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Getting Ready for 2020 Ski and Board Season

The leaves have turned and there’s already been a dusting of snow on Colorado’s highest peaks. That means ski and snowboard season is just a few weeks away.

 

Unlike other sports, it’s hard to practice the elements of skiing or snowboarding unless you’re actually on the run at the resort. And, since snow sports can be a bit expensive, most of us only ski or board a few times a year. So, conditioning for it can be problematic.

 

But, you need to get ready to avoid injury and the misery of sore muscles and possibly a few bumps and bruises. If you’re not currently working out, it’s not too late to get started so you can enjoy ski season this year. If you are regularly working out, all you need to do is to add a few tweaks to your program.

 

One of the biggest things is simply endurance. Cardio endurance. If you’re not doing cardio now, just think about how you might be feeling after skiing or boarding all day with that expensive lift ticket. Sure, the lift gets you to the top. But, you have to get to the bottom. Without cardio conditioning, your legs are going to feel like Jell-O, you’ll be tired and those two added together equal an increased risk of accidents.

 

To get your heart and body ready for all day skiing or boarding, your cardio program should include at least three to five days a week of running, the Stairmaster or the elliptical trainer. Workout from 20 to 45 minutes, and one day a week, do it for a complete hour.

 

One of the great things about skiing and boarding is that they use quite a few muscle groups- they’re pretty much full body exercise. However, some muscles are used more than others. Those are the ones you want to concentrate on in your workouts.

 

  • Quadriceps. They’re probably the most used muscle. Quads help hold you in position as you glide down the slope. Simple squats and lunges, with or without weights, are probably the best quad exercises.
  • Hamstrings and Glutes. When going downhill, you hold your body (lower body) in a flexed position, with knees bent. Hamstrings and Glutes help stabilize you. Work these muscles with dead lifts, step-ups and hamstring curls.
  • Inner and Outer Thighs. If you ski, your inner thighs have to work to keep your skis together. You use your outer thighs to stay stable and steer. Work these muscles with side lunges, inner thigh leg lifts, inner thigh squeezes, side step squats and leg lifts.
  • Because you’re keeping your knees bent, your calves have to work to keep you on your skis or board. Do standing calf raises or machine calf raises to strengthen these muscles.
  • Abs and Back. Because you’re in a flexed position, your back and abs have to also work to keep you stable and keep your body in that position. Work these muscles with exercises like back extensions, dumbbell rows, and pain old sit-ups.
  • What happens when you get stuck in powder or you slow down a bit too much to make the turn to get back on the lift? If you’re a skier, that means you have to use your poles to get where you’re going. So, work your biceps and triceps along with the rest of your body.

 

Getting ready for ski and board season is not that hard. And, it pays huge dividends because you’re more able to enjoy the sport and you’re less likely to get injured. If you’re lucky enough to be able to hit the slopes this winter, you’ll have a much better and safer time if you’re prepared.

 

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness

Bryson DeChambeau: Simple Swing, Not so Simple Results

 

Bryson DeChambeau completely changed the way I look at the golf swing.  Growing up watching the swing of Tiger Woods I thought the new athletic swing was the way.  Loading up the swing with a squat and creating massive amounts of power and rotation from the lower-body was emulated by all young golfers.  I was wrong, after watching a young new golfer from sunny California.

 

He wears a throwback Ben Hogan cap, has a fascination with a cult golfing instruction book and majors in physics at Southern Methodist University. Bryson DeChambeau sounds a little quirky, but he’s achieved one of the more rare feats in golf – winning the NCAA and U.S. Amateur titles in the same year. His swing and his clubs may get the credit for getting him there.

 

The swing came about through his coach, Mike Schy, who gave DeChambeau a book called “The Golfing Machine” when he was 15.  The book was written in 1969 by Homer Kelley, a Seattle aircraft mechanic obsessed with the engineering specs of the golf swing. To a physics major, the book spoke DeChambeau’s language and it’s how be built his efficient, steady swing.

 

To break it down: when addressing the ball, DeChambeau has his arms extended and his hands up. The right elbow rises as his club goes back and with his grip, the club mostly rides in his palms, not his fingers. There is very little wrist hinge. And the swing is something he can reproduce again and again.

 

It took a couple of years, with guidance from Schy to come up with the single-plane swing. In the book, it’s called a ‘zero shifting motion.’ Basically, De Chambeau swings his hands and his club on one plane throughout the whole swing, no shifting up or down.

