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Metabolic Coaches Corner

Contralateral Vs. Ipsilateral | Metabolic Academy

By | Metabolic Coaches Corner

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Contralateral Vs. Ipsilateral

You’ve probably heard our coaches blurt these words out almost daily, but lets dive into what they really mean for us!

First and foremost, whether you’re doing something ipsilaterally or contralaterally, you’re performing a unilateral exercise either way. The difference comes in which side of your body you are externally loading, the “working side” or the “off-side”.

The “working side” being the side directly involved in the exercise, for example, the front leg in either a forward or reverse lunge. 

When we load contralaterally on either of these movements, there is a greater level of stability required to complete the movement without excessively shifting weight or compensating in any manner. 

When you perform a Reverse Lunge to Overhead Press loaded contralaterally, the working leg is the forward leg, however the dumbbell is loaded on the back leg side.

The positioning of this load will be creating greater rotational and translational forces during the reverse lunge that will cause the body to want to bend, twist, and shift toward that side. Your core stabilizers however are working over time here to ensure that your shoulders stay square and level. 

Because there is greater demand on stability and resisting those additional rotational and translation forces, the loading in contralateral movements is often a bit reduced to account for the extra work having to be done by the core.

When performing an Ipsilateral Reverse Lunge, the loading is on the same side as the working leg, that is, the forward leg, and therefore the weight is more closely positioned over her stable leg than if it were to be in off hand. This results in lesser rotational and translational forces and gives room for a greater relative loading.

Both Ipsilateral and Contralateral exercise should find their way into a balanced training program and are great ways to continue to challenge your body without necessarily needing to increase your loading right away!

Goblet Squat vs. Front Squat

By | Metabolic Coaches Corner

I am not, in general, a huge proponent of having one exercise be deemed “superior” to another. I think almost any movement that can be done safely, and can be “felt” in the targeted muscle fibers, can be effective for that person. 

However, with that said, I do think there are “general” tips and observations that do apply to most of the population, for most movements done out there.

When it comes to squatting mechanics, though admittedly semantical to the naked eye, I have noticed some significant differences between the Kettlebell (KB) Goblet Squat and the Dumbbell (DB)/Barbell Front Squat, particularly in regards to quad recruitment.

While I am no physics expert, I will use some basic terminology to help illustrate what I have observed. In the KB Goblet Squat, the center of mass of the implement is a good 6”-8” from the torso for most individuals. Comparatively, for a DB Front Squat it is maybe 1” away, and for a barbell, even less as it rests ON the deltoids. 

Given heavy enough of a load, this provides you with almost NO choice but to remain relatively upright, as the moment you start pitching forward, the ability to produce the force needed to keep the kettlebell in place (despite your best intentions) becomes insufficient, and the kettlebell falls to the floor. What is considered an acceptable amount of forward lean in a Front Squat or Back Squat, creates a degree of hip hinge that is often not possible with the KB Goblet Squat. 

With a DB Front Squat, since one is able keep the center of mass relatively close to the body, this allows one to obtain more hip flexion, and with it, an increased “stretch” on the glutes. A good stretch means more activation. While I love a good debate and discussion about the place for ROM in strength training, for ME, I FEEL exercises more in muscles that can be stretched and taken through a full ROM. This would be very similar to foot placement on a Split Squat; a narrower stance TYPICALLY stretches the quads more, and the glutes less, making it a more effective movement for quad recruitment.

Am I saying that the Goblet Squat ONLY works the quads, and the Front Squat ONLY works the glutes? Absolutely not. However, what I am saying is that the devil lies in the details of execution, and the center of mass of the implement we are using relative to the movement arm (especially the hip) has a TON to do with where YOU will feel these exercises the most.

@metabolicmatt

Matt Phelps

 

Metabolic Fitness | Suspension Training

By | Metabolic Coaches Corner

Getting STRONG at Home

2020 was a year to be forgotten, for a host of reasons. Dredging up those memories is kind of like looking at your fashion statement in your 8th grade yearbook…some things are better off not remembered. One of the things that I took away from the quarantine we were under for 6 months in 2020, was the power of training with minimal equipment, and how you really CAN get an effective workout at home, with the proper programming and exercise selection.

