up for variety which is good for both your body and your mind.  Train hard, train smart 😉

How To Get Back To Your Routine

September is here which means a lot of people are trying to re-establish their routines.  This isn’t always easy and can sometimes cause a bit of anxiety.  If you’re feeling a bit anxious you may need a bit of help to get back to your routine.

Tips On How To Get Back To Your Routine

  1. Schedule it!

When you need to get something done add it to your calendar.  When you have a specific date and time for something you’re more likely to actually do it.  If it’s something you think you might forget to do, tie it to another behavior.  For instance, if you want to start going to the gym every morning, pack up your gym gear so that you can hit the gym right after you drop the kids off at school.

  1. Don’t be an all or nothing type of person.

Face it – sometimes life gets in the way of even the best intentions.  If your day gets away from you and you can’t make it to the gym that doesn’t mean you have to completely skip out on your workout.  Instead work in some physical activity.  Do some squats while you’re preparing dinner.  If you’re watching TV make commercial time plank time.  You can even include your kids and see who can hold their plank for the most commercials.  If you’re at work and you know you won’t make it to the gym after work go for a quick walk during your lunch break.  Even just 10 minutes of physical activity will benefit you physically and mentally.

  1. Make a commitment to someone other than yourself.

If your goal is to get back to your workouts tell someone who you don’t want to disappoint.  Tell them that you’re planning on working out 5 days per week and have them hold you accountable.  If you don’t have anyone close to you to tell, join a Facebook group that will keep you accountable.  Humans hate to disappoint so by telling someone about your intentions you’re setting yourself up for better success.

  1. Get comfortable with being realistic.

There are times where situations will not be optimal for your goals.  For instance, if you’re thinking about following a ketogenic diet, don’t decide not to, just because you have plans every Friday to meet your friends for appetizers and drinks.  Following your ketogenic diet 5-6 days per week is still going to be beneficial.  If you want to stick to a plan long term you need to figure out what fits into your life.  You can challenge yourself but you need to be realistic about what you need in your life.

  1. Make sure the changes you’re wanting to make are actually important to you.

Making changes is tough so make sure the changes you want to make are important to you.  When you start a new routine motivation is high because it’s a new challenge and you’re excited.  But, if what you’re working towards isn’t that important to you, when the motivation starts to fade you’ll quit.  Motivation is a funny thing.  It will be there for you one day and then gone the next.  If what you’re working towards is important enough it will reignite your motivation when things get tough.

All Set!

So, there you go!  Five things to help you get back on track!  I know it’s tough but just remember how great you feel when you’re back on track with your goals and remember how awesome the pay-off is going to be.  Post your goal below to get the ball rolling!

Wholey Fit Daily Sweat! Mixed Bag!

Mixed Bag!

Warm-up for 5-10 minutes before you start and cool down and stretch for 5-10 minutes when you’re done.

AMRAP 8 MIN

5 Frog Jumps

10 Push Ups

5 Squat Jumps

10 Thrusters

EMOM 8 MIN

2 Reverse Lunges 1-2

10 Burpees

30 Seconds Each 4 Rounds

Deadbug

Mountain Climbers

Bicycles

Spiderman Planks

Wholey Fit Daily Sweat! Challenge Yourself!

Challenge Yourself!!!

Warm-up for 5-10 minutes before you start and cool down and stretch for 5-10 minutes when you’re done.

Challenge Ladder (repeat as many times as you like)
70 Pulsing Squats
60 Mountain Climbers (1-2)
50 Pulsing Glute Bridges
40 Tricep Dips
30 Plyo Lunges (1-2)
20 Side Lunges (1-2)
10 Dive-bombers OR 1 min. Plank

What To Do When You Feel Insecure About Your Body

I used to be chubby and super bad at sports.  No surprise that kids teased me and school was a miserable experience for me.  Unfortunately I’ve carried a lot of those insecurities into my adult hood but luckily I’ve learned to deal with them better.  I want to share with you some ideas of what to do when you feel insecure about your body.

What To Do When You Feel Insecure About Your Body

  1. Learn to love your body.

Definitely easier said than done but once you figure this one our you’ll be SO much happier.  When you have a negative thought about your body come up with two positive thoughts.  For instance, if you have large legs like me, remind yourself of all the wonderful things your strong, beautiful legs allow you to do.

  1. Keep in mind that everyone feels insecure at times.

You might look at another person and think they have the perfect body but it’s almost guaranteed that that person is insecure about certain areas.  Using my leg example again: I always felt they were too big and masculine but over the years I’ve had countless men and women compliment me on how beautiful they are.  It took a while for me to be able to accept the compliments but eventually I did.

  1. You don’t see yourself as other’s do.

Flaws that you see in yourself are probably only seen by you.  Those areas that you agonize about are not as bad as you think they are.  People tend to over exaggerate the so-called flaws they see on themselves.

  1. Have realistic expectations for your body.

I always wanted to be that tiny, wispy girl who was a size 0.  I wasted SO much time and effort trying to get there and it always ended in tears and frustration.  Finally, one day I got really honest with myself and realized that my body type would never be thin and wispy because I simply do not have the build for that.  At my lowest weight I still didn’t look the way I wanted because I don’t have that body type.  I finally realized I had to stop fighting it and work with my body, not against it.  That’s when I embraced strength training.  My body is the type to put on muscle and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Once I accepted that my relationship with myself got MUCH better.

