Sleep! It's kind of important!

How often do you hear someone say, “I had a great night’s sleep last night!” or “I feel refreshed and energetic!”? Probably not very often. Feeling sluggish seems to be the new normal. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation, it is the new normal: most Americans are sleep-deprived. But not getting enough sleep may be causing more trouble for you than just that pesky drowsy feeling: it could be seriously harming your health.
Why aren’t we sleeping?

Centuries ago, it was common for people to sleep 8 to 9 hours each day. But now, only about 25% of Americans get 8 or more hours of sleep. The reasons we are not sleeping are many. We live in a 24/7 society—practically anything we want to do is available around the clock, from fitness centers to pharmacies to department stores.

We are working long hours, transporting our kids to activities, trying to make time for friends and fitness and entertainment. When the heat is on, the first thing to go is usually sleep. And it’s usually not even a conscious decision to skimp on sleep-we just get in bed a little later most nights, because we are so pressed and pushed.

But even when we get into bed, we aren’t guaranteed sleep. The National Sleep Foundation reports that 60% of Americans have sleep problems. That means more than half of us struggle to sleep. And it is taking its toll.


Dangers of sleep deprivation
“The foundations of good health are good diet, good exercise and good sleep, but two out of three doesn’t get you there,”1
— Dr. Anne Calhoun, neurology professor, University of North Carolina.

 

Eating healthily and getting plenty of exercise are not enough to make up for the danger that sleep deprivation poses to your health. Adults need around 8 hours of sleep each night, although some studies indicate that as little as 7 and one-half hours can be sufficient. Getting less than that can have serious consequences:

Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: If you get less than 6 hours of sleep each night and have disturbed sleep, you have a 48% greater risk of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15% greater risk of developing or dying from a stroke.2 Lack of sleep can cause high blood pressure, blocked arteries, stroke, kidney disease and dementia.
Obesity: Sleep shortage is directly linked to obesity. When you don’t get enough sleep, two powerful hormones that control hunger are disrupted. The result is that you feel hungrier and have fewer sensations of feeling “full.”

But without enough sleep you will also feel more stressed, which encourages the production of the hormone cortisol in your body. This hormone causes you to crave high-carbohydrate foods such as potato chips and brownies, and then deposits those carbs as fat around your belly—the most dangerous place to store fat.

Pre-diabetes is also a risk for those who don’t get enough sleep. Trying to get by on less than 6 hours of sleep per night can cause impaired glucose tolerance.

Compromised immune system: Why is it that two people can be exposed to the same germs, but only one of them gets sick? The reason is the immune system. If your immune system is functioning well, you can ward off many illnesses. But if something happens to compromise your immune response, you will be vulnerable to infections, bacteria, viruses, and even some autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and asthma.
When you do not get enough sleep, your immune system becomes stressed and compromised. You actually have a decrease in white blood cells, and those that remain are less active. The result is that you will get sick more often.

Impaired exercise performance: As if the threat of heart disease, obesity and immune suppression weren’t enough, lack of sleep can negatively impact your fitness efforts. It’s not uncommon for people to struggle to maintain their normal level of workout intensity when they are sleep deprived. You just won’t have the energy to push through. Also, your muscles repair and rebuild while you sleep: if you don’t allow your body this recovery time, you will be at a significant disadvantage during your next workout.
Make time for sleep

The truth is, if you don’t make time now for adequate sleep, you will likely be forced in the future to make time for illness. It may take significant effort to arrange your schedule and priorities to carve out time for more sleep, but the payoff will be increased health, energy and productivity!

Sources:
1 http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2010/12/02/f-sleep-tips.html
2 http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/feb/09/dangers-sleep-deprivation

Control Your Training to Control Your Swing

Too many times I see people at gyms throwing weights around.. getting a good sweat going… but what did they really accomplish?

My clients notice on day 1 with me sometimes we move really slow. I learned a long time ago you can’t go fast if you can’t go slow. Stop and think about that…

That means if you are working on your golf swing and you just keep whacking at the ball how will you ever get better. Slow your swing down. Control the movement of the club at a slow speed and slowly build on that until you can control the club at high speed.

This goes the same in the gym. You want to lift heavier weights, great I want you too as well. But can you take this lighter weight and do the same thing at a slower pace?

Look at this guy. He has way too much weight on the bar to do those bicep curls correctly. He is arching his back, using his legs…

Quick question when did bicep curls become a leg exercise?

This is just an easy example of how people do things wrong in the gym.

By slowing the pace of a movement you can also get a better sense of proprioception.

Proprioception – to take or grasp, is the sense of the relative position of one’s own parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.

All of the best golfers in the world have amazing proprioception. As the swing the club they know where every part of their body should be and the know when it isn’t there.

So focus on things that increase your own awareness when in the gym. Do this for a month then work your way back up while continuing to control your movements. This will help you to truly take your game to the next level!

Check in next week for a workout guaranteed to challenge your control!

