ACE CEC Mental / Physical Exercises for Long-term Stress Management
What happens if client is stressed and goes through a hard workout? Their performance decreases, less motivated, less energy, and have a higher potential for injury. How do you as a trainer fix this?
Get the client to leave the gym with more energy and better health! Read below for some notes taken from the ACE Mental / Physical Exercises for Long-term Stress Management.
What happens in the body and where does stress begin? In the mind!
Stress is the response of the body when a threat (or stressor) is encountered, and we feel incapable of dealing with it. We judge a situation, and if it is judged as stressful (based on our senses and memory, what happened last time in a similar situation), the first step happens in the mind – more specifically the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus sends signals to the pituitary gland to release ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone). ACTH then stimulates the adrenal glands to produce hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, and nor epinephrine. Cortisol releases glucose, allowing the body to have more energy to deal with the stressor. It also shuts down organ systems (digestive, reproductive) that are not needed for handling a threat. The other two hormones elevate your heart rate and blood pressure. This all happens within 2 minutes!
There are 3 zones of stress: Calm, Eustress, and Distress. Eustress is the 'sweet spot' where your clients should aim to be.
There are 6 types of stresses:
and 3 zones of stress:
- Eustress (the sweet spot!)
Sympathetic (Fight or Flight)
Surprisingly, a big stressor is when you work out and exercise. Through progressive overload, the body breaks down and is in a catabolic state. Many believe that you're building muscles while lifting weight. In reality, you're building muscles when you're sleeping and adhering to an optimal diet; lifting weights cause muscle breakdown. If you have additional stressors such as your job, bills, kids, relationships, and even traffic on top of exercising too much, it is one big recipe for disaster. You end up with depression, junk food cravings, ineffective thyroid, weight gain, and disrupted hormones, and in some cases even lower back pain (due to over activity of the adrenal glands). To get the best benefit, balance your exercise and work in to balance catabolic effects of exercising.
Parasympathetic (Rest & Digest)
The goal of working in is to:
- Enhances Rest & Digest, Full stomach
- Ensure mouth and tongue stays moist
- Breathing and HR stay stable
- Breath and movement control
- Reduce Stress!
The best way to work in is to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Other examples include walking, tai chi, yoga, deep breathing and meditation, going outside, reducing screen time, family time, smiling and laughing as much as you can, and other mental-physical-emotional exercise (addressed below). Even activities like reading, relaxing on your porch, listening to gentle music, and taking a hot bath helps. Also, don't forget the importance of proper nutrition. Whichever activities will put you into a relaxation state is what you should start introducing to your daily routine.
Determining when exercise causes fight or flight
Here are a couple workout readiness tests from the ACE Video (link below).
1% rule – can we improve anything by at least 1% for the session?
Heart Rate- Get the average heart rate in bed as soon as you wake up, get the average for the week. If heart rate goes above 5bpm from average, body is moving into a distressed over training state. If that's the case, it's time to work in rather than out.
Kneeling Stability Ball Balance. If client can balance for more 30 seconds or more without falling off ball, she's ready to workout. If not, client is fatigued. Note- can also use a lower intensity such as a BOSU. Cue client to keep eyes 1 point on floor, draw belly button in toward spine, touch shoe laces onto shoes for balance, squeeze ball in between knees
Coach 6 lifestyle factors impacting stress
Hydration (body is made up 70% water, have half bodyweight in oz water)
- Body is made of water, not soda or coffee.
- When dehydrated, body sends signal of thirst and hunger at same time. Drink water first if you feel hungry.
- This one is obvious! Eat plenty of vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- Body repairs and heals from stress, sleep is free! 7.5+ hours sleep, 10pm-6am is the optimal time. If your mind is foggy, and your workouts feel too hard, take a look at your sleeping patterns.
- Overexercising, or not enough moving (calm vs distress, find the balance)
- Find the balance, the sweet spot of movement. Overexercising can lead to overtraining, putting the body into distress. Underexercising leads to lethargy, weight gain, and a loss of direction.
- We think about 68,000 thoughts per day, and they are for the most part negative. These consistent negative thoughts (of fear, anxiety, insecurity) lead to stress buildup.
- 25,900 breaths per day, but 90% of them are from the chest
- Breathe from belly, using the diaphragm to breathe and not the chest
Teaching mental-emotional exercise
Connect breathing with movement: this can be used with any exercise. This could be used with tai chi, Check out Paul Chek's Yellow Zone workout for an example. Exhale while moving toward the fetal posittion, inhale moving the opposite.
Coin Drill. This works by engraving the nervous and muscular system together.
Thoughts lead to emotions. Then to perceptions. Then to action. Then to reality.
