Alternatives to the squat

If Doing Squats is not for you… Try something new 

Photo by Sven Mieke on Unsplash

For most people, squats are the essential part of leg day. even more so for those who want work on their glutes and build strength in their legs – but as a personal trainer, I have had clients who weren’t fond of squats or couldn’t yet entertain doing them because they have a weak core, weak mobility in their ankles, not yet strong enough, or aren’t comfortable with the movement/ self conscious. Whether you enjoy doing squats or have no interest in learning — I think it is important to see the alternatives to an exercise to aid in variety and to build self confidence in working similar muscle groups. As a trainer, I always stand by the motto “Have a plan A, B, and C” because as a trainer you have to be willing to adapt to your client’s needs and if plan A isn’t in their best interest then to have a Plan B and C to replace A or build up to A would be a better solution than to cancel the workout session – not to mention when you skip an exercise due to the person not being able to manage the movement, you are basically telling your client “you can’t do this” (in turn makes them self conscious and they lose motivation because they feel like a failure). Instead it is better to start with Plan A and if plan A can’t be performed safely with good technique/form then plan B and C should compliment A as either a regression or an exercise that is working as an alternative in order to work the same muscle groups. 

In the same context, if you are someone working out and happen to have a hard time performing squats — then do your research and find an exercise that helps to build your weakness so that you can work up to squats or find an alternative that works the same muscle groups & can be performed confidently. 

In this blog post, I am going to name off a few alternatives (exercises) that can be done in place of squats or that work same or/similar muscle groups as the squat does. Keep in mind that the squat is a compound movement — so it works as a full body exercise but without proper form/technique it can cause injury.  Keep in mind that these exercises I list can also  be used to build the strength needed for a proper squat. 

  1. Lunges 

2. Bulgarian Split Squat

3

3. Deadlifts 


4. Step ups (keep in mind, there are different variation of step ups)


5. Sled Push 


If anyone would like to add to this list, leave comments! There are plenty of other exercises that can be used as alternatives not mentioned, so explore your options, and may LEG DAY be with you! 

If you enjoyed this post and enjoy fitness/health — follow me on social media & this blog!

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Coconut Oil & Health

Good Oil? Healthy Oil?

For the everyday American, oils are usually used in most diets, recipes, and labelled on most food products we see on our shelves. However, the type of oils we include in our diets for a healthier lifestyle pend on what’s available, what we hear from social media/news sources/professionals, what’s financially feasible. and whether we like the taste or not. Unfortunately, when the world speaks of something “trendy” or “hip” we as humans want to take the world up on its offer and assume that if the majority of people are using it, then it has some truth to it – sadly this isn’t always true and in the long term of things, it doesn’t always hold weight to follow a pack (doing your own research does wonders- even in small doses). 

Coconut oil has been and is one of those oils that the world spoke very highly about in replacing the canola and vegetable oils because of it being a healthier alternative to the oils that we know don’t offer any nutritional value. All the while coconut oil does have its benefits, but it also holds risk — and much like anything else. should be used in moderation for good health practices. I for one, will admit that I bought and used coconut oil in the past for a long streak of time — it was something new to try and explore and I wanted to experiment with it & I didn’t at the time do the proper research to know that while it was a healthy alternative –there were things that I needed to know / to take into consideration before entertaining this new fad. Now that I am better educated and more versed on the positives and negatives of this particular oil, I want to share my research with others in order to help individuals make better choices and understand the benefits it has but also make them aware of the risk it might have on our bodies as well.

For starters, coconut oil is mostly made up of saturated fats (which we know of as the “bad” fat) – whereas unsaturated fats are the healthier form of fats found in fish, nuts, seeds, etc. The AHA – American Heart Association made a claim that Americans should consider replacing their saturated fats with more unsaturated fats. Also claiming that those who are at risk of heart disease / cardiovascular disease should consume 6% of saturated fats compared to not at risk individuals who should consume no more than 10% of saturated fats –Harvard Blog

Personally this makes sense to me, considering the fact that unsaturated fats help to reduce bad LDL cholesterol. 

Now the health claims that are made about coconut oil are true as far as benefits go to a certain extent, but the type of coconut oil sold on shelves is NOT the same formulated coconut oil that professionals speak on when stating these claims in ALL cases so we have to be aware that there are different forms of coconut oil in how it is made — making it harder for us consumers to understand what all we are getting when we buy it from our store shelves. Which brings me to my next point – the type of coconut oil sold on shelves usually has what is called “lauric acid” – which is said to have health benefits where it raises HDL cholesterol levels as well as the LDL. Harvard blog

Based on the information I have read from various studies, professional blogs, and articles – coconut oil is neither a superfood nor poison – which means we need to treat coconut oil with the same respect as we do with most of our food products: use it in moderation/sparingly, read the food label of the coconut oil you buy from our supermarkets (look up ingredients you don’t know), be curious and research the product, and try to follow healthy food guidelines when consuming this product. 

Body Composition – BIA

BIA Measurements (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis)

So we are on our last body composition phase now and this time we have something a little more techy  compared to the last 3 body composition measurements. My gym had a handheld version of this technology but now we no longer use it, and use something a little more savvy called “Evolt” — which I will talk about in another post (because I have only used it once & it is a new form of technology for me) 

For those of you who are new to BIA, it measures body composition (typically body fat and body mass) using a weak electric current that flows through the body & the voltage is measured in order to calculate impedance/resistance of the body. The current is effected by the amount of water in the body (including blood, etc)

I personally found that I enjoyed using this method of measurement for my clients for a while because it was non invasive and gave them a sense of where their body fat lies compared to only managing weight — which as a personal trainer, I truly believe that body fat is much more important to look at than to look at only weight. 

