Low Fat Potato Salad

Potato Salad can be a side dish, but is also great as a high carb snack. We love serving at BBQ buffets!

DSC03233Ingredients:
4-5 large yellow potatoes, chopped into ½ inch cubes
1 cup of chopped green onions

Ingredients for dressing:
1 cup of avocado (use ripe ones)
2 tbsp of minced fresh dill (½ tbsp for dried dill)
juice of one fresh lemon
2 green onions, roughly chopped
pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Wash and chop the potatoes. Boil potatoes for about 20 mins or until tender, drain and put aside into a big bowl.

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2. Make dressing, using a small food processor or blender. Scoop avocado out of it’s shell and combine dressing ingredients with ½ cup of water, process until smooth.

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3. Chop green onions, add onions and avocado dressing to potatoes.

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This recipe serves six, you can add steamed asparagus, peas or fresh corn kernels to it. Goes well with fish or grilled chicken. Serve hot or cold. DSC03240

ENJOY!

Prime Your Plank

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The plank is one of the favourites of bodyweight exercisers, yogis and personal trainers. There are many variations on the plank. Today we introduce a lesser known method of performing and cueing the plank. The RKC method was introduced by Pavel Tsatsouline, the founder of Strong First. It maximizes muscular tension throughout the body to allow more activation than a regular plank. This mechanism of creating peak tension is known as irradiation.

The RKC plank is excellent to learn because it trains coordinated activation of the quads, glutes, abs, back and shoulder girdle. If you are like the average lifter, you sometimes has trouble getting these muscles to work as a team. Mastering the RKC plank could be best thing for your lifting and athletics since watermelon flavoured BCAAS.

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(A) This lifter has her pelvis tilted forward to engage her butt, quads and abs, while protecting her low back.

(B) This lifter has an anterior pelvic tilt and is stuck in lumbar extension.         

While many think of the plank as only an “ab exercise”, it is important to note how valuable the RKC plank position is when it comes to performing the compound lifts. As you can see below the lifter on the right tilts his pelvis, engages his glutes and quads to lockout his hip in his deadlift. On the left, is the all too common sight of lumbar overextension. Ouch. Master the basics of core stabilization with the RKC plank and you avoid funding a chiropractor’s vacation home in Hawaii.

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Hold your RKC planks for 10 seconds and perform 3-5 sets each training session. Set up on your elbows and clench your fists and pull your shoulders and elbows into the ground. Imagine that you are trying to touch your toes to your elbows. Pull your kneecaps up with your quads and clench your butt. To challenge yourself further, bring your elbows closer together and move them out further from you. Make sure you can feel those muscles working.

Now get practicing this and see you all next week. Get out there and leave everyone stronger than you found them.

References:

Anderson, T., Neupert, G., Sansalone, J. (2013). Original strength: Regaining the body you were meant to have. Tim Anderson.

Contreras, B. (2013). Bodyweight strength training anatomy. Human Kinetics.

Neupert, G. (2013). The RKC book of strength and conditioning. Bence Kovács.

Fish Tacos

This is a great recipe for 4. Whether it’s for lunch, a light dinner or a summer BBQ get together.

DSC03207Ingredients:
4-6 filets of white fish (I used Tilapia)
2 tomatoes, diced
1 jalapeño
½ cup red cabbage, thinly chopped
¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced
Tortilla shells
olive oil
lime juice
salt & pepper

Marinade:
2 tbsp canola oil
½ tbsp lime juice
1 clove of garlic minced
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of salt

1. Defrost fish and make marinade, add all ingredients into a medium size bowl and mix well. Spread marinade onto either side of the fish filets.
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2. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan, fry fish for three minutes on each side.

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3. Make the slaw, slice red onion and red cabbage. Chop Jalapeño into small chunks. In a bowl combine all with 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1-2 tbsp of lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.

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4. Assemble slaw and fish on tortilla shell, adding freshly diced tomato. You can add other fresh vegetables to the wrap like peppers, lettuce or green onions.

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ENJOY!

Find Your Squat Variation

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As much as powerlifting and heavy compound lifts are very effective for strength and mass training, not everyone in the gym should be back squatting. In this post I will share some alternatives to back squatting that you can choose and apply based on your goal and training needs.
fsquat2After your 4 minutes of mobility work, warm up with some bodyweight squats, then choose your weapon of leg, core and butt destruction:

1) The Goblet Squat
fsquat3This option is best when leg pump and hypertrophy are the goal. The weight will be submaximal because you are holding the weight in front of your chest. This allows for higher rep sets which emphasises muscle growth, full body conditioning and fat loss. Goblet squats also make a brutal finisher at the end of a full body training session. Perform 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps.

2) The Front Squat
fsquat4The front squat demands more mobility than your average bodybuilder has, but is excellent for working the quads and the abs. It improves posture and will keep a lifter honest about their flexibility. The front squat ensure that lifters master the front rack position which is part of cleans, overhead presses and jerks. To begin do 3 sets of 5-12 reps. Do less reps if you are lifting near your max and more reps if you are emphasizing technique with light weight.

