It’s the most magical time of the year, not only because it is the holiday season, but because it’s Harry Potter season!

 

In this extraordinary class, you will be separated into your house and compete against the three other houses with your house members to in various exercises to earn points! Each fitness test provides its own unique challenge, but you if you’re up to the task at hand, you may just be part of the winning house and showered with prizes and pride!

 

Come join as at the closest thing you’ll get to Hogwarts December 19th at 11:30 am at Optimal Fitness. Wands at the ready!

Many Americans suffer from stomach ailments every year, some more serious than others. There are many common issues when it comes to our digestive tracts, but as far as remedies go, it’s important to ensure that you find the right one that works for your needs, not only for your comfort but to ensure that you don’t accidentally inflame the existing problem. Since your gut health is so closely linked to other parts of your body, which can often leave you feeling unable to complete daily tasks or take care of your responsibilities, it’s imperative to find ways to help your body heal and feel better overall.

 

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help things run smoothly. From natural remedies to making sure your diet and exercise routine meet your needs, there are several ways you can keep your digestive tract working well. Do a little research on the best natural remedies, especially if you already take other medicines, and talk to your doctor about how you can make healthy changes. Optimal Fitness invites you to keep reading for some great tips on how to treat common digestive issues.

 

Acid Reflux

 

Acid reflux — also called heartburn — is a common issue for many Americans after they eat certain foods or lie down to go to sleep. There are many things that can cause stomach acid to back up into the esophagus, ranging from the type of food you eat to the time you choose to go to bed, so it’s important to think about what triggers your symptoms. Many people have problems after eating spicy foods, while others find that avoiding starchy items such as potatoes can help. You can also avoid eating or drinking anything for a couple of hours before bed.

 

Learn About Gut Health

 

Your gut does more than break down food; it’s also home to a ton of different types of bacteria and organisms that help the immune system break down toxic compounds and synthesize certain vitamins for your body’s use. When any of these elements experience a breakdown, they can result in issues such as inflammation. To boost your gut health and combat inflammation, try adding probiotics like yogurt, sourdough bread, sauerkraut, and prebiotics like whole grains, apples, garlic and mushrooms.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

 

IBS is a condition many people share, but it can be difficult or embarrassing to talk about. Many people may be suffering from irritable bowel syndrome without a diagnosis, making it even harder to understand how to treat it. Common symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and even nausea. And lots of things can contribute to this condition, from stress levels to diet, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about the best treatment options. In some cases, gallstones can cause IBS, so having a simple surgery to remove the gallbladder is an option.

 

Change Your Diet

 

Your diet can have a major effect on your digestive health, so it may be time to make some changes if you’re having gut issues. Dark, leafy greens, beans, whole grains, and fruit are great places to start when you want to eat healthier, as they provide essential vitamins and fiber. 

Finding treatments and cures for your digestive issues can take some time, so try to be patient as you find what works for you. Talk to your doctor about the best natural ways to feel better, and take a look at your exercise routine to make sure it’s working well for you. If you need to change up your regimen or even start one, connect with Optimal Fitness to create a fitness routine that can help you ward off digestive issues and find overall wellness.

by Cheryl Conklin

 

Image courtesy of Unsplash

 

Are you ready to challenge yourself with your very first 5k? Any time you’re undertaking a new fitness regimen, a little planning, preparation, and arming yourself with the right tech and gear can go a long way toward your success. Optimal Fitness offers the following tips to ensure your journey is a smooth one.

 

Establish a Baseline

 

Athletes need place markers in order to gauge their progress, but as a beginner, this alone can feel foreign. With that in mind, you need to establish some baselines. Start slow, and get a feel for the distance and speed most comfortable for you. Map a route that won’t take you too far from home to start, hit the treadmill, or head to nearby running trails to stretch your legs. Start slow and easy, noting some basic parameters like your speed, distance, and time. 

 

Keeping a running log can help you stay abreast of your regimen, although Verywell Fit points out if you head outside for your runs, it can be tough to monitor progress. For your nature-loving sessions, you might want to add an app to your smartphone designed especially for trail running. There are apps that not only monitor your stats, but they can also help you plan routes, check conditions, and even give you voice alerts when it’s time to make a turn to stay on course.