 

While that method keeps his swing consistent, the problem in the beginning was that golf clubs typically vary in length. The solution – a bagful of oversize clubs with each iron and wedge having the same 37 1/2 inch shaft length – about the length of a standard 7-iron. The rationale was to have a similar posture over the ball regardless of what club was in his hand.

 

Single-length shafts and a more simplified swing, have given DeChambeau’s game more repeatable and consistent center face impacts. He simply hits the sweet spot more often, producing better ball speed and accuracy.

 

On the putting green, he uses a method called Vector Putting, which takes into account length of putt, percentage of slope and speed of the green. DeChambeau plays with a torque-balanced putter that keeps his stroke square to the plane. All of the clubs have uniquely weighted heads throughout the set (heavier longer irons, for instance), enabling DeChambeau to create a similar striking force at impact.

 

The 21-year-old will most likely be taking his unique style to the PGA, turning pro next summer.

 

Check out this Youtube video to see DeCambeau’s swing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpuJhMF0ovU

Magnesium, the supplement you probably are not taking

 

There are hundreds of supplements out there and you can go crazy trying to figure out the benefits and drawbacks to each one. Doctors sometimes tell their patients about the benefits of different supplements; for example, COQ10 is a great supplement to help you keep muscle mass if you’re taking statins for cholesterol. Statins will rob your body of the COQ10 you naturally create, so replacing it is a good idea.

 

Magnesium is another supplement- a mineral- that is crucial to keeping your body functioning well. Magnesium helps keep blood pressure normal, bones strong and the heart rhythm steady.

 

Most people should take a magnesium supplement because as a whole, Americans don’t eat enough foods that contain magnesium. Adults who take in less than the recommended amount of magnesium are more likely to have elevated inflammation markers. Inflammation has been associated with major health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and an elevated risk of osteoporosis.

 

Every organ in your body, especially your heart, muscles, and kidneys, uses magnesium. In fact, if you’re experiencing unexplained fatigue or weakness, abnormal heart rhythms or even muscle spasms and eye twitches, low levels of magnesium could be to blame.

 

Magnesium is also an antidote to stress; it’s the most powerful relaxation mineral available and can help improve your sleep. You can think of magnesium as the relaxation mineral. Anything that is tight, irritable, crampy, and stiff  – whether it’s a body part or even your mood- is a sign of magnesium deficiency.

 

So what do you do? Whenever possible, you should try to get your magnesium and other nutrients the natural way- including foods that are good for you in your diet. Kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, pecans, walnuts, rye, tofu, soy beans, brown rice, figs, dates, collard greens, shrimp, avocado, parsley, beans, barley, dandelion greens, and garlic all have higher magnesium content. And, of course, eating whole foods is best. Refined and processed foods often lose vital vitamins and minerals.

  • What to avoid: drinking excessive amounts of soda or caffeine. Also know that certain medications and certain antibiotics can rob your body of magnesium.

 

But, like we said, most Americans can’t get enough magnesium through diet alone. So, talk to your doctor about magnesium supplements. The RDA (the minimum amount needed for adults) for magnesium is about 300 mg a day. Most of us get far less than 200 mg.

 

 

Also- be sure to check the label on your multi-vitamin before buying a separate magnesium supplement. Your multi-vitamin may contain what you need.

 

  • And, last, but not least, another enjoyable way to get magnesium- a hot bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate). Your body actually absorbs the mineral while you soak. You can unwind and relax while doing something good for you.

 

 

Expired Supplements: Throw them out or keep them?

In the midst of doing some spring-cleaning, I found a half-empty economy size bottle of multi-vitamins in the medicine cabinet. According to the label, they expired just a few weeks ago. The question- keep them or throw them out?

 

I really didn’t want to throw them out- it seemed pretty wasteful. So, I did a little research to answer a couple of questions- are expired supplements harmful? And, if not- are they still beneficial?

 

What I found answered both questions, and I decided to keep the vitamins. Let me share the details with you.

 

First, let’s start with the expiration date. The expiration date is the last day (or month) an item will be at its highest level of potency. This is essentially an assurance from the manufacturer that the quality and strength of their product is guaranteed up until the expiration date. That doesn’t mean that the product loses any benefit or becomes harmful the day after it “expires.”

 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require supplements to have expiration dates. But, most manufacturers voluntarily list dates partially because it gives their consumers some piece of mind.

 

Most expiration dates are conservative, whether you’re dealing with supplements or prescription medication. Both start breaking down the day after they’re manufactured, so the fact that the product has “expired” mainly means that its lost strength, and may not have the same affect that it did when it was fresh.

