Monthly Archives

April 2018

Active Aging: Tips for Stair Climbing with Painful Knees

By | Interesting Articles

With a few simple exercises and a change in how you climb stairs you can decrease your knee pain.

There are several reasons why people have pain in their knees while climbing stairs. It may be due to weakness in the muscles supporting and acting on the knee, osteoarthritis in the joint or an injury such as a fall on the knee or chondromalacia (painful knee cap, or runner’s knee). Regardless of why you have pain, the following exercises will help.

Sit to stand from a chair

Completing this activity 10 times 3 times per day will improve you knee strength. If this is too painful from chair height, do it from your bed or a chair with a cushion so the knee bend is not as deep. Complete without using your hands, and once you can do from a higher height 10 times easily lower the height of the chair to increase knee bend. When in the full standing position complete full hip extension by squeezing your glutes.

Knee extension in sitting

Seated knee extension reduces the impact on the knee because it is a non-weight bearing activity. Simply kick the lower leg out into full extension 10 times on the right and then the left for 3 sets. Once this is easy, add weight to your ankle to increase the intensity of the exercise.


Step ups

If using a regular sized step 8” high, is too painful to start, try complting step ups on a lower surface such as a book, or curb. Complete 10 times on the right and 10 times on the left for 3 sets. As you become stronger increase the height of the step or add weight in your hands. Remember to complete full hip extension.

How to climb stairs

When going up stairs we tend to place the ball of the foot on the step, lean forward and the knee bends past the toes while your centre of gravity travels forwards outside of your body. As you step up  using this position, this places extra stress on the knee cap which can be painful. This pattern loads the quadriceps, front of the thigh, and when completing this repetitively it causes pain and irritation in the knee.

Try placing the full foot on the step, loading the mid foot to heel and push up thru the heel activating the hamstrings and glutes. This pattern displaces the centre of gravity within the body and utilizes more lower extremity muscles, thus decreasing the load on your quadriceps and knees.

Article Written by Laura Doyle, Registered Physiotherapist BHSc (PT), B.Ed., B. KIN

As a registered physiotherapist, Laura works at McMaster Family Practice. She sees patients while promoting healthy living and aging along acute and chronic health conditions. Laura is a Member of the Momentum community who makes time at lunch to workout. She is passionate about moving every day to maximize function and fitness throughout the lifespan.

Why You Should Learn to Lift Properly

By | Interesting Articles

Strength training isn’t just for Shwarzenegger wannabes. Regular weight training done properly can benefit just about everyone in so many ways, especially when it comes to lifting. We’re talking better sleep, less stress, increased energy and improved heart health. Who wouldn’t benefit from all those things? Our previous post goes over some of the basics of strength training, and now we’re talking specifically about the benefits of lifting properly. Let’s learn to lift!

Register for the Learn to Lift Workshop

  1. Work with a Coach

If you wouldn’t dream of replacing your car’s fan belt without the help of a mechanic, then why should you try to start a weight lifting program without help of a professional Coach? Working with a Coach in the gym will not only allow you to completely understand the necessary technique, but they will also come up with a program that will accomplish all your goals and needs. Jackie’s Learn to Lift Workshop is a great way to get expert advice in a fun and interactive environment.

  1. Nail your form

Often, people jump into weight training thinking they’re capable of lifting much more weight than is safe. The key to weight lifting is not lifting too much at once, but rather lifting a proper amount of weight many times using the right techniques. Lifting can be a very complex movement – and doing it properly can be something that your body isn’t used to. It’s important to start out with very little weight and simply repeating the proper movement until that proper mind to muscle connection is made.

“It took me weeks to finally gain proper form with my deadlift. Even though my mind knew what to do, my body was doing something completely different. My personal trainer made sure that I practiced the motion safely before progressing with weight. Now, months later, I’m actually using proper deadlifting technique in my day to day life! Who knew it was even applicable outside the gym?” – Rebecca K.