 

A Health-Conscious Plan

 

No fitness program is complete without a healthy diet. To achieve 5k success, you need to make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals every day. Aside from eating nutritious foods, invest in a high-quality multivitamin to fulfill your nutrition requirements for the day. Your energy levels will improve if you get enough B vitamins, for instance, while vitamin C and other antioxidants will ensure that your body’s cells are protected from free radicals.

 

Tools of the Trade

 

As you move toward race day, tracking your overall progress can be daunting. Scribbling notes on paper is one way to keep track. However, in this era, you have options with more bells and whistles. Some runners make good use of the log method we mentioned, or you can invest in a fitness tracker or smartwatch. If you decide to go with the latter, there are ample options, so think about what features matter most to you. Alternatively, a more affordable option is to invest in a comfortable armband so you can use your phone to track your progress instead. 

 

The Long and Short   

 

When it comes to your actual workout sessions, there are different ways to approach your running program. Many new runners simply start with some stretches, a jog, and a cool down period. Stretching serves the purpose of limbering your muscles. The cool down allows time for the chemistry in your hard-working muscles to slowly disperse, helping to avoid soreness and cramps. This is a good program that can help you avoid injury, so long as you are consistent, take things slowly and gradually increase your duration and intensity.

 

Another way to build your program is to intermingle the kinds of running sessions you do. Runstreet suggests four types of workouts: intervals, tempo runs, and track/speed workouts like Fartleks or strides. While each type of session serves a different purpose, they build on each other toward improving your overall performance. By changing up speed, you work your muscles differently, and in time your stride and oxygen use improve. For your speed work, plan to hit a well-maintained track. If you’re brand new to running, the even terrain can help you avoid injury, especially during fast, short runs. 

 

Cross Train

 

It’s important to keep in mind that cross training is crucial when you start your 5k routine. Cross training helps you move your muscles in different ways, boosts your endurance, reduces the risk of injury and can be implemented on active recovery days. So maybe two days a week you practice yoga, and two other days you attend a strength training or barre class at Optimal Fitness. Over time, you’ll see and feel the difference cross training makes. New personal best, anyone?

 

Aiming for your first 5k is a wonderful thing. Establish your baseline, focus on nutrition, gather the necessary tools, decide how to monitor your progress, and choose the sort of program that is right for you. You’ll be ready to hit the ground running!

 

by Jennifer Scott

 

 

Do me favor and think for a second, would you say that you have a healthier mind or a healthier body? Now this seems like an easy question for most because most of the time we are either hyper critical of our own body and self-image or we tend to be out of tune with our mental psychology. Ofttimes it is much easier to focus on one than the other. We’ll be the first to admit, as trainers, we tend to prioritize our physical health over our mental health. 

 

 

More often than not, people tend to think that fit and healthy people don’t have any self-esteem issues. Being in the fitness world for a long time now, that statement couldn’t be any further from the truth. Not only do a lot of people start working out because of issues they have had with their body in the past, but they are usually their worst critics throughout their fitness journeys. While most people may see lots of muscles or chiseled abs, that person goes home, looks in the mirror and sees their hamstrings are undeveloped compared to their quads or their lifts have gotten weaker because they are eating less because they’re trying to cut. That may seem like nothing to most people and an overreaction, however that is that person’s truth, their hardship. It is a struggle they live with that can wear on that person’s mental fortitude, just like someone who is overweight just starting their fitness journey struggling to lose their first 10 pounds. Each individual’s struggle is their own and deserves to be understood and supported.

 

 

There is no question that this could eat away at a person’s mental health, but the more important question to ask is why.  Why do we not make our mental health a priority? Mental health is a much more intimidating thing for someone to accept than admitting that they may be out of shape. People are always joking around with friends or family in manners such as “I wish I was a fit as you?” Or ” I gotta get back into the gym. I need to lose some weight, I fell off the wagon!” It’s much less scary to admit that we are fat than it is to admit that we aren’t mentally stable. On top of that, it’s much easier to identify faults that are visible to ourselves and others than our mental setbacks that we can’t see.

