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Breaking Plateaus (In your Lifting)

July 31, 2015

We’ve all been there; started off with a great new program and feeling all of these positive changes in our bodies.  Fast forward several months later.  We find ourselves stuck in the same routine in the gym no longer noticing changes.  This isn’t an inherently bad thing; it just means that we are no longer providing a sufficient stimulus to cause our body to keep adapting.  When we talk about a stimulus in exercise, there are a lot of variables that can be changed to affect it.  We can alter the intensity (the amount of work or effort required to complete and exercise), we can alter the volume (the amount of time or number of repetitions required to complete exercise), and we can also alter the load (amount of weight being moved through the exercise).  When a program is designed, all of these factors are taken into account and adjusted accordingly to where your fitness level is at that time.

This is why a program will start out by making great changes in your body and eventually taper off.  Our bodies adapt only as much as needed to perform the necessary demand (i.e. they only adapt enough to perform our set program).  This is when a change in stimulus becomes necessary, and there are many ways to accomplish this.  One thing we can do is increase the amount of weight being moved during each exercise (this falls under load).  Another change we can make is by altering the number of sets and repetitions that we do (this falls under volume).  Changing our rest period (this falls under intensity) by shortening or lengthening it can also influence the impact of the stimulus.

Let’s go over an example of a single day of exercise and how we might change it to break out of this plateau.

Original Program
Exercise Sets X Reps Weight (lbs) Rest Period in Between Sets
Flat Bench 3×10 135 1 min
Incline DB Press 3×10 55’s 1 min
Pec Fly 3×10 125 1 min
Tricep Extension with Rope 3×10 35 1 min
Dips 3×10 Body weight 1 min
New Program
Exercise Sets X Reps Weight (lbs) Rest Period in Between Sets
Flat Bench 3×15 115 20-30 seconds
Incline DB Press 3×15 40’s 20-30 seconds
Pec Fly 3×18 105 20-30 seconds
Tricep Extension with Rope 3×18 25 20-30 seconds
Dips 3×12 Body Weight 20-30 seconds

With the changes addressed above, we lightened the weight (load) on the exercises, increased the reps (volume), and shortened the rest period (intensity).  The new program has moved away from a strength/body building hybrid into a more endurance based workout.  We have successfully altered the stimulus and will now allow an opportunity for our body to change.

When looking at this sample program, remember that changing to a more muscular endurance style of lifting may not be applicable for you.  The take home from all of this is that it is very easy to break out of a plateau, but it must be done safely.  Enjoy breaking out of that plateau, and always consult a fitness professional to make sure you are doing so in a safe and effective manner.


20150402_jay_0014About the Author Jay Corti is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer at the Ridge Athletic Clubs.

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Causes Of & Exercises for Low Back Pain

July 26, 2015

Low back pain and instability wreak havoc among active and inactive people alike, and while there are varying intensities and causes, the discomfort can be debilitating. There is no single factor that links every low back problem to one another but there are a few common themes between them. One of the major contributing factors to low back pain is the muscular system, specifically the musculature surrounding the upper legs, hips, spine, and abdominal regions. Muscle weakness and/or tightness in these regions combined together can place a great deal of stress on the vertebrae of the lumbar (lower) spine, which in turn causes pain. Without personal alignment and muscle testing it is impossible to prescribe a single set of exercises and stretches to solve everyone’s lower back pain. However, there are a few things that everyone should do to rehabilitate and prevent further back pain.

Isometric holds are a great way to train the muscles that surround the lower back and abdominal region. Planks and superman’s are good examples of these exercises. To execute a plank, hold your body in a straight line while propped on your forearms and toes. If this proves too difficult, use your knees instead. People often experience low back pain while doing this exercise because their backs are arched backwards. To fix this, raise the butt up slightly in the air. The superman is a similar exercise but safely works the lower back muscles instead of the abdominal muscles. Simply lay on your stomach with your arms outstretched overhead and your legs straight. Simultaneously lift your legs and arms off the ground and hold them about six inches off the ground.

These two exercises are a great place to start when recovering from a back injury or if you are looking to prevent one. Either way, start small and slow and as always ask a trainer if you are interested in learning more.

The Bare Facts about Barre

June 29, 2015
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The first barre class opened up in London in the 1950’s & now we have our every own Total Barre class at the Ridge.  If you’ve never taken our barre class before, here are a few things you should know.

#1 – When it comes to Total Barre, think quality or quantity. Barre is not about how many reps you can do in a barre1minute or how much weight you can lift. The focus of Total Barre is on precision & proper form. You’ll be doing smaller, slower movements, but you’ll definitely feel it!

#2 – Total barre is ballet-inspired, not ballet. Dance experience isn’t needed to take Total Barre. Heck, you don’t even have to be familiar with the ballet barre to get a great workout. All of the moves performed are explained by the instructor and they are happy to assist if you have any questions.

#3 – You’re going to shake & feel the burn if you are doing it right. When you are barre quote 1doing the moves, you probably won’t feel super graceful & it’s not going to feel simple, even if you are in good cardiovascular shape. When you come to Total Barre, focus on yourself & try to not look around.

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#4 – Dress the part. Grippy toe socks, like the ones that we sell at the front desk,

will keep you from slipping when you’re on the barre. Also, don’t wear short shorts. There are a lot of inversions and open-leg poses, so capris or full leggings are a better choice.

