Functional Strength Test: 3 Strategies to improve your weakest link

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The functional strength test has an uncanny way of revealing your weakest link. Though for some people weak links may be quick fixes, for others exercises like pull-ups might reveal a need for much more focused attention. No matter which, these three programming strategies when applied with consistency will lead you down the path towards success:

  1. Focus on form: The first of the three strategies involves making sure that your form is as perfect as possible before moving onto any other practice. Make sure you have a KORE trainer check the form of your weakest link and make suggestions on how to fix certain “less than perfect” areas. If you have form issues and start to practice heavily to improve your weak link, you will quickly find yourself in one of two places: Injured or jogging in place. Improving your form, while often this effort will cause you to have to step back or increase modifications will be the MOST necessary aspect of improving your weak link.
  2. Increase your volume: If you can do the exercise but find yourself having to take breaks during an exercise, losing form, or all out reaching failure, often times training volumes significantly higher than the reps you need to complete during the test will help eliminate the issue. The key with training volume is to first see how many reps you can do with good form. After you know your number, take 2-3 reps away from that number and throughout your workout or your day, do as many sets as you can of that number, 10 sets would be a good number to shoot for. Make sure you are recovered enough after each set that you can perform each set with good form. After doing this every other day for 1-2 weeks, re-test your max reps with good form and repeat. You should start to see that your numbers will increase on a weekly basis. If you find yourself stuck at a certain point with increasing volume, train negatives for 3-4 weeks then come back to your volume training.
  3. Train negatives: If the exercise you are looking to improve is absolutely out of the question unless you modify it, then doing negative will be a great strategy to apply to slowly build the strength you need to do the lift unassisted. A negative is to get yourself in a position where you are doing the exercise in reverse only at as slow of a pace as necessary. For example, with a push up, you would start at the top of the push up position with arms straight and SLOWLY lower yourself chest down to the ground with perfect form taking 10-15 seconds minimum. Don’t worry about how you get back to straight arms position, put your knees down, roll to sitting position, whatever works to get yourself back up. Start with 1 or 2 neg repetitions every other day and increase by 1 repetition per week until you’re doing 8-10 negative repetitions with perfect form. When you reach 10 negatives, retest to see how you’ve improved. Once you can perform at least 2 repetitions or more with good form, start practicing increasing your volume.

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May 21, 2018 · 9:19 am

KORE: Functional Strength Test

I’m excited to introduce a new level to our member development at KORE Wellness! While the functional movement screen is a wonderful tool and helps us make sure that you stay safe and avoid risk of injury, it doesn’t take our members beyond moving well into improving functional performance. We want to create a roadmap to help our member improve every aspect of health. Our areas of focus will center around functional movement, functional strength, and soon we’ll introduce a functional wellness category too!

The functional strength test is a way for you to test your current strength. We’re not a performance gym, we’re a wellness gym so for this test, we weren’t interested in any amount of weight you could lift but your ability to move your body with the amount of strength needed to live without limits. In our opinion, if you can achieve a level 6 on the functional strength test, you find that you can do anything you want in you everyday life.

The functional strength test is based off of Al Kavedo’s century test, a strength and conditioning challenge that consists of 100 consecutive bodyweight repetitions performed in 4 exercises done back to back. We’ve taken it and created levels that will allow us to measure your current level of functional strength.

THE FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH TEST

Men:

40 Squats to ball

30 Push-ups to block

20 Hanging knee raise (Knees to elbows)

10 Pull-ups

Women:

40 Squats to ball

30 Knee Push-ups to block

20 Hanging knee raise (knees to elbows)

10 Aussie Pull ups

 

RULES OF TESTING (According to Al):

  • The exercises must be performed in the order listed.
  • Squats must be performed with a minimum depth of top of the thighs parallel to the floor and a full lock out at the top of each rep. Arms may be raised in front, crossed, or placed on top of the head. Heels must stay flat the entire time.
  • Push-up depth must reach a minimum of 90 degrees of flexion as measured along the outside of the elbow and a full lockout must be achieved at the top of every rep. A straight body position must be maintained throughout the entire range of motion. No sticking your butt into the air or leaving your hips down on the ground.
  • Hanging knee raises must be performed with the knees being raised above waist level and a full extension of the legs at the bottom of every rep. Swinging shall be kept to a minimum. Arms must remain straight the entire set.
  • Pull-ups may be performed with an overhand or underhand grip. The chin must clear the bar at the top of each rep and a full extension must be reached at the bottom. Kipping will not be allowed. (Australian pull-ups are to be performed with the bar at waist height and a straight body position must be maintained throughout.)
  • Rest may be taken in between exercises, but each exercise must be completed unbroken in a single set. You may pause briefly between reps as long as the position is held (i.e. top of push-up position, bottom of pull-up, etc.)
  • The entire test will be timed with a goal of completing the 100 reps in under 5 minutes. The reps may be performed as quickly as you like as long as all the above rules are adhered to.