 

 

While we are no experts in the field of mental health, we find health in general something that we prioritize and find very important. We believe that we all have unsaid things that we are scared to admit or talk about, that we should all try to be open and honest. That form of expression is extraordinary for our mental health, but also identifying struggles we could have to help move forward. The key is finding comfort in our insecurities, being able to turn our weakness into strengths and by accepting our flaws, no one can use them against us. 

 

 

Join us for our first ever Body Image and Fitness Support Group on October 3rd at 1:30 pm to discuss any thoughts in a safe and private space so we can begin to grow find our power together.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

by

If you’re looking to shed weight and boost your health, Optimal Fitness offers these tips to help you stay on track and fight obesity through wellness-focused actions. 

 

Find an enjoyable workout routine. According to Dr. Valter Longo, author of The Longevity Diet, the best exercise is the one you like doing the most. Maybe it’s martial arts, maybe it’s dance — select an exercise that makes you happy and that you can enjoy for years to come. The objective is to do something that works your entire body, causing you to sweat or breathe rapidly. Do this for five to 10 hours a week. 

 

Need help finding a workout? Optimal Fitness offers a variety of classes (in-person and online) as well as personal training to help you meet your health goals. 

 

As a supplement to intense workouts, it’s also ideal to walk for at least 30 minutes a day, and to incorporate a practice like yoga into your regimen. Walking and yoga are particularly beneficial when you have active recovery days in your workout plan. 

 

Another rule you can live by every day is to use your muscles and minimize your reliance on modern day conveniences. Take the stairs, grow your own food and wash your dishes by hand. This will keep you moving!

 

Make it easy to work out at home. If you feel more comfortable working out at home right now, all it takes is to set up a workout space. This can be in your living room, or it can be in a flex space or even in your garage or basement. When choosing a space like your garage or basement, ensure your space is comfortable in the summer and winter. This can mean repairing windows, using a space heater or even having the area insulated. For window repair or insulation services, work with local professionals who can quickly and affordably tackle the job. 

 

Once you have your space determined, look into necessary equipment like weights, a treadmill or elliptical machine, a Swiss ball, exercise bands and floor mats. The goal is not to spend a fortune but to outfit your home gym with practical equipment that can help you reach your goals.

 

Get plenty of rest. Sleep for seven to nine hours each night. Doing so, gives your body the appropriate time to repair itself. Research indicates that only four to five hours can contribute to obesity later. 

 

Eat a balanced diet. There are five main food groups: Whole grains, fruits and vegetables, protein, dairy and fat. The US Department of Agriculture recommends using the healthy dinner plate symbol as a guide for suggested servings, however, in recent years, there’s been widespread criticism about the lack of scientific processes for these guidelines and nutritional policies. Dr. Georgia Ede, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and nutrition consultant says it’s best for everyone to start from scratch when it comes to selecting foods for good health. There’s plenty of information out there, but it’s up to us as individuals to learn risks and benefits of dietary choices (based on data). Ultimately, we have to continue moving forward with an open mind and further research.


While you’re on your quest, keep these truths in mind:

 

  • Despite the debate about what’s best nutritionally, there’s no argument about fruits and veggies. Based on findings from The China Study, those who generally eat a plant-based diet are the healthiest. Aside from protecting you from heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes, fruits and veggies keep you lean. In fact, former President Bill Clinton learned this first-hand. After he implemented recommendations from The China Study in an attempt to address his heart health, he ended up losing 24 pounds due to diet alone. 
  • Whether you go plant-based completely or partially, it’s important to prepare your own nutritious meals, so you know exactly what goes into your food. 
  • Once you eat healthy for a month or more, your food preferences will begin to change. Always strive to eat a colorful meal, as this will maximize your nutrient intake. 

 

Take care of your mental health. When you’re depressed, your risk for chronic illness is higher, which means your overall wellness plummets. While no conclusions have been made as to why this happens, it may be due to habits that are connected with depression like poor diet and lack of physical activity. If you’re feeling down, remember to take this seriously and look for ways to bounce back. 