3. Ramp up your metabolism

After a few dates with some dumbbells, you’ll notice an increase in resting metabolic rate. You might be surprised by your heart rate while lifting weights! Fast-paced resistance workouts can keep your heart rate up and get your sweat on. If you’re unsure where to start, connect with a Momentum Fitness Coach to get your own metabolic routine that combines strength and cardio. With the right diet, regular lifting may help you lose weight more effectively than cardio alone.

4. Prevent injury

Lifting weights is key to staying injury free. In addition to muscles being stronger, studies show that weight training can lead to stronger ligaments and tendons. This means you’re less prone to tears or other injuries in everyday activities. Not to mention, it also improves bone strength, and, as you get older, strength training can help combat the natural decline in muscle and bone density. So, it’s not just for young folks, either!

Join our Learn to Lift Workshop coming up on June 2nd, 2018 and gain all the benefits of learning to lift properly!


6 Ways To Train Smart Not Hard

By | Interesting Articles

Have you ever heard the saying “You’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders”? Well, you can safely build muscle and get stronger without carrying the weight of the world in the gym. Getting fit isn’t just as simple as hitting the gym a couple times a week. In order to see maximum results, targeting your workout to meet your fitness goals is very important. Whether you want to drop ten pounds, tone your abs, or build some serious muscle mass — when it comes to fitness, the goal is train smarter not harder. To see results, while saving time, follow these top tips to train smarter and not harder.

Mix It Up

You might think that your exercise routine is rock solid, but the truth is, mixing up your gym routine is crucial in order to evenly tone your body, and stay safe while exercising. Doing the same moves day after day can over-develop certain muscles, while not engaging others. Having muscle groups that are uneven in strength can lead to compensation, muscle strain, or injury, so focus on staying well rounded.

If you love lifting weights, try adding some yoga into your workout routine to stay limber. If you love cycling, add some upper body strength training into your schedule. If running is more of your style, sign up for a Cardio Core class to mix things up.

High Intensity Interval Training

HIIT is the best bang for your buck. It gets your heart rate going faster which means burning more calories, and strength training can be worked into it. HIIT is commonly known for being the best way to burn fat, and it reduces your risk for Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease.

High Intensity Interval Training pushes your body hard for short period of time, and repeats the same circuit several times, with a minute break between circuits.

Focus on your Form

We can’t stress enough how important form is when working out. You aren’t getting the most of your workout when you perform your exercises with improper form. It’s important to correctly perform the exercises in order to engage the correct muscles and not injure yourself. By focusing on your form, you’ll get a better workout and meet your goals faster. If you aren’t sure about your form, talk to a Momentum Fitness Coach today. 

Fuel Up

Your nutrition is one of the most important parts of reaching your fitness goals. It’s important to eat well before and after your workouts in order to reap the benefits of your hard work. By eating the right things at the right times, you’ll fuel your body and help to provide yourself with the energy you need before a workout. By eating the right things after a workout, you’ll also help your body repair your muscles and recover. Check out our post, Fueling your Fitness: Pre & Post Workout Nutrients for more details on what to eat, and when.

Drop Sets

Drop sets are performed when you start with a heavier weight and reduce the weight with each set. The reason why drop sets work is that in any given set you are only recruiting a certain amount of muscle fibers. By reducing the weight down and going lighter you recruit different muscle fibers, which should help the muscles achieve growth that couldn’t be achieved by sticking with the same weight.

Daily Fitness Habits

You need to turn your life goals into daily habits. A routine is something you do every day without fail, so that eventually, like brushing your teeth or putting on your seatbelt, you do it without conscious thought. Habits can be tricky to create, but not if you use the Compound Effect. The compound effect is the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices. You’ll find success in the moment to moment decisions that alone, make no visible difference whatsoever. But as you accumulate those habits by starting small and building off of them, the compounding effect is profound.

Get in touch with a Momentum Fitness Coach to get more information on training smart and reaching your fitness goals. 