3) The Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
fsquat5Single leg work has become more important as we realize the imbalances created by sport and other recreational pursuits. The The Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat is one of the best for concentrated quad work and core stabilization. If squatting tends to hurt your back, this exercise is a good option to go with to help you to create mobility and strength in your hips and core and to help activate the glute on the back leg. Perform at least 3 sets of 10-15 reps with your bodyweight before adding extra resistance.

4) The Overhead Squat
fsquat6The overhead squat is the ultimate test of shoulder stability and core strength. Lifters who seem otherwise indestructible quiver like over-cooked noodles when attempting this squat with a small amount of weight. Start learning this squat with a dowel and then progress to an empty bar. Ensure your back remains straight or slightly arched and that the dowel remains inline with your ears when viewed from the side. Perform 3-5 sets of 5-8 reps. Focus on quality and correct muscle activation.

There you have four effective squat variations to play around with. Next week at New Edge we bring to you some of the best ways to activate your core create full body tension in the plank. See you in the gym!

References:

Boyle, Michael (2010). Advances in functional training. On Target Publications.

Schuler, L., Cosgrove, A. (2012). The new rules of lifting supercharged: Ten all new muscle building programs for men and women. Penguin.

 

Mini Quiche Breakfast Cups

Here is our very first Nutritional Recipe on the blog. Let’s get started! Mini quiche breakfast cups are easily made and oh so delicious.

quiche1Ingredients
5 eggs
1 cup of plain egg whites
one handful of baby spinach
one handful of arugula
3 slices of zucchini
¼ cup chopped mushrooms
one miniature sweet pepper
small chunk of red onion
¼ cup of parmesan cheese
¼ cup of sheddar cheese
¼ tsp dried rosemary
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp of cut up ham
1 tbsp of cut up prosciutto
1 tbsp of cut up pancetta

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Chop all your ingredients. Prepare your baking pan using a non stick cooking spray (I used an olive oil brand).

quiche2  quiche3

2) In a large bowl combine the eggs, egg whites and pepper, beating it with a fork until well mixed.

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3) Using a ⅓ cup, scoop egg mixture into baking pan. I used a twelve cup pan.

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This recipe is variable, you can interchange ingredients. You can make vegetarian (mushroom, pepper, onion, spinach, zucchini and parmesan), mediterranean (pepper, onion, arugula, zucchini, prosciutto and parmesan), ham & cheddar (add mushroom) or spinach & pancetta (add parmesan).

4) Add ingredients to cups and simply stir until egg and ingredients are well mixed. If you feel like the egg-filling ratio is uneven, just add small amounts of egg whites to the individual cup. Lastly sprinkle cheese on top.

quiche8  quiche9

5) Place tray on middle rack and bake for 20 minutes in the oven, watching it closely for the last five minutes. The cups will rise during baking, let cool down for a few minutes before cutting around the edges and scoop out of pan.

quiche10  quiche11

Great to serve for brunches and awesome as an on the go snack – ENJOY!

Cue Up Your Squat

cuesquatWe’ve all seen those trainers who over-cue their clients to the point that their client freezes and its unable to initiate an exercise. As a coach in the weightroom and on the field, I have found external cues to be most effective for learning movements to execute them at a high level. The body is a system, and therefore requires cues that move it closer to task completion, rather than cues that light up small assisting muscles.

Case in point, few athletes or trainees have the body awareness and mind muscle connection that would allow them to activate their right piriformis muscle to open up their hip while pulling themselves up out of a squat on trainer’s command. Instead, these complicated internal cues seem to lead to nervous system “freeze-up”, in which the athlete has lost focus on the whole movement.

Here are 3 essential external cues to strengthen your squat technique:

1) Screw your feet into the floor

cuesquat1Lifter A screws his feet into the floor, while Lifter B didn’t read the blog and will lose most of his hip force in this position.

These cues apply in the above order once the bar is removed from the rack and the squat stance is set. Feet are screwed into the floor to cue external rotation at the hips when the lifter stands with the bar unracked. This creates a solid foundation for force production. Think of turning each foot to the outside as if turning a screw, without actually moving your feet. This produces a torque that allows force to be transferred through the hips and shoulders to support the barbell evenly.

2) Split the floor apart

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This lifter is opening up his hips by splitting the floor in two with his feet.

Once the lifter begins descending with the bar, the hip abductors are cued by imagining splitting a massive crevice into the floor. As the lifter lowers below parallel and hits which is the sticking point of the squat, they continue to split the floor apart to keep their knees from collapsing inwards.

3) Push the floor away

As the lifter drives up into standing, they imagine pushing the floor away or lifting the ceiling with their head to cue adequate hip extension and abdominal activation. This cue also reminds the lifter to be perfectly vertical and avoid overextension of their body.

cuesquat3

Glutes and core muscles are engaged properly without overextension of the spine.

Give these cues a try on your next squat session and let us know how you do! Next week New Edge Fitness discusses some alternatives to barbell back squats. Ever thought of matching how you squat to your training goal?

References:

John, D. (2013) Intervention: Course corrections for the athlete and trainer. On Target Publications.