 

Fighting obesity requires change. However, if you want to make it a long-term commitment, it has to become a lifestyle choice and with that comes desire and intention. If you really want to beat it, do everything in your power to take care of yourself. By doing so, you will improve your overall health and be a positive influence to others. 


Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

 

Based on the facts, more than two out of every three adults in the United States are overweight or obese. With stats this high, it’s clear that something has to shift. 

 

If you’re looking to shed weight and boost your health, Optimal Fitness offers these tips to help you stay on track and fight obesity through wellness-focused actions. 

 

Find an enjoyable workout routine. According to Dr. Valter Longo, author of The Longevity Diet, the best exercise is the one you like doing the most. Maybe it’s martial arts, maybe it’s dance — select an exercise that makes you happy and that you can enjoy for years to come. The objective is to do something that works your entire body, causing you to sweat or breathe rapidly. Do this for five to 10 hours a week. 

 

Need help finding a workout? Optimal Fitness offers a variety of classes (in-person and online) as well as personal training to help you meet your health goals. 

 

As a supplement to intense workouts, it’s also ideal to walk for at least 30 minutes a day, and to incorporate a practice like yoga into your regimen. Walking and yoga are particularly beneficial when you have active recovery days in your workout plan. 

 

Another rule you can live by every day is to use your muscles and minimize your reliance on modern day conveniences. Take the stairs, grow your own food and wash your dishes by hand. This will keep you moving!

 

Make it easy to work out at home. If you feel more comfortable working out at home right now, all it takes is to set up a workout space. This can be in your living room, or it can be in a flex space or even in your garage or basement. When choosing a space like your garage or basement, ensure your space is comfortable in the summer and winter. This can mean repairing windows, using a space heater or even having the area insulated. For window repair or insulation services, work with local professionals who can quickly and affordably tackle the job. 

 

Once you have your space determined, look into necessary equipment like weights, a treadmill or elliptical machine, a Swiss ball, exercise bands and floor mats. The goal is not to spend a fortune but to outfit your home gym with practical equipment that can help you reach your goals.

 

Get plenty of rest. Sleep for seven to nine hours each night. Doing so, gives your body the appropriate time to repair itself. Research indicates that only four to five hours can contribute to obesity later. 

 

Eat a balanced diet. There are five main food groups: Whole grains, fruits and vegetables, protein, dairy and fat. The US Department of Agriculture recommends using the healthy dinner plate symbol as a guide for suggested servings, however, in recent years, there’s been widespread criticism about the lack of scientific processes for these guidelines and nutritional policies. Dr. Georgia Ede, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and nutrition consultant says it’s best for everyone to start from scratch when it comes to selecting foods for good health. There’s plenty of information out there, but it’s up to us as individuals to learn risks and benefits of dietary choices (based on data). Ultimately, we have to continue moving forward with an open mind and further research.


While you’re on your quest, keep these truths in mind:

 

  • Despite the debate about what’s best nutritionally, there’s no argument about fruits and veggies. Based on findings from The China Study, those who generally eat a plant-based diet are the healthiest. Aside from protecting you from heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes, fruits and veggies keep you lean. In fact, former President Bill Clinton learned this first-hand. After he implemented recommendations from The China Study in an attempt to address his heart health, he ended up losing 24 pounds due to diet alone. 
  • Whether you go plant-based completely or partially, it’s important to prepare your own nutritious meals, so you know exactly what goes into your food. 
  • Once you eat healthy for a month or more, your food preferences will begin to change. Always strive to eat a colorful meal, as this will maximize your nutrient intake. 

 

Take care of your mental health. When you’re depressed, your risk for chronic illness is higher, which means your overall wellness plummets. While no conclusions have been made as to why this happens, it may be due to habits that are connected with depression like poor diet and lack of physical activity. If you’re feeling down, remember to take this seriously and look for ways to bounce back. 