Strength Training for Beginners

By | Interesting Articles

So you want to get strong, and you have no idea how to start…

You probably feel overwhelmed, and you’re thinking to yourself, “dumbbells, push-ups, squats. These are terms I’ve heard before, but how do I combine them into a workout to get in shape? HELP!”

We’ve got you.

A strong body is a healthy body. And there are lots of ways to make lifting weights more effective

You know you should be strength training regularly, but let’s be honest: starting a whole new way of working out can be daunting. It’s the reason so many people stick to the same old habits. We understand that this stuff can seem intimidating, and if you don’t know how to get started or are looking for more specific instruction, we have you covered.

But enough of that, let’s get into the nitty gritty of how to get started with Strength Training!


How will you be training?

The first thing we need to figure out is what kind of strength training you want to be doing. This will primarily depend on what equipment you have available and what your goals are.  Let’s go over the options:

Body Weight Training

The first option is bodyweight training. With bodyweight training you need minimal equipment (or none at all), and you can train from anywhere.  It doesn’t matter if you’re at home, in a hotel, at a playground, in your office at work,  or traveling around the world, as long as you have enough space to move around, you can get your workout done (and fit it into a busy schedule).

If you’re bodyweight training, grab a pull-up bar or a TRX system.  If you’re just starting out, use an exercise band to help assist you with movements such as pull ups or dips.

However – none of these are necessary, you can easily do bodyweight training without any equipment at all. The challenge to bodyweight exercises is that you will need to consistently modify the exercise’s difficulty in order to ensure you are leveling up and progressing.

Dumbbell Training

Dumbbells are a great way to start out with weighted strength training for a few reasons. First, most gyms will have a good set dumbbells, even if it’s a basic gym in your apartment complex. If you want to train at home, you can get a set of adjustable dumbbells that don’t take up a ton of space.

Second, dumbbells make it easy to add a small amount of weight to a movement, and dumbbell exercises can seem less intimidating than barbell training.  On top of that, starting with a 45 lb barbell might be too much weight at first.  Dumbbells  also have an added stabilization challenge, and point out muscle imbalances pretty easily.

If you can’t finish a rep, it’s much easier to drop a dumbbell than it is to drop a barbell. As a newbie learning the movements, this might be helpful.

The biggest challenge about dumbbells?  You may outgrow whatever set you purchase fairly quickly, and heavy dumbbells can get costly. A gym membership with dumbbells that go up to (or over) 100 lbs should help solve this problem.

Barbell Training

The barbell workout is a personal favorite. If your goal is strength above all else, this is the option that we recommend. Barbells allow you to progress clearly and quickly, allowing you to add small increments of weight each week.

Because a barbell is incredibly stable (using two hands instead of just one with a dumbbell), it’s also much easier to go heavy – especially for lower body movements like the squat and the deadlift. For exercises like the squat or the press, you can use racks to safely load and remove heavy weights.

The biggest challenge to barbell training is that in order to do it at home, you need to have a squat rack, a barbell, a bench, and enough weight in your house or garage (which is not an inexpensive investment when you’re starting out).

If not, you definitely will be needing a gym membership.

Which is best?

So what is the best form of strength training? Realistically, it’s whichever one that you will actually do. Barbell training may be optimal in terms of increasing strength. Likewise, bodyweight training might seem convenient, but if you don’t actually motivate yourself to workout at home, you might need to come up with a plan B – like a workout buddy or personal trainer.

Many times, we will pick the right workout to match our situation. When we’re traveling, we’ll do a ton of bodyweight workouts since we don’t necessarily have a gym and a barbell available. When we’re at the gym, you better believe every morning the first thing we do is get under a barbell and go heavy.

At the end of the day, it’s what ever works best for you. But ultimately, you never want to walk into the gym without a game plan. We want to avoid that wandering “sheep without a shepherd” strategy that doesn’t produce results. We help most of our members overcome that challenge with our individual Workout Programs.

Get started on your program today and start seeing the results!