New Edge IS BACK

New Edge IS BACK! We’re back and hungry to show you what’s up. We feature challenging and advanced workout videos on our social media 6 days a week. You can also expect a variety of information all week long so be sure to keep coming back.

  • Tuesdays: Tips & Tricks videos on social media
  • Wednesdays: Educational blog posts by a Registered Kinesiologist
  • Fridays: Nutritional Recipe

New Edge Fitness is growing. We’re expanding our family and we want your right there with us!

Four Minute Squat Mobility

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Squats making you feel tighter than your skinny jeans from 2007? A lack of mobility in the hips, ankles, and shoulders can hold you back from getting the most out of you squat routine. To move better, it only makes sense to train difficult areas of squat with similar movements. For better athleticism and strength, perform 1 minute each of these basic exercises to the start of your day or to your warm-up and start feeling like a squatting machine.

Ankles:
Ankle mobility plays a huge part in helping you open up your hips and get proper depth on your squats. Get into a low squat position and grab the tops of the feet with your hands. Free up your ankles by circling around five times each way, while focusing on creating more movement at each ankle.
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Hips:
Kneel on all fours and shift your hips side to side to feel a stretch in the glutes. Reposition the knees just outside of the hips. Flex the hip fully and rock back onto your heels and then lock out the hip and come forward putting your weight onto your hands. Think about opening up the hips and move out the knees out slightly further to make the movement more challenging.
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Shoulders:
Squatting with a bar on your back requires sufficient external rotation and retraction of the shoulder. Without this ability lifters tend to flop forward during the squat, which overtime can irritate their sacroiliac joint and their knees. Train full shoulder movement by grabbing a dowel with a meter wide grip and straight arms. Pull the dowel out in front of you and finish overhead moving only at the shoulders. If your flexibility allows you may also pull the elbows down to lower the dowel behind you head to imitate the position of the bar on the back when squatting.
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Thorax:
This exercise mobilizes the thoracic spine and the helps activate the lats. Kneel in front of a bench with the dowel. Press your elbows into the bench and pull your chest down towards the floor. Lift and lower the dowel while focusing on opening up the upper back and shoulders.
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Choose several of these exercises according to your weaknesses and add them into a morning movement practice or perform them all as a warm-up sequence in before your squatting session. Before long you will feel loose and mobile in and out of the gym. Time to toss those skinny jeans and other restricting leg wear and develop some strong legs.

Next week, New Edge looks at the three types of squatting cues every lifter needs to keep their body strong and injury free, while maximizing their results.

References:
Cressey, E., Hartman, B., Robertson, M. (2009). Assess and correct: Breaking barriers to unlock performance.
Frederick, A., Frederick, C. (2006). Stretch to win: Flexibility for improved speed, power and agility. Human Kinetics.
Wendler, J. (2011). 5/3/1: The simplest and most effective training system to increase raw strength.

Your Strongest Squat

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Squats are one of the most effective whole body strength exercises. Although they are in just about every weight training program, they are rarely done well. With the advent of machine training and generic training programs, few people think of personalizing their technique based on how their body is designed. As a result many learn that squatting causes that nagging knee pain or that tweaked back and may stop squatting altogether.

We are all built differently and will have our own way of completing the squat movement. In this blog post we look at how to find you best squat form based on your body type. Uncovering your personalized squat form has more to do with developing spatial awareness and taking note of how you feel before, during and after your training. Here are the body type classifications that have different form requirements:

1) Equal length legs and torso:
Choose a medium distance stance and a medium to high bar height on your shoulders. The high bar position on the shoulders keeps the torso upright, while medium stance allows proper squat depth to be achieved.
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2) Long legs and short torso:
Lifters of these proportions do well with a high bar position on their back and a wide to medium shoulder-width stance. The short torso allows the bar to be placed higher to keep the torso in a vertical position. A wide to medium stance allows the leg limbed lifter to hinge effectively at the hip without overloading the knees and low back.
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3) Short legs and long torso:
These lifters tend to do better with a lower bar position and a narrow shoulder-width stance. The low bar position shortens the lever arm and reduces excessive loading on the longer spine. A narrower stance requires flawless hip and ankle mobility but puts less strain on the hips and knees overtime than a wider stance.
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For all body types, ensure that feet are either pointing forward or turned out no more than fifteen degrees, regardless of stance width. Even with light weight, make sure to stiffen the midsection to maintain a neutral spine while squatting. Now its time to experiment with these adjustments, note how your squats feel and get closer to you perfect squat! Next week at New Edge Fitness we discuss squat specific mobility work that will allow you to overcome your restriction points to get you squatting better.

References:
Cressey, E. (2008). Maximum strength. Da Capo Press.
Starrett, K., & Cordoza, G. (2015). Becoming a supple leopard: The ultimate guide to resolving pain, preventing injury, and optimizing athletic performance. (2nd Ed.) Las Vegas, NV : Enfield: Victory Belt Pub.

Tsatsouline, P., John, D. (2011) Easy strength -How to get a lot stronger than your competition and dominate your sport. Dragon Door Publications.

Wendler, J. (2011). 5/3/1: The simplest and most effective training system to increase raw strength.