 

Fighting obesity requires change. However, if you want to make it a long-term commitment, it has to become a lifestyle choice and with that comes desire and intention. If you really want to beat it, do everything in your power to take care of yourself. By doing so, you will improve your overall health and be a positive influence to others. 

by Cheryl Conklin

 

Photo by Mike Sàez on Unsplash

Any transition in life can be difficult, especially if you want to remove bad habits and adopt positive ones. Whatever kind of transition you’re considering, you can make the most of this time to adopt new habits that can improve your life. Here are some ways you can use a major transition to remove bad habits and embrace positive ones. 

 

Choose a Substitute for Your Bad Habits 

You need a plan ahead of time that will guide you on how to respond when you face boredom and stress, which triggers bad habits. It’s difficult to get rid of bad habits, so you replace them with something else. If you smoke, you must consider something you will always do when the urge to smoke is triggered. Whatever bad habits you’re dealing with, you need a plan for the things you will do instead of the bad habits. 

 

Cut Out Triggers 

If you smoke after drinking, you should avoid going to a bar. Look at things in your environment that encourage you to engage in a bad habit you would like to get rid of. Deal with those triggers and you will make it easier for yourself to get away from the bad habits. Your environment makes your habits easier, so if you want to embrace good habits, create an environment that offers triggers that will lead you to the right things. Change your environment and you will have an easier time changing your habits. 

 

Join Forces With Somebody 

Sometimes, it’s hard to drop bad habits if you don’t have someone to support you. Pair up with someone on the same mission and partner up on exploring new hobbies that will help both of you quit your bad habits. Through your partnership, you can hold each other accountable, and when you win, you can celebrate your victories together. Knowing someone expects you to be better is a motivator that will push you to adopt good habits. 

 

Eliminate Stress and Toxic Relationships

Being stressed can encourage bad habits like smoking, procrastinating, skipping meals, and drinking too much alcohol. Check if there are relationships that are draining your energy and walk away to protect your mental health. If you need assistance, speak with a counselor to know how to approach a stressful patch of your life without triggering other problems. 

 

Make Healthier Choices 

One of the things you should do if you have a major transition in your life is embracing healthy living habits. Opt-out of nutrient-dense foods and eat for your immunity. Choose foods that help your brain release the pleasure chemical, which helps you deal with stress. Also, replace habitual sugary treats with healthy snacks. 

 

Deal With Stress From Work 

Many people suffer work-related stress, so if this is your experience, there are things you can do to improve your situation. If you’re in a job that does not challenge you, you can change your career. Switching your career can offer great mental health benefits. There are online degree programs you can enroll in that help you learn skills while still working full-time. When searching for an online school to enroll in, check to ensure it’s accredited. Also, compare tuition rates to know if your budget is sufficient. Another way to deal with work-related stress is by taking a break to clear your mind. Even a few days can be a healing moment, so check if this is something you can get if you’re employed. 

 

Conclusion 

It’s possible to get out of bad habits if you can learn how to transform your lifestyle. Join people on the same journey as you to get the motivation to move on from bad habits. Also, embrace hobbies that encourage you to engage in things that improve your lifestyle. Start by signing up for Optimal Fitness’ group and one-on-one fitness training.

 

by Jennifer Scott

Image via Pexels

 

Understandably, the pandemic is causing many of us to feel more stressed and anxious than usual. This is especially true for those running businesses as they manage employees during these uncertain times, as ZenBusiness explains here. In fact, the more employees there are to manage, the more stressful the job. 

 

No matter who you are, there are five key things we can do to care for our minds and bodies during these challenging times—even if we can’t unwind and alleviate stress at the gym, yoga studio, or a Sunday brunch with friends. Optimal Fitness offers the following resources for your COVID-19 wellness journey. 

1. Eat Nutritiously

  • Your diet is an important aspect of strengthening your immune system.
  • Perform grocery runs in the safest way possible.
  • Another option is to have food delivered straight to your door.