Thoughts lead to reality.
Take a coin(tails side), the negative thought, such as “I'll never lose weight”
State the negative with the tails side up.
Now, state the positive, functional opposite while turning over the coin.
- Make the statement realistic, OR use the side of the coin “I have the possibility/potential” to have a healthy strong confident body
Teach physical stress-reducing exercise
This 10 second breath strategy can be used before or after workout session. It's optimal to breathe through the belly, and take big breaths to ensure enough oxygen is received by the body. Place one hand on sternum, and one on belly. Optional: Place a drop of peppermint oil in the palm of your hands.
- Breathe in through the belly for a count of 5.
- Breathe out on a count of 5.
Alternate Nostril breathing
Wash your hands.
Place thumb over right nostril, and breathe out and in through left nostril.
Place index finger on left nostril, and breathe out and in through right nostril.
- The science behind this method is that each nostril stimulates the opposite hemisphere of brain. It's also known as a secret meditation (because there is concentration on the breath). Ensure the breaths are not forced.
3-4 steps inhale forwards, 3-4 steps exhale backwards.
- Inhale on the concentric (standing up), Exhale on eccentric (lowering). Ensure HR doesn't elevate and breathing does not dry out. You can shorten the range of motion and perform half squats to make the exercise less intense.
Legs up the wall
This method relaxes the nervous system by returning blood and lymph back to the brain and heart. Ensure the stretch on the hamstrings is not too intense, and take deep belly breaths with legs straight up the wall.
Tighten 2-3 areas of the body with a lot of tension, then relax.
Clench the fist, breath in, then let go and relax while exhaling.
Next, try it with your biceps and hands. Tighten, and release.
Now try it with your shoulders. Shrug and tighten jaw with a lot of tension, and release.
Now that you know how to destress, take a 3 week, 21 day stress challenge. I, ____, commit to apply the following stress/tip exercise to my life: ____ for the next 21 days.
Lessons learned: Rest is important. Practice parasympathetic, rest & digest activites to stay balanced (and even optimize fat loss). Stay optimistic, view your stressors as achievable challenges you can overcome and grow from. Be the best example for your clients, your children, family, and even you.
Tom is a 150lb, 20 year old man. He ages 20 years and has not resistance trained. Tom pays attention to the scale and for a healthy BMI for his height to weight, he should weigh 150lbs. 20 years x .5lb muscle loss per year = 10lb muscle loss. If Tom weighs the same yet has lost 10lbs of muscle, he had to of replenished that weight with bodyfat, which is not a good sign.
With the example above, you can see how easy it is to lose muscle overtime. Fortunately, our man Tom can reverse these effects by starting a resistance training program to boost his metabolic rate, decrease his LDL level, and start burning that fat off.
Note- Sedentary activity is just one part to why adults (& even children) become obese. There are many other things that contribute to obesity - mainly eating at a caloric surplus, a diet that consists mainly of sugar, & imbalanced hormones. Don’t overcomplicate it; replace the bad food with the good & pick up an exercise routine 3-5 days per week.
When it comes to the word 'core' the uninitiated automatically think of 6-pack abs, situps, leg raises, and planks. But wait! There's MORE!
Think about your core like a box.
You have the abdominals and hip flexors in the front, obliques on the side, erector spinae & gluteals in the back, even including the pelvic floor muscles, multifidi, and the hip musculature. It's important that ALL of these muscle group participate in the majority of the movements you do daily whether it be squatting down to pick something up or reaching to get something from a shelf.
So crunches and russian twists aren't the only thing I can do for my core, got it. What else?
Core training requires many types of movement patterns, and it's hard to train all of them in one workout session so it would be best to spread it out over 2-3. Also, it is important to take programming slow, as many beginners have weak, untrained core muscles. For preventing lower back pain, it is important to center your core training program around endurance. Here is a list on how to train the core for all sides.
Supermans, half supermans, and back extensions will train the glutes and erectors dynamically, extending the spine. Squats, deadlifts, and goodmornings are also awesome in training the back (as long as the spine is kept neutral!)
Side bends, cable chops, landmines, and russian twists are the go-to for training the oblique muscles dynamically to laterally rotate and laterally flex the spine. For isometric work, do side planks and HEAVY farmer's walks. You could also do unilateral exercises using only one arm for any exercise (single arm bench press, single arm curl, etc.)
Leg Raises, crunches, and reverse crunches will train the core dynamically, flexing the spine. To train the hip flexors, flex the hip! Knee raises without tilting the pelvis posteriorly will train these, but often they're very tight in individuals so I personally don't include them much when desigining programs. To train it with anti-extension, in other words isometric, you could do planks and ab wheel rollouts.