Love Your Body So You Can Live Your Life

When you hate your body, life can be pretty miserable and you can end up holding yourself back from things if you let your insecurities get the best of you.  I don’t always feel great about my body and I definitely have my ‘I hate my body’ days but now I’m able to deal with it better.  Your body is your body and it’s beautiful so make sure you love it and treat it well.

Benefits Of Listening To Music

I absolutely LOVE music.  If I’m having a bad day and need a pick-me-up listening to my favourite music always works.  Music has the ability to change your mood, take you back to a different time and even lower your blood pressure.  There are many more benefits of listening to music so let’s take a look.

7 Benefits Of Listening To Music

  1. Improves athletic performance.

Studies have shown that exercise can actually improve your athletic performance by reducing the feeling of fatigue and improving motor coordination.  If you’re not feeling like doing your workout, get your favourite playlist and get to it!

  1. Reduces stress and anxiety.

Music has the ability to reduce your stress and/or anxiety by actually reducing cortisol levels.  The next time you’re feeling stressed or anxious try listening to your favourite down-tempo music.  This can be really helpful if you have a stressful commute.

  1. Reduces pain.

They’re not sure of the exact mechanism here but they suspect that music’s impact on the release of dopamine plays a role.  Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy and relaxed.  I know that when I get tattoos it really helps when I’m enjoying the music that they’re playing.

  1. Improves your immune system.

Listening to music causes an increase of immunoglobulin A in your body which is an antibody that helps keep cells healthy.  As mentioned above, music also decreases cortisol and high cortisol levels  can cause a decrease in immune response.

  1. Helps your brain.

A study showed that young children who took music lessons showed different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year than children who didn’t take music lessons.  Music even helps people struggling with memory problems.  A study showed that stroke patients who listened to music daily showed significant improvement in memory and were able to focus better.

  1. Helps you sleep better.

Listening to soothing music before bed helps you sleep better and get a better rest.  Soothing music reduces sympathetic nervous system activity, relaxes your muscles, alleviates anxiety and helps to distract you from thoughts that may be keeping you from falling asleep.

  1. Helps lower blood pressure.

Listening to calming music or music that makes you happy actually helps to lower your blood pressure.

Improve Your Day With Music!

If you’re having a bad day, try putting on your favourite music.  You’ll be surprised how music can take you to a happier place.

Wholey Fit Daily Sweat! 20/30!

20/30

Warm-up for 5-10 minutes before you start and cool down and stretch for 5-10 minutes when you’re done.

 3 Rounds

20 1-Legged Deadlift (10/side)

30 V-Sit with a twist (1-1)

20 Cross-Overs (10/side)

30 1-Legged Glute Bridges (15/side)

20 Side Plank Reach Under (10/side)

45 sec. High Knees (out out in in)

Interesting Benefits of Chia Seeds

I was recently visiting with a girlfriend of mine who’s an avid runner and she mentioned that she uses chia seeds in her morning shake.  I’ve heard of chia seeds before and know they’re good for you but she told me something I wasn’t aware of.  Chia seeds actually help to keep you hydrated!  I decided that I had better look into the benefits of chia seeds!

5 Interesting Benefits of Chia Seeds

  1. Helps with hydration.

Chia seeds absorb 30 times their weight in water!  For you this means that they will help regulate your body fluid levels and retain electrolytes.  Both of these factors will help you to safely get through long workouts even when the heat and humidity are high.

  1. Reduces Inflammation and joint pain.

Chia seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory which means they’ll help reduce inflammation in your body which will help reduce joint pain.

  1. Accelerates post workout recovery.

Two important things needed for post workout recovery are amino acids and antioxidants.  Chia seeds contain both!

  1. Keeps you energized.

Chia seeds are very absorbent.  They expand to up to 10 times their size when soaked in water and form a gel-like substance.  This gel-like substance will actually slow down the rate at which you turn carbohydrates into sugar.  This means that the carbs you eat will be able to fuel your body for longer periods of time and also stabilizes your blood sugar.

  1. Helps with weight loss.

If you’re trying to lose weight you should start adding chia seeds to your diet.  They’re high in fibre and nutritionally dense which means they’ll fill you up and provide you with extra nutients without adding a lot of extra calories.  And, as mentioned above, their absorbent qualities help to regulate blood sugar so you don’t get those spikes and drops which can wreak havoc on your body and appetite.  Some studies have shown that chia seeds also help prevent high cholesterol and high triglycerides.

How To Start Using Chia Seeds Today!

Chia seeds can be used in many different ways.  You can eat them as is or try adding them to a salad, oatmeal, yogurt, cottage cheese.  The possibilities are endless!  Some people like to make a chia seed drink by soaking 1 or 2 tablespoons in water for 5-10 minutes.  The taste is a very mild nutty taste. The texture is very gel-like though so if you’re sensitive to textures you may not like this option.  My friend adds them to her smoothie.

Keep in mind that chia seeds are very high in fibre which means they could cause digestive issues if you’re not used to having a lot of fibre in your diet.  As with anything new, start small to see how your body handles it.