While at home training is always better than “not training”, there is one key component that needs to be considered: the ability to increase mechanical tension over time, or simply put, the way to make the resistance “heavier” so we can induce adaptation and make those strength gains!

Take the pushup for example, this is a great movement to include in any at home program, because there are a myriad of ways in which we can enhance the mechanical tension. Doing them on your knees? We can bring you to your feet? Doing them on your feet? We can add a band. Using a band? Ok Hercules, we get it, you are strong…have your significant other throw a Sandbag on top!

But what about a bent over row with a Sandbag? If the Sandbag weighs 60 pounds, we are relegated to higher reps if you are a stronger individual, or lower reps if you are not as proficient at the movement, or newer to training. Either way, you are pretty married to one rep range, and unable to alter that mechanical tension to vary the rep range target. Is there a place for this movement? Absolutely, but it needs to be sequenced and programmed in very carefully, and will come with inherent limitations.

This is the very reason why I do not like programming dumbbell movements for at home training.

What if you are a very strong male, and all you have is a pair of 40’s? For bicep curls, this can work, but what about squats? Or Floor Presses?

While I have no doubt you can make a mind muscle connection, this load will not be sufficient to provide enough stimulus to make strength improvements. If the goal of the session with the movement is to provide progressive overload, and serve as an indicator exercise in that phase of training, then we need to make smart choices that ensure there is room for progression and improvement in a given rep range.

So what do you do? I know you don’t have a full set of dumbbells at your disposal, but fear not, all you need is a set of suspension straps, many use the TRX straps, we prefer the Jungle Gym XT straps, at Metabolic.

The wonderful part about suspension training is we can adjust your body and foot placement on almost ANY bi lateral upper or lower body movement to provide enough mechanical tension to make any exercise “harder”. We can also add bands, or even a weight vest to provide another element of difficulty as you progress through your session.

Going back to our “row” example, with the Sandbag row (which, once again, has its place) we are not limited to the “load” (your bodyweight), because we can simply alter the difficulty by walking your feet in a mere 3 inches. This is a game changer, because it allows the principles of progressive overload to be applied to at home training, and legitimize the effectiveness of these workouts.

Suspension training will also open up a ton of exercises for your chest, back, delts, biceps, triceps, core, hamstrings, glutes, and quads that you simply cannot do without them. While you certainly can “replace” them with exercises that work the same muscle groups, these movements will not be as effective in the long run in the “at home” setting. Exercise variety, while not absolutely necessary, is extremely important to many training at home, and suspension trainers can certainly provide that.

Sandbags, bands, kettlebells, and dumbbells all have their place in at home training, there is no mistake about that, but to really progress, and continue to get stronger, these movements need to be placed strategically around a bevy of legitimate bodyweight exercises that can be progressed over time.

Suspension training, much my like haircut in 8th grade, changed the game for me, and I could not imagine ever training without them again!

Managing Muscular Fatigue!

By | Metabolic Coaches Corner

Fatigue is a general term. Are you tired from a lack of sleep? Did you just run 3 miles? Watch a 3-year-old from sun up to sun down? Don’t get me wrong, all of those things are extremely “fatiguing”, but for the sake and purpose of this article, I am going to write in terms of “muscular fatigue,” which is the state your skeletal muscular system is in when it can no longer produce enough force to overcome the imposed demand. In layman’s terms…when you can’t get “one more rep!” 

From years of experience, working with thousands of clients, I can deduce one thing: training needs to be stimulating in order to produce a change. This is the entire concept of “progressive overload”, which is a scientific principle that emphasizes the gradual demand on the skeletal muscular system. This can come from a combination of volume, mechanical tension (load), and intensity (in terms of how close to muscular fatigue one brings a set). These factors are intimately interconnected, and 2 of them come with significant limitations. 