However, there are pros and cons of using this mechanism that one should keep in mind when utilizing it. 

a

PROS:

  • Non invasive form of body composition
  • pending the type you buy, it can range in price from cheap to more expensive
  • handheld device available
  • clients are able to be fully clothed —  which for many people makes them happy
  • some gyms carry this device 
  • easy to use 
  • user friendly
  • more perspective about the body (body fat) not just weight
  • quick method
CONS:
  • Body geometry is different in an obese persons & that means water distribution could differ too 
  • It can under predict body fat or over predict 
  • some studies have shown that BIA has high amounts of errors 
  • It is recommended you use BIA over an extended about of time — so basically every 3-6 months instead of short term evaluations for better results. 

If all else fails, use multiple methods or have a professional in the field take your body composition with something more up to date and accurate – with science and technology constantly changing and developing; there are always better methods being invented. 

Body Composition Measurements: Skinfolds

Skinfold measurements

It has been awhile since my last blogging post – sorry about the long pause, I was trying to get a new structure going for my clients at the gym / working on my own scheduling so I wouldn’t be driving back and forth so often/ and working on getting to know the new clients I have taken on, not to mention, my gym had a grand opening and I wanted to be present so I could sell myself to possible new members. With all this being said, I took a break from blogging & haven’t been as present on Instagram either BUT this will all change, I am going to start back at blogging and getting on instagram more often again so I can rebuild myself as a personal trainer and have recent post for my clients at the gym to read. On that note, I am going to continue where I left off talking about body composition measurements. 

Skinfolds, have any of you heard of this before? In college was my first time being introduced to it and learning how to properly measure someones body using calipers. Since then I haven’t used this method in a really long time, and my gym doesn’t use this method — we have something new called “evolt” (high tech machine) and seems like it will be the future for body composition measurements. Anyways, for those of you who don’t know what I mean when I say “skinfold measurements” — it is another way of saying pinching the skin using calipers & basically there are multiple ways of doing this:

1) The 7 site skinfold 

2) The 3 site skinfold 

Men and women have different areas of the body that needed measured during the skinfold measurement. If we are doing the 7 site skinfold — both men and women will need to use the calipers to measure: chest, abdomen, thigh, triceps, axilla, subscapula, suprailliac 

For women the 3 site skinfold sites: Triceps, thigh, suprailliam

For men the 3 site skinfold sites: Chest, thigh, abdomen

Steps to take proper skinfold measurements:

  1. Identify which part of the body you will be taking the measurement. Take ALL measurements on the RIGHT side of the body. 
  2. Grasp the skinfold firmly with the thumb and index finger of the left hand
  3. Hold the calipers perpendicular to the site, place the pads of the calipers approximately 1-4 inches from the thumb and forefinger
  4. Approximately after 1-2 seconds after the trigger has been released, read the dial to the nearest 0.5mm
  5. A minimum of two measurements should be taken at each site with at least 15 seconds between the measurements to allow the fat to return to its normal thickness.
  6. Continue to take measurements until two measurements vary by less than 1 mm
Once finished you will want to do the calculations for fat weight and lean weight. 
Pros/cons?
Of course there are some pros and cons using this method, but for the most part personal trainers learn this method early on because it can be a decently accurate method if done correctly and efficiently. 
I’d say the con that seems to bother people the most is the fact they have to show their body in the first place — especially if they feel self conscious about their physique and/or weight, Most clients will not be a fan of this if they are self conscious / low self esteem/ modest/ or don’t like the feeling of the calipers pinching their skin. While the positive I have seen is, the fact clients then know where the majority of their fat stores inside their body. 
I think the important thing to take away from using this instrument is taking your time and being as precise as possible and being empathetic towards clients whom may not feel comfortable having their fat seen or pinched. Otherwise, I would say it is a great tool due to it being relatively inexpensive, and small enough it can be taken anywhere. 
Leave me comments if you are someone who has used skinfold measurements for yourself or others? 

Measuring Body Composition – Circumference

Circumference Measurement 

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

It has been a few days, but in the last post I discussed BMI — in today’s post we will go over another form of body composition measuring; called circumference. 

When using this term, it means to measure the body’s “girth” using a tape measure. There are many sites that can be measured on the body using a tape measure, but typically you will see the thighs, waist, arms, chest and possibly the hips as well. pending what is important to you at the time, you may decide to measure all of the above or one particular part of the body. 

Measuring girth / circumference can have its advantages and disadvantages; personally I find that it is easy to use and inexpensive and now a days, you can purchase measuring tape specifically for body fat measuring on Amazon, and they aren’t much more than the original. 

Some disadvantages you will run into with using a a tape measure is, pending the type of clothing you are wearing, what you have recently digested, how tightly you hold the tape around you, and the placement of the tape around the specific body part will determine how accurate your number will be & it is highly recommended you have someone else measure you to make sure you get the best results. Keep in mind that knowing your circumference doesn’t mean you will know your body fat % necessarily but it can tell you if you have gained or lost inches, or perhaps it can be used when wanting to fit into something specific — such as knee sleeves ( I would know because I need knee sleeves for a competition in powerlifting and all of the websites recommended I measure my thighs in order to have the best fit). 

Utilizing this type of body composition tool can be helpful for starters but eventually you will want something more accurate depending on how serious you want to be about reaching your goals and how serious you are about wanting to know where your body fat and weight is compared to where it was. Learn this type of body measuring to use as a reference in the future, but again don’t rely on it heavily because it definitely has its disadvantages. 

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