2. Prioritize Home Fitness

  • Staying home can take the spark out of your workout, but there are ways to maintain your motivation. 
  • The right equipment can help you get more out of your home fitness regimen. Adjustable dumbbells, resistance bands, and even headphones can all boost your home workout!
  • Set up a virtual meeting for online home workouts

3 Try Yoga and/or Pilates

  • There are certain poses that can help relieve stress, including the Chair Pose and the Hand Under Foot Pose.
  • When you are not able to connect with your yoga instructor, you can use apps like Fiit and Gaia to supplement your regimen. 
  • Some Pilates videos can help round out your fitness and wellness plan. 

4. Practice Self-Care

  • There are also some free ways to practice self-care.
  • Men can also benefit from self-care practices
  • Find ways to abolish negative energy from your household, including decluttering and incorporating a few indoor plants to help purify the air.

 

We can’t control much of what’s going on around the world right now, but we can make our health and well-being a top priority during this time of uncertainty. By eating nutritiously, practicing self-care, and staying physically active, we’ll keep our minds and bodies healthy—and we may even develop a new love and appreciation for working out from home. 

Whether one-on-one personal training or group training, the certified personal trainers at Optimal Fitness develop individualized programs for each client. Contact us for more information today! 571.207.8627

by Cheryl Conklin

When it comes to health and mental wellness, most people overlook the importance of sleep. But the truth is that getting enough high-quality sleep every night is vital to our long-term well-being. Since the brain and body undergo essential restorative processes during sleep, sleep deprivation can contribute to a whole mess of physical ailments and mental disorders. Check out the below resources from Optimal Fitness to learn how you can improve your sleep and enjoy better days!

Rethink Your Sleep Environment

Making a few tweaks to your bedroom can help you fall asleep faster and reduce the frequency of night-time waking.

  • Do some redecorating to turn your bedroom into a calming sleep sanctuary.
  • Burn some sage to clear out bad vibes from your bedroom.
  • Your body temperature naturally drops during sleep. If your bedroom gets too warm at night, the heat can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep.
  • If you don’t have air conditioning, try angling a fan towards your bed so it can blow directly on you while you sleep.
  • Sleep in loose pajamas in breathable fabrics so you don’t overheat.
  • Pregnant women and new moms can find stylish options that simplify nighttime feedings to minimize disruptions in your sleep schedule.

Banish Stress From the Bedroom

If stress is keeping you up at night, look for ways to treat stress through healthy daytime habits like exercising and eating nutritious foods.

  • Consider hiring a wellness professional for help with meal planning, mental health treatment, and fitness guidance.
  • Exercise daily to reduce stress hormones, relieve muscle tension, and support your brain health.
  • Optimal Fitness has a variety of classes to help you break a sweat in the name of better health.
  • Eat foods packed with stress-fighting vitamins and minerals.
  • Wind down in the evening with a relaxing yoga routine. Yoga can also help alleviate back pain, joint pain, or muscle stiffness that’s disrupting your sleep.

Try Natural Remedies

If you could use some extra help relieving stress and relaxing for the night, consider trying some natural supplements like magnesium and l-theanine.

  • Research suggests that magnesium supplements can improve sleep quality while also enhancing the treatment of anxiety and depression.
  • L-theanine promotes relaxation by calming the body’s stress response.
  • If you need to treat occasional insomnia, trymelatoninbefore reaching for addictive prescription sleeping pills.
  • Taking steps to improve your sleep is the ultimate act of self-care. When you sleep well, you’ll find it much easier to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, or any other mental concern that you’re experiencing. Try incorporating some of these healthy sleep habits into your routine today!

By Cheryl Conklin

Forget Spring, We prefer year long Cleaning!!

Why do we clean?

Cleans are the most powerful barbell movement we will do. It requires you to derive power from the entire body which requires synergistic recruitment of muscles in both the lower and upper body, as well as posterior or anterior chains. The clean can help improve power in the body that can translate to other movements. It’s also a movement that requires bilateral symmetry due to the nature of the movement. If one side of the body works harder than the other, the bar isn’t gonna get up. The clean is a great movement to master because of the benefits you get either in preparation, building mobility as well as body mechanics and awareness or in the subsequent perks of building strength and power that translates to other movements to burning tons of calories while improving neurological function. We all need cleans!