When it comes to mechanical tension, or “load”, unless you are Oleksii Novikov (2020 World’s Strongest Man Winner), you can only go “so heavy” on a set. There is a point where, no matter how hard you try, you will be limited by your genetic capability to produce force in a given moment. Bone structure, neurological efficiency, age, and injury history are all limiting factors here, so while one should always strive to improve performance in terms of “how much” he/she is lifting, there will come a point in time when it is extremely difficult to make marked progress in this department.

 

“Load” is often the sole component of progressive overload that individuals focus on, and hey, guilty as charged! It is FUN to add more weight to an exercise, and empowering to feel the improvement associated with that increase. But it can come at a price. Lift too much, too soon? If you are lucky, you won’t get injured, but aside from that a compromise in form often ensues, which takes tension OFF of the targeted muscle…exactly what we don’t want. Good for the ego? Perhaps for a fleeting moment, but as a 40-year-old dude who has done this for a long time, I can assure you that the lack of progress, and the joint pain that comes with it, will quickly knock that ego right down.

“Volume” implies the total load lifted during the session. Load x Reps x Sets. An increase in volume is often a more pliable tool to use than load, for obvious reasons. Think about it, if you did 8 perfect bodyweight pushups (but barely get the 8th) in your last training session, what would happen if in your next session I had you perform them with a 100-pound plate on your back? Odds are you will be stapled to the ground faster than Sam Darnold on any given Sunday. However, what if I had you rest for :90? I am certain you would be able to do 5 or 6 more. You have now increased your VOLUME during the session, and induced a new stimulus. 

This “eureka” moment often causes trainees to want to do more, and more, and more, but unfortunately, the human body doesn’t work that way. Increasing volume is only as effective as your ability to recover from it, and unless it is done very slowly, and methodically, your joints will most likely feel the increase more than your muscles will. 

Ok, so if increasing mechanical tension has its limitations, and increasing volume is only possible for so long…what on earth is the average person to do in order to keep seeing progress? I have the answer, my friends…increase intensity. Before you get too excited, intensity needs to be handled with extreme caution and care, as with anything potent in nature, its power can be misused, abused, and have negative consequences as well.

At Metabolic, we instruct our coaches to manage intensity through a concept called “Reps In The Tank”, or RIT. When a set ends, if I was to give you $1 Million, would you be able to do another rep with strict form? No? Well, then you have “0” reps in the tank. Let’s look at several situations, where different RIT levels are appropriate. Upon review, this will help so many coaches and trainees alike have better experiences in the gym, which is the ultimate goal.

 

5+ RIT

-Individuals with a good base of strength, but lacking the cardiovascular conditioning to perform another set of exercises within :30. One typically sees this with strong men who are used to performing regular “strength training”, but are new to Metabolic Training (MT). Keeping this client here will allow them to build their endurance, and allow their “conditioning” to catch up to their “strength”. When this happens, they will be able to train with much lower levels of RIT, with limited rest between sets, and maximize the effectiveness of MT.

-Individuals over the age of 70, or those with underlying health conditions. By keeping this many “RIT”, the client will be able to manage heart rate much more effectively and have a safer experience.

-Individuals who are “detrained” and have not seen the gym in years. By keeping them with ample reps in the tank, these individuals can keep their focus on form, improving general fitness levels, and leave the gym feeling empowered, not defeated.

-” Ramping” sets in a circuit-style training session. One will typically see this in strong men and women who have excellent fitness levels. During a typical MT session, they may need 1-2 “ramping” sets to work their way up to a load that will serve as their “working” set for the day. In this instance, we want to stay far away from fatigue.

-Those with an injury history in a certain joint or muscle, and are rehabilitating that area.

-Beginner/Intermediate trainees performing repetitions in the early stages of a “Tabata” style “knockout” workout, where a repeated effort is given with little rest between sets.

3-5 RIT

-Intermediate level trainees who have spent some time building up their fitness level, and are ready for a new challenge. 

-Individuals over the age of 65, who have a good fitness level. It is important to be extremely conscious of form to protect joints, prevent excess muscular trauma, monitor heart rate, and allow for adequate recovery. 

-The set before a “working” set for advanced trainees.

