Training For Life

Training for life.  As that most wonderful time of the year (i.e. another birthday) draws close I like to evaluate my goals. With each passing year those goals change a little. I moan and groan about joint pain and slower recovery time that comes with aging, but then I step back and look around and I’m ashamed.   I ashamed that I open my mouth to complain when I think about the Queen Mother of Belgium who began yoga at 85 – by trying her first headstand!   Or the Iron Nun, Sister Madonna Buder.   The 86-year-old nun is a record-breaking Ironman triathlete and star of Nike's "Unlimited Youth" campaign.  These ladies are the real inspiration as birthdays come and go.   

Short term goals are great.  Training for a wedding or a beach vacation are great motivators, but after you reach a few short term goals it’s good to look down the road at the LOOONG term goals.  My new goal for is: Train now, so I can train forever.  I want to be running for years to come, lifting for decades to come and doing yoga for the rest of my life. My regimen may change. My motivation may change.  My body may change, but the desire to move and be best possible version of myself will never change.

OMG Becky – Why Every Day is Glute Day

In decades past - not all that long ago - before Sir Mix-A-Lot, before Crossfit and long before the Kardashians, there was a period dominated by supermodel body ideals when it wasn’t cool to have a big ol butt.  Fortunately, times have changed and society is again embracing the beauty of a healthy backside.  I’m a big believer in NEVER skipping glute workouts for 3 main reasons: 

  1. Gluteus Maximus is the biggest muscle in the body, by volume. When you look at the combined area of the three muscles in the gluteal muscle group, you can transform a good percentage of your body.  By working the biggest muscles you can have the biggest impact on metabolism  — a pound of muscle burns six calories a day at rest and a pound of fat burns about two calories a day.  So, that muscle is three times more metabolically active at rest than fat. Since it’s the biggest muscle in the body it will work the hardest for you even when you’re resting.  Purely for the sake of efficiency I prefer glute focused workouts.  We all have busy lives. If I have a limited amount of time to spend in the gym I want to get the biggest impact out of my workout.  


  2. Glutes are where it ALL comes together, literally and figuratively. When you work the glutes you’re focused on the center of the posterior chain.  Glutes connect the legs, back, and abs and as the body’s largest and most powerful muscle group they play the biggest role in the movement of the body.  Your butt stands you up, sits you down, and moves you around.  If you have to move, you’re using the butt to do it. Strong glutes and hips are the foundation for good functional movement in everything you do, and even more important to maintain as you age. Everything benefits from a glute day.  


  3. It’s HOT!  It’s OK to be a little bit vain about motivation.  You work hard in the gym, and the body confidence that comes with big, beautiful glutes is one of the best and most visible rewards. There’s a reason social media is booming with belfies, but did you know there’s also science behind it?  The University of Texas conducted a study of men’s preference for certain body types and determined that the current obsession with a curvy backside actually has evolutionary, prehistoric influences.  "What's fascinating about this research is that it is yet another scientific illustration of a close fit between a sex-differentiated feature of human morphology—in this case lumbar curvature—and an evolved standard of attractiveness," said the study's co-author David Buss, a UT Austin psychology professor. "This adds to a growing body of evidence that beauty is not entirely arbitrary, or 'in the eyes of the beholder' as many in mainstream social science believed, but rather has a coherent adaptive logic."   Who knew? And the best thing to take away from these study results is that unlike other body parts that have been idealized (and that are often limited by your genetic code), you CAN build a better butt.  A little time in the gym can restore those gluteal muscles from dormant, flat, and flabby.

So the next time you walk into the gym with no clear plan on what you want to work, or even at home if you want to squeeze in a few extra reps, remember it all starts at the bottom.  You can create an entirely effective booty workout using no equipment with some basic movements like lunges, speed skaters, donkey kicks, glute bridges, warrior poses and air squats, even by adding hills or sprints to a running day you can super-activate the glutes.  But if you want to get serious about building a better butt, the ideal booty workout includes some isolated targeting, weights and explosive plyometric movement, so get friendly with the GHD, move fast, lift heavy, rest and repeat.  

"Stretching For Strength"

Did you know that stretching your muscles after you've worked them can actually make you stronger and leaner than if you skip mobility at the end of a workout? Muscles shorten when you activate them in more challenging and heavier lifts and if they stay bunched up, they tend to build less new muscle fiber, and what you do build can appear more bulky, and can keep your body restricted and tight. Trust me, when you're not even 5'2 you want to take advantage of all the muscle lengthening you can get. 

It didn't take long after I became serious about lifting to see that I needed to counteract the thickness I was building in the belly of the muscle with lengthening all the way through the muscle attachments. A weekly yoga practice turned into 2 (or more), and stretching became mandatory at the end of EVERY workout- for the first time in my life my legs looked strong AND LONG. 

When it comes to our workouts most people focus on their strength and intensity. Even in yoga we work toward strong poses. We all want to work hard, work up a sweat and get the most out of the least time in the gym. The balance is making sure we save time to let the body and fascia (connective tissue around every muscle) which gets heated during the hard work, stretch and cool down and reset into (hopefully) a new, more aligned and elongated shape. Often we do a couple of stretches we like, then out the door and headed home before the fascia has cooled. If you jet from the gym without a stretch and then hop in the car you mold into a shortened, seated position instead of a long, lean one.   So spend a little extra time in savasana and enjoy a stress free stretch - you earned it, because "I hate being lean" said nobody EVER. Namaste