#5 – Total Barre is great cross-training. If you go to the gym on your own, you’re probably doing the things that you are comfortable with. Total Barre focuses on the areas that you’re probably not working & that will make you stronger & less prone to injuries.barre quote 2

We offer Total Barre several times throughout the week. Take a look at our schedule & sign up today! Phone: (406) 586-1737

Fitness Matters – Use Summer to Kickstart Healthy Habits

June 28, 2015

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Nice weather is finally upon us as summer rolls in. The days are getting longer and we are starting to have more free time than other seasons in Montana allow. We can use these long days and great weather to add some healthy changes to our lifestyle. Farmers markets are in full swing with a wide variety of produce. These can be a great family outing to buy produce as well as a good way to try new vegetables you may not have had before. A great summer challenge is to try one new fruit or vegetable per week, allowing yourself to experience new food and find some stuff you love. The longer days also mean more time for outdoor activities at night. This is another great way to get together with friends and family while enjoying exercise. Incorporate a walk at night with family and friends in one of our many parks. You can also get out and go for a bike ride at night and explore parts of town you haven’t been to in awhile. Even lawn games such as horse shoes, cornhole, and bocce ball are a great way to be outside and stay moving while having fun. By incorporating these activities into your day, you can build some great new habits that will allow you to transition back into the gym when the less friendly months come back to Montana.

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About the Author Jay Corti is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer at the Ridge Athletic Clubs.

Summer Exercise Pointers

June 18, 2015

Exercising in beautiful sunny weather can be one of the most enjoyable experiences of the summer. However, with the increased temperatures come inherent dangers and the potential for varying heat injuries. That said, there are some very important things you need to remember while you exercise this summer.

The first and largest consideration of summer exercise is dehydration. Exercising in hot environments robs your body of fluids vital to its function. This happens due to increased levels of perspiration and its evaporation from the skin. The harder you exercise and the hotter it is, the more water your body loses. At the same time, exposing youstay hydratedr body to the sun too much can dehydrate you even further. Dehydration can be a very serious event and should be treated immediately. Some signs that you are dehydrated include: increased thirst, weakness, dizziness, and sluggishness. The fix for this is simple, rest in the shade and sip water. Over time your body will absorb the necessary amount of fluids it needs to return to its normal level. Eating a small snack or granola bar can also aid the recovery process. Another overlooked aspect of exercising during the summer is the time of day in which you exercise. The sun is the warmest between 11:00am and 3:00pm. During this time the risk of dehydration and heat injury are significantly increased. When you can, avoid exercising during this time. However, if you absolutely cannot avoid it make sure you drink plenty of water and take periodic breaks to allow your body to recover.

There are many different types of heat injury ranging from simple dehydration to heat stroke. The effects of each very with the most severe outcome leading to serious brain trauma or death. Heat injuries should not be risked. However, aside from all of this, get out and have fun this summer. Enjoy an evening run or a hike to a mountain lake. Just remember to bring some sunscreen and always drink plenty of fluids.

Logan Gregg, CPT


About the Alogang-largeuthor
Logan Gregg has a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology and is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer at the Ridge Athletic Clubs.

Maintaining Your Fitness this Summer

May 24, 2015

As summer continues to settle into Bozeman the urge to enjoy the nice weather will increase. This will inevitably take away some of the time you spend in the gym going about your workout routine. Some may think this is a bad thing but it can be quite the opposite if you are intentional about it. The outdoors provide one of the best training grounds in the world. The best part about it is that you get to enjoy the sun, mountains, and rolling fields while you’re outside. The possibilities for exercise are endless and many outdoor activities such as hiking and rock climbing provide workouts in themselves. Just like workout in the gym, you should start out slow. Do not try and go for a 20 mile hike your first time out. Scale it back and start small. Hike the “M”, Drinking Horse, or another short hike to ease your body into it. After finding your ability level, then attempt some longer adventures. Even though the outdoors are a great place to exercise, it is still important to come to the gym and exercise in ways that the outdoors cannot provide. Lift some weights, get involved in a class, and on those rainy days do some cardio. However you decide to spend your exercising hours this summer enjoy the beautiful weather and the outdoors. Before long it will be cold again and you will be wishing that you had.

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About the Author
Logan Gregg has a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology and is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer at the Ridge Athletic Clubs.

When is the Right Time to See a Fitness Professional?

April 26, 2015

fitness_matters_april_blog Trying to figure out when to see a Fitness Professional can be a difficult decision to make, but the bottom line is, most people can benefit from a session with a personal trainer. If you are thinking about starting a new physical activity program, there are several things to think about. First off, figure out what your end goals are with this new fitness regimen. Typically people will pick out a target weight they want to achieve (i.e. either lose weight or put on muscle mass); or they have a fitness goal they want to reach (i.e. run a marathon or go on a day hike without getting fatigued). Secondly, you should figure out a realistic estimate on the amount of time you can put into a new program. Think about how many days a week will you work out and how long each day will you work out. After you have answers to these questions, a Fitness Professional can design an exercise program that will help you achieve your goals. If you need help with starting an exercise program or have questions, please contact one of our Fitness Professionals for more information.

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About the Author Jay Corti is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer at the Ridge Athletic Clubs.