-Advanced trainees performing repetitions in the early stages of a “Tabata” style “knockout” workout, where a repeated effort is given with little rest between sets.

1-2 RIT

-This is the sweet spot for most intermediate and advanced trainees on all working sets.

-Promotes a nice balance of “safety”, intensity, and ability to recover for the next session

-Priority of large compound movements like OHP, Front Squat that have dangerous “endings”

0 RIT

-Ideal for Bodyweight/Band movements with advanced trainees

-Safety must always be a factor

-Loaded Movements that have “safer” endings like Bicep Curls, Lateral Raises

-Should be used sparingly for recoverability purposes

-Most trainees will not hit this point, as this is an extreme level of intensity

As a trainee, it is nice to know “why” your fatigue is being managed a certain way, and as a coach, it is important to understand how to navigate each unique situation that your clients present. I hope that this knowledge gives you power, and through that power, come years of safe, effective training that you enjoy!

 

Build Your Dream Home

By | Metabolic Coaches Corner

Build Your Dream Home

 

The process of getting stronger is very much like constructing a home. Despite the fact that all homes (and all bodies), will have a very unique “final product,” the way they are constructed is relatively similar. 

What is the most important part of any home?

To start, you need a very strong foundation!

This simply comes from being consistent for a period of time in your training routine. Once we have established that foundation, we can then move onto building out the framework of your dream home…your body. 

So if our foundation is “consistency”, then the tools for the job are inevitably going to be the exercises and movement patterns that we focus on, and their derivatives. 

There are 6 foundational movement patterns, each with a critical role in building a strong, balanced, functional, and of course, aesthetic body: pushing, pulling, lunging, squatting, hinging, and carrying. 

Think of these movement patterns like “drilling, sawing, hammering, screwing, measuring, and painting”. While we are building our dream “home”, we will undoubtedly have to repeatedly utilize the tools utilized for those activities again, and again…and again…until we are at the final result. 

For some reason, when it comes to working out, people tend to get “bored” of the mastery of the movement patterns that will optimize muscular strength and hypertrophy, and want to use different “tools” all of the time, when the need for different tools is earned over time and only when absolutely necessary. 

For the vast majority of the population, fancy, advanced tactics are never needed. 

Keeping it real, most of us are given the genetic blueprint for a “raised ranch” not a $5 million mansion.

There is such a thing as having “too many tools” in the toolbox, especially when it comes to training. 

What if you needed to saw some wood for the frame of your home, but you were “bored” of sawing? 

Would you grab a chisel and start trying to break apart the wood that way? 

Or what about if you needed to paint, but the repetitive brush strokes were boring to you? Would you grab a level, dip it in the paint can, and start rubbing it on the wall?

Of course not! These inefficient actions are very similar to the fancy moves that you see on instagram that get you nowhere fast, in real life.

The bottom line is, there are times when you are “sawing”, when you need a mitre saw, or a jog saw, but you are still sawing.

There are many different types of hammers. Many different types of drills.

But the core action remains the same. 

While I can agree that it is important to have variety in training, if you are the type to get easily bored, I would hope that this has caused you to reflect on the fact that to obtain the desired result, we must focus on the foundational movement patterns to get us there. 

It is a little silly to be “tired of lunges” if you are doing reverse lunges, standard lunges, lateral lunges, and seesaw lunges in your program. While the reverse lunge done repeatedly would truly be all so many of you would need, here are four lunge variations to help with boredom, and to use when the time is right. 

Instead of being tired of a movement pattern, or “bored” with it, I encourage you to approach your training with excitement, and embrace these movement patterns as the key to building a healthier, stronger body that you can be proud of. 

The new you knows that in order to build that dream home, we must do what needs to be done, in order to have that final result that you are working so hard to achieve.

The new you will take pride in progression, and will aim to increase the intensity of exercise slowly over time, extracting every last little bit of value that each working set provides.

The new you will never be bored again, for the prospect of building a dream home, and a dream body? Well, that is pretty damn exciting. 

So what are we waiting for? 

Grab a saw and get to work!

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