5 Pieces of Gym Equipment You Must Use

If you are a golfer and you are locking yourself into machines and not diversifying your workouts you could be doing more damage than good. Machines lock you into place and take away the challenge of stability. When you swing a golf club you are challenging the stability of all the parts of your body to be able to transfer power through the kinetic chain. If you want to improve you golf swing through fitness you need to train the same way. Here are some pieces of equipment and a few exercises with each that can be used to increase strength, power, and/or mobility.

Barbell –
This goes without saying but you have to learn to use one of these to get the best results. Barbells allow you to put a very heavy load on your body which requires a great deal of core activation. The greatest athletes spend a great deal of time using this piece of equipment to become stronger.

Exercises include:
Squat
Barbell Hip Bridge
Deadlift

​Dumbbells –
These go along the same lines as the barbell. These require even more stabilization by your body. You have to stabilize your shoulders even when performing a dumbbell bench press as compared to a barbell bench press. This can also be a great piece of equipment to help prepare your body for using equipment like the barbell.

Exercises include:
Single Arm Bent Over Row
Lateral Raises
Single Arm Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

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​Exercise Bands –
Bands can be a change from the normal. Whereas equipment like dumbbells maintain the amount of resistance against you throughout the range of motion and band becomes more difficult the more it is stretched. Bands can be great for use as a warm up or as a finisher.

Exercises include:
External Rotation
Pallof Press
Lateral Band Walk

​TRX –
Suspension trainers are very popular around the world right now. They have multitude of uses. These can be used to help balance people as they do moves they aren’t used to. It can also be a great way to challenge your core and much more. This can also be a great tool for stretching. A quick search of the internet and you will find many different uses, with new ideas are coming out all the time.

Exercises include-
TRX Row
TRX Lateral Lunges
TRX Mobility

​Physioball –

You will see these at all gyms. It is a big ball full of air. You may see some people just sitting on it. You may even see these behind people’s desks at work, it can be great to help your low back from sitting at a desk all day. These move and change the stability below you during your workout. Using these instead of a normal bench at the gym can be a great way to change up your routine, just make sure you lower the weight you are used to using to make sure you have the balance to handle the weight.

Exercises include:
Leg Curl
Plank
Knee Tuck

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The Core: Your Body’s Transmission

Most people tend to think of their abdominals when you mention the core. So their go to exercises are things like crunches and sit ups. This is a gross underestimate to the uses and capabilities of the core. There are numerous muscles involved when you speak about the core. The core is the abdominal cavity, it is a box that is created from the diaphragm at the top to the pelvic floor at the bottom, the obliques on the sides, and the front by the abdominals and the muscles of the lumbar spine in the back. There are also other muscles like the hip flexors and the latissimus dorsi that have part of their muscle within the box that makes up the core. As you can see thinking of the core in terms of the abdominals is just the tip of the iceberg. In fact the abdominal muscles aren’t really used to bend your body forward like you would do in a crunch, they are more used in bracing to stop motion. The cause of you bending forward is actually gravity and your gluteal muscles and the muscles of your back are what hold you up.

What is the main function of the core? Dr. Stuart McGill states that “The core musculature functions differently than the limb musculature in that core muscles often cocontract, stiffening the torso such that all muscles become synergists.” What does that mean? The core functions to stop movement, mainly of the spine. It also functions to transfer force from the lower limbs to the upper limbs and vice versa, which is of great importance to golfers.

If the core is there to stop movement, then why do we allow our lumbar spine to flex? It basically comes down to a general lack of knowledge in the public arena. When the lumbar spine flexes you are exposing yourself to potential injury of the spinal discs. The idea of the crunch is much better than the sit up, when done correctly. The sit up causes full flexion of the lumbar spine. Whereas the crunch, when done correctly, the spine will not flex, the problem is most people don’t know the correct way to do a crunch. In a proper crunch the thoracic spine will curl up and the core will be held in a steady position through bracing.

Now back to how the core affects your golf game. As mentioned earlier a stable core is important to transfer power from the lower body to the upper body. An unstable core allows for “power leaks”. If your core is stable the power generated from your lower body can move smoothly up to you torso and down through your arms and out to the club. A weak core means some of that power “leaks” out because the core can’t handle the power that is generated. And in some cases a weak core that is trying to take on too much power can end up becoming an injury.

If we make an analogy you body is a vehicle. The glutes are the engine and the core is the transmission. If your transmission goes then the car doesn’t move. It doesn’t matter how much power the engine generates you can’t move without the transmission.

Where do we go from here? Now that there is a lot of research out there about how the core works and how the body uses it, we need to train it in that way. The Plank is a great example of an exercise that when done correctly can elicit the action we desire by the core. Watch this video to see an example of the Pallof Press. It is an exercise that is made to resist rotation of the torso by stabilizing the core.

The Pallof Press is one of many ways to work your core the way it is intended to be used. The greatest thing is it refers right to your golf game.

Give it a shot and let me know in the comments what you think of it.