 

Much different than a squat, the clean won’t look very different from person to person. While they are much more difficult for people with longer levers, each piece of the movement from the pulling to the catch, it should look similar on each person. 

 

Steps

  1. Foot Placement. Start with feet at hip width. (Why? A foot placement that is too wide can take away power from your jump and pull. Too narrow of a stance makes your pull much longer and requires bigger take off which will cause the bar to float higher.)                                                                                  
  2. Bar Grip (wrapped vs unwrapped). An unwrapped grip can help your catch with lighter weight. As the bar gets heavier, you’ll need a stronger grip to be able to catch the bar.                                                       
  3. Straight back and core braced – Like in a deadlift, a straight back is important for preventing breakdowns in the movement. (Why? Without a straight back, you lose engagement in both the glutes and core.)                                                                                                                                                              
  4. Shrug. The shrug commences the upper body portion of the lift and helps generate power from the shoulders. (Why? Without the shoulders and pulling portion you won’t be able to commence to a catch. The shrug helps pull that bar up to progress to the swinging forward of the elbows.)                                    
  5. Straight arms, elbows out and rotate in/forward. The straight arms are gonna help avoid the reverse curl movement. Elbows out helps keep the back straight as well as the arms straight, tightening the triceps to help keep the arms straight. Movement by beginning elbows out will make the upward movement of the bar easier to keep close to the body. Don’t bend at the elbows. The elbows should shoot straight up after the first pull. (Why? Bending the elbows makes the pull much more difficult. It’s easier to catch the bar lower than to pull heavy weight all the way up the body. Because the transition from internal rotation of the shoulder at the beginning of the movement, to an external rotation at the catching portion of the movement, keeping your elbows straight as well as the arms helps maintain an internal rotation of the shoulder throughout the crucial power output phase of the movement.)                      
  6. Hips/Jump – As the clean is a triple extension exercise, you’ll simulate a jump because you want extension in the ankles and the hips to properly generate enough power from the lower body. (Why? The hips are a lot like rubber bands, they generate a lot of power. Try to pop those hips and drive them forward to generate as much power as possible.)                                                                                              
  7. Punch elbows forward. The catch may be one of the most difficult parts of the clean. Elbows must remain high. (Why? Keeping the elbows high helps position the bar properly so that it is resting on your chest and front delt. If you catch the bar with elbows too low, you will catch the bar on your hands and in the wrists which puts unnecessary stress on the wrists. Plus with the elbows being too low, you’ll catch the bar in front of your body instead of stacked on your body which will leave more opportunity for a missed catch. Your body as a whole has more power for stabilization than the wrists and forearms.)

Helpful Hints

Think of swinging your hands and elbows under the bar. The hands will do a full 180 degree rotation around the bar so during the pull to the catch thing about swinging your hands all the way around the bar. This can also help get the elbows up high. 

 

Internal shoulder rotation the beginning and external in the end. 

 

Keep shoulders above the bar

 

Brace the core

 

Your hands DO NOT have to be gripping the bar in the rack position like they would be in the pulling phase.

 

Common Mistakes

On a hang, don’t drop bar to far beneath the knees

(Simple fix, just don’t drop the bar too far. Keep it above the knee)

 

Shoulders dropping with bar can lead to bar traveling further away from the body

(Tighten back and keep bar close to the body)

 

Gripping the bar during the catch and rack. 

(fix by trying to unwrap your thumbs when catching.)

 

Setting up with the bar over the toes.

(If you start over the toes, the bar path becomes rounded instead of straight, slide the hips back and start with the bar over midfoot)

 

Lifting the chest too high

(Keep the back over the bar, lifting the chest too high will lead to a backwards lean. Unlike that you’d do in a deadlift, lifting the chest can take away the power from the lower body and instead engages the lowerback)

 

Assessments

A simple rack position test, just simply place your thumbs on your collar bones and see what position your elbows rest in. Too wide is most likely lat tightness, too low is from shoulder tightness.

 

Sit on the floor with an x mark, sit with a straight back and put your hands across your chest and rotate with either a pvcp pipe or straight object and rotate your torso. The bar should cross across the front of the x of which you’re sitting on.