Those are just a few exercises for each side of the core. A very general, non-individualized way to program this would be performing 3 exercises from the front and 2 exercises from the side on your first workout day, and then 3-5 exercises from the back on your second workout day; 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions (depends on your skill level)
Enjoy! Please visit my profile and email me if you have questions.
Keep in mind, these finishers are supplementary. Your client's exercise program should not revolve around these, these finishers are simply to be used AFTER the workout, especially if the client's goal is fat loss. I will provide the exercise and equipment, how to structure them, and then some examples. Keep in mind these are metabolic, challenging the cardiovascular system so be sure to keep the weight (if any) light.
EXERCISE & EQUIPMENT
A Pyramid would be performing an exercise such as a squat for 10 reps, then a pushup for 1 rep, then a squat for 9 reps, pushup for 2 reps, and continue until you reach 10 pushups. I usually pick any 2 compound movements with the pyramid.
Everybody knows what a superset is - performing 2 exercises back to back. You or the client could perform box jumps for 12-15 times, and then go directly to something like a dumbbell thruster for 12-15 reps. Perform 3-5 supersets, remember to rest after the 2nd exercise!
Regarding timed challenges, the most popular one is putting the client on a rowing machine and get them to row as many meters as they can for 1 whole minute. Rest 2 minutes and try for more meters for another minute. You could also have them perform jumping jacks a minute straight, or if they like core training, have the client do flutter kicks, scissors, or even the plank for 2-5 minutes (advanced clients only).
Intervals are something I like to incorporate on cardio machines like the treadmill or the rower. Have the client perform 5x250meters as fast as they can with 30-60 second rest in between, or put them on the treadmill and have them do sprints on an incline for 10 seconds and rest for 20 seconds (be sure to show them where to put their feet so they don't have to slow the treadmill down everytime.)
The final finisher example is to use complexes. The most popular would be to use dumbbells or barbells. Basically, the weight equipment never leaves the client's grip until they are done with all exercises (minimum 3). Also, ENSURE THE CLIENT KNOWS PROPER FORM. The weight will be the same for all exercises performed, so plan it accordingly. Here are the exercises you can utilize:
An example of one that flows into each other, starting with the barbell at shoulder level:
Front Squat x8-12
Push Press x8-12
Bent Over Row x8-12
This hits the front and back of the legs, all back muscles, and the shoulders.
Play around and get creative with these, the main advice is to be with the client and push them the entire time, that's what they hired you for! Also, ensure it all flows smoothly! Happy lifting!
This post may sound basic, but it is essential to know!
When making your client's workout programs, the number 1 thing you will be utilizing is progressive overload. The simplest definition is this: progressing with a gradual increase of stress upon the body. . We will use the barbell squat as an example throughout this post. Progressive overload is a combination of overload and progression:
Overload: applying increased load on muscle tissue/cardiovascular system beyond which it was normally loaded. There are many ways to do this, the most obvious being adding more weight on an exercise (barbell squat) than from what you did last time. You could ALSO use overload by:
- Form - This is the most important, and it's common sense to train in the correct posture. If a client is barbell squatting 45lb 3x10, and does the next week with 45lb 3x10 but with better form, that can be considered overload. Form is critical to know first.
- Range of motion (doing half squats vs full squats)
- Tempo (Squatting slower vs faster, 2 second eccentric phase vs 5 second eccentric phase)
- Volume (# of reps, # of sets - doing 3x8 the first week then 3x12 the week after)
- Lifting heavier (this plays into intensity in the FITT Principle, increasing 1RM)
- Rest times (3x10 with a 90 second rest, then 3x10 with a 45-60 second rest)
- Bodyweight (This basically means if a client were to be squatting 135 at 150 pounds at 3x10 for 4 weeks, but is losing weight over the 4 weeks - strength/bodyweight)
- Going to/passed failure (We've all heard of dropsets, negatives, post exhaustion)
- Exercise Modification (Grips, Low bar vs high bar squatting, different emphasis on working muscles)
- Frequency (This plays a little into volume, but basically what I mean is doing squats twice a week instead of once)
Some other things to know:
-Form. I cannot stress this enough in this post. If you're squatting 135 for 5 reps with perfect form, then next week you let your ego take control and do 185x3x5 with poor form (half squats), that doesn't really count. If I can curl 50 pounds for a set of 10, then try 75 pounds for a set of 10 but I'm swinging the bar and using momentum to help me, it doesn't count. To really know if you or your client gained strength, you need to do each exercise the exact same way you did it last time.
-Beginners progress rapidly in the first 12-16 weeks, as long as they're staying consistent. -Progressive overload can be random at times. There's been numerous times where my diet is perfect, sleeping patterns are perfect, and my progress is stalling. One time I'd get 3-4 hours of sleep and poor nutrition the prior day, and hit a personal record the next day. It's weird.