 

Vitamins deteriorate at different rates, so manufacturers often times “beef up” the strength of some vitamins that deteriorate faster, in order to assure that they will be at the listed strength at the time of expiration.

 

One thing you should take a look at is they way you store your vitamins. It can have a big impact on how long your supplements will retain their strength. Be sure to check the label to see what the manufacturer advises on storage. Some folks keep their vitamins in the refrigerator, but you shouldn’t do that unless the instructions say so.

 

Most likely, the manufacturer will suggest that you keep your vitamins in a cool, dry, dark place and in their original containers. Some vitamins come in dark glass bottles or opaque containers to help preserve their potency. You should also store them away from heat and humidity, which makes the medicine cabinet one of the worst places for storage. I’ll be moving my supplements to the hall linen closet and putting them on a high shelf to keep them away from the kids.

If you store them properly, vitamins can last four or five years. And, taking “expired” vitamins is generally safe- they just won’t be as potent. It will take me about two more months to finish off this bottle of multi-vitamins, which means I’ll take the last few around three months after they “expired.” Perfectly safe.

 

Next time, though, I’ll be keeping better track of where I store my supplements so I can be sure to take them everyday. That’s how I ended up with this half empty bottle in the first place.

 

Jason Stone

Performance Coach, Icelandic Fitness, Denver, Colorado

Prioritize Your Fitness

5 Reasons Why You Should Think About Yourself First

 

Of course you want to work out. But, it’s hard to make time, what with work, the family, summer activities – you get the picture. It’s difficult to keep that promise to yourself to do something for yourself. Everyday.

 

There are legitimate excuses – you’re sick, a family emergency, or a huge project with a tight deadline at work. The problem is, if you look around long enough, there are plenty of excuses to keep you from ever working up a sweat. I’m here to tell you that you really need to think about yourself for a change.

 

We all want to look our best and exercise and a good diet are the keys to achieving that goal. But, exercise is important in other ways. It makes you feel better and improves your performance at work and at home. So, all those things you need to do everyday? Exercise can help you get them done.

 

Top 5 reasons to exercise:

  • Exercise increases energy. It improves your muscle strength, increases endurance and helps your lungs and heart work more efficiently. That gives you more energy.
  • Exercise reduces stress. Whether you’re just overwhelmed with a work project, or a family “crisis” (like a two year old’s public meltdown), a quick workout can help relieve stress.
  • Exercise helps you sleep better. Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Just don’t do it close to bedtime.
  • Exercise can put some spice back in your sex life. Ok- increased energy, reduced stress, more sleep. Add to that, a better self-image. That equals more couple time.
  • Exercise improves your mood. Again, reduced stress, increased energy, better sleep and more sex. That would put most folks in a good mood.

 

So, WHY aren’t you exercising? Here’s what my clients tell me:

 

  • No time.
  • No energy.

 

Let’s talk about time. While it’s understandable that each day brings up unforeseen problems or situations, when you make something a priority, you find the time.

 

The energy problem. It stands to reason that sitting at a desk all day, coupled with work and family stress can drag you down. Remember, regular exercise will GIVE you energy. Just push yourself a little to get the ball rolling.

 

 

How to make exercise a priority? Even I struggle with this sometimes. But, I make it a point to fit a daily workout into my lifestyle. I have to say that I always feel better after a few minutes of cardio or weights. Or, even a hike on the weekend.

 

Here are a few things to consider:

 

  • Be realistic and start slow. You’re not going to be able to fit unrealistic goals into your lifestyle. Exercise needs to fit as seamlessly as possible into your life. If you have to adjust everything to fit in a workout, you probably will continue to make excuses why you just can’t do it. So, start out with two to three days a week. Then, add another day, another workout.
  • Put exercise on your calendar. Seriously. Block out the time. Let your family and your co-workers know. It’s harder to ignore if it’s on your calendar.
  • Be prepared. Plan ahead. If you know you’re doing cardio at lunch, be sure to have your workout clothes. If you forget, it’s an easy out, an easy excuse.
  • Get the family involved. There are going to be times, especially for busy parents, that you just can’t do your planned workout. So, be creative. Take the kids and the dog for a walk. Or, go to the park or a local school. While they play in the infield, you can jog around the track.

 

The key is to make that commitment to yourself. You will look better, feel better and, guess what, you’ll be a much better person to be around. Your family and your co-workers will thank you for that.

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness, Denver, CO