 

Sit criss-crossed on the floor against the wall. While holding a pipe or light, wide gripped object, see how far you can go back to assess tight lats for the rack position. Grip the bar in both a regular as well as reverse grip.

 

Improving The Rack Position

The rack position can be the trickiest part of not only a clean, but any front loaded bar movements. The rack position is what we see in the photo above, the position in which you put the bar on your front delts and chest. Due to a lack of shoulder mobility, wrist and forearm tightness or lat tightness, the rack position can be a tricky skill to attain. An important que to try to remember is get those elbows up as high as possible. By the time you catch the bar in the rack position you won’t have a full grip on the bar, the way you did in the pulling part of the movement. Here are a few ways to try and improve that tricky rack position.

Partner forced rack position hold. With the bar on the rack start in the rack position. From there, your partner will push your elbows up to force an exaggerated rack position. This will help you not only gain familiarity with the position, but loosen up those lats to get that position more comfortable.

 

Next we’ll need to try to gain some flexibility and range of motion through the wrists. To do this, we’ll start on all fours. Straighten the arms and shift the weight of your body forward moving from your shoulders starting stacked directly above the hands to the bottom of the chest being over the hands. We’ll perform this a few times and from there we’ll progress to your hands beginning sideways. From there we will shift the body weight side to side over the hands. After a few reps, we will finally rotate the palms backwards, fingers facing the knees. In this position, we will push our body weight backwards to bring a stretch to the bottom of the forearms.

 

After we loosen up the wrists we’ll go to another forced rack position. This time you’ll just need a band to wrap around your wrist. From there, face opposite of the band and lift your elbow up in a front rack position and just let the band do its job as it pulls that wrist down as well as bringing that elbow into your rack position.

 

The last thing is just simple front squatting. The front squat is the best way to practice the rack position as the bar holds you into that position throughout the movement. Simply put, squats fix everything

 

Mobility and Stretching

Lats

  • Rotated rack pull. Have the side of your body face the bar. Reach your opposite hand over top of your body to grab the bar. Pull your body away from the bar with your hand braced against the bar.

 

  • Foam roll

 

  • Cat cow. On all fours, round out your upper back and slowly push the chest down out of the rounded back into an arched lower back.

 

  • Down Dog. Start in a pushup position and with a straight back, push your butt straight back, while keeping the arms and legs straight. (To intensify the stretch, drive your chest towards your legs)

 

  • Elbows up stretch. Find a wall or bar and reach your elbow up vertically towards the ceiling and press your tricep against the wall. Press your weight into the arm or step forward past the arm.

Shoulders

  • Prone pipe Y raise. In a prone position on the floor with a straight object and arms extended, raise your arms up straight above you. Try to get the object above your head and shoulders. 

 

  • Hand on wall stretch. Find a wall and hinge at the hips. Straighten your arms out and brace the wall with your hands. From there sink your chest to the floor while maintaining your hand position.

 

  • Band on bottom of rack each behind your head as if you were going to perform a tricep extension laterally, but allow to band to pull your hand to stretch the shoulder and triceps as well as the lat.

 

  • With a pipe or strap, grab the object from the top behind the head and from the bottom below the waist with the bottom hand.

 

Hips

  • Squat to stand with hands on feet or ankles. Squat down and wrap your hands around your ankles or hold your hands above your feet. From there extend the knees and lift the butt.

 

  • In a deep squat, press your elbows out against your inner thigh.

 

  • 90 degree hip rotation and presses. In a seated position, put both legs at 90 degrees, rotate your torso to face the front leg, press onto your knees through your hips. Rotate your legs so the opposite knee is facing forward and repeat.

 

Thoracic

  • Start kneeling with your elbows on box or bench and curl pipe behind the head

 

  • In childs pose, forearms straight out in front of you on a foam roller and sink chest towards the ground.

 

  • In a seated position with a bar on your back, straight back and rotate.

Closing

Always remember that the clean is a very violent and aggressive movement. If you don’t attack it as such, it will fight back!