-Increased stresses placed on the body must be done gradually. Do not try to jump into things to
fast, there is a risk for injury and overtraining with that.
My question to you is: in which ways have you been utilizing progressive overload for you and your clients? Share in the comments!
Hurry! Stand up!
Sitting down - harmful?
I'm sitting down while writing this. You're probably sitting down reading it. It sounds ridiculous, how can such a natural occurence be detrimental?
After the industrial revolution, human society has continually become centered around sitting down. The past 200 years have slowly transitioned our entire way of life. From the ancient hunter-gatherer duties to the 9-5 desk slave, our behaviors have become much less active. Our transportation is seated, our occupations are seated, and even our leisure time is spent seated. It's second nature, but it's at an all-time high. Nevertheless, numerous studies link sitting to poor health conditions.
Sitting vs Sedentary
An important thing to understand is that 'sitting' and 'sedentary' are one in the same; they both involve inactivity. Sedentary behavior is defined as spending a majority of time seated, stationary, with very little energy expenditure (6). Prolonged sitting is associated with bad health outcomes, and the same can be said for a prolonged sedentary duration (2). This article's purpose is not to be interpreted that sitting is bad for you. However, waking up, driving in a seated position to work, working in a seated position for 8 hours, then going home to sit some more is bad.
What it's doing to your Health
Sitting is like eating, it's harmful if you do too much. Physical inactivity is the 4th leading risk factor for global mortality, and is responsible for 3.2 million deaths per year (4).
What happens when you sit and stop moving?
- Highly increased risk of cardiometabolic disease(s), obesity, and mortality (2,9)
- Muscle activity is signficantly dropped, and will break down if time permits (Muscle tissue increases metabolism, balance/coordination, lowers RHR and BP, reduce depression, boost HDL, and lowers risks of diabetes and osteoporosis, so you don't want to lose it. (10)
- Breakdown of fat/glucose is stalled
- HDL (good cholesterol) drops
- Blood pressure rises
- Insulin effectiveness drops
- High stress on spine in poor seated postures
- Blood pools in lower legs, a cause of varicose veins and blood clots
- Caloric rate drops (leads to obesity)
Your Poor Posture
Sitting in the same position for a long period of time can be taxing on your posture. Oftentimes individuals slouch, rounding their upper and lower back putting their spine in a very unfavorable position. Even if you're physically active, poor posture can and usually does still occur. Hunching over while sitting can develop kyphosis (unnatural curving) of the upper spine, bulging discs, muscle strain, and even a lack of energy. It also reduces the size of the chest cavity, home of the lungs, giving less space to breathe and limiting oxygen.
The solution to avoiding the damaging effects is simple - stand up and move. Your energy will be increased, and the additional calories burned can lead to healthy weight loss (1). People with desk jobs have twice the risk of heart disease than active jobs. If your occupation revolves around being seated for long periods of time (web developers, front desk clerks) or if you're an avid gamer/television watcher, here are some solutions for you
- Take frequent breaks to stand, stretch, and move (Set alarms)
- Increase your non-exercise activity - Park farther away, Cook instead of fast food, take the stairs, clean the house, walk/bike to whereever you need to go
- Stand and walk around during commercial breaks or any downtime
- Take up active hobbies - Weightlifting, Cycling, Rock Climbing, Yoga, Dancing, Juggling, Bowling, Hiking, Martial Arts, Sport Leagues, the list goes on!
- Buy a standing desk or replace your chair with an exercise ball
- Track your steps (fitbit, iphone, and other pedometers)
- Stand while snacking and/or talking on the phone
If you just really cannot stand, at least switch up your sitting posture every so often. Develop the proper seated posture: stop slouching, straighten up your spine, and ensure your butt (primarily tailbone) touches the back of your chair.
Can't I just workout to prevent any problems?
Exercising is an amazing thing to do. In fact, it's one of the best things you can do to further your health. Unfortunately, an hour of exercise cannot make up for an entire day of sedentary behavior and sitting around. In fact, increasing the time spent standing and walking is actually more effective than an hour of exercise (3). Daily 30-60 minutes of exercise is fantastic, but think about the other 23 hours
Like everything in life, sitting should be done in moderation. Sedentary activity is the primary source of negative effects and should be minimized. Modern man has lost touch to their body due to how easy present-day life is. The key is to start itoring yourself and your present sedentary practices, and use your creativity to make them active. The proper mindset is to priortize becoming more active. Get up and use the body you were given, it will thank you for doing what it was meant to do.
Sources and Further Reading