THE KORE Wellness Functional Strength LEVELS:

Level 1: Complete in under 5 minutes with every exercise modified or broken.

Level 2: Complete in under 5 minutes with no more than three exercises modified or broken.

Level 3: Complete in under 5 minutes with no more than two exercises modified or broken.

Level 4: Complete in under 5 minutes with no more than one exercise modified or broken.

Level 5: Complete in under 5 minutes with every exercise unmodified and unbroken.

Level 6: Men: Complete wearing a 15lb weight vest in under 5 minutes with every exercise unmodified and unbroken. Women: Complete men’s version in under 5 minutes with every exercise unmodified and unbroken.

Definitions:  Broken means you have to rest during the exercise (i.e. break up the reps).  Any pause longer than 2 seconds is considered a rest.

Modified means that you cannot perform the exercise as described and you change the exercise in some way to allow yourself to keep good form.  Example would be using a band to assist your push ups or having a box to touch your feet down to in between reps of hanging knee raise

THE CHALLENGE: Improve your functional level by 1 this month:

Step 1: Complete the Functional Strength Test – Have your trainer help you complete the test.

Step 2: Determine your functional strength level – Use the guide above.

Step 3: Pick a weak link to fix – Decide which exercise you want to spend the month improving.

Step 4: Develop a plan to improve – Work with your trainer to craft a strategy to improve your weak link.

Step 5: Implement the plan – Spend the month working on improving your weak link.

Step 6: Retest – At the end of the month repeat the functional strength test to see how you’ve improved.

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May 9, 2018 · 10:17 am

The key to sustainable progress and long term success?

The key to sustainable progress and long term success? Taking your time and doing it right. Member of the Month Kelly L’s Story

What Jared has to say about Kelly:

Kelly has been with us at KORE for about a year and a half. The improvements she has made in that time are tremendous! Kelly is not only consistent but always in a great mood, always smiling and making everyone around her smile! She has been willing to do whatever is necessary to reach her goals. The past few months she has had a lot of progress in the difficulty of the workouts she does at the gym. We have also re-evaluated her goals getting ready for a big year coming up for Kelly. She also participated in March Madness again this year. The two physical challenges, the rower and squats, she beat her marks from last year! My favorite achievement however, is Kelly’s commitment to her nutrition which she made a year ago this month. Kelly and I started weekly nutrition coaching sessions last March and she not only stuck with the program but also consistently came to our meetings. This has lead to a complete shift in the way that Kelly approaches nutrition and her life outside the gym. Sticking with this commitment has been huge accomplishment that I am proud to be her guide on this journey, and excited to see her continued progress!

What Kelly has to say about: her journey:

How did you originally hear about us?

My sister Kathy is a member and told me about KORE.

What prompted you to seek us out once hearing about us?

I had some pain in my hip and needed to work on my overall flexibility.

What was your initial goal when you signed up with us?

To work on flexibility

What was holding you back from achieving this goal (before you joined)?

I wasn’t sure really how to go about improving flexibility without further causing pain or injury.

Has this goal changed since you joined KORE Wellness? If yes, what is your new goal?

Yes and no. I want to continue to work on flexibility but also want to lose weight by gaining strength, decrease body fat percentile and gaining muscle.

Now that you’re working on/have achieved this goal, has your view of yourself changed?

Yes, I can tell such a difference in my overall flexibility, strength and stamina with workouts.

How do you feel about your future health?

I feel good about my health going forward.

What have you liked best about working with us?

The encouraging and friendly staff. I like that you help clients reach their goals by specifically designing workouts/programs based on their ability.

What would you say to someone who is struggling with the same goal?

We always want a quick fix. By taking your time and doing it the right way you will achieve your goals.

Find out more about KORE Wellness here.

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April 24, 2018 · 9:35 am

April’s Wellness Challenge: TAKE-5

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April’s Wellness Challenge: TAKE-5

During the month of April, we’re asking you to carve out 5 minutes from your day to develop and practice some mindful habits with the hopes of increasing your tolerance to stress. In my daily conversations with clients, stress seems to be the biggest complaint and while we might not be able to reduce our stress load, there certainly are strategies to help you cope with stress better. Before we get to those strategies, let’s find out what your current baseline is.

How tolerant are you to stress? Take this quiz to find out:

  1. My family seems to be:
    1. Stress resistant
    2. Stress-prone
  2. Historically, I have:
    1. Practice at handling stress (sports, competitions, military, etc)
    2. Little to no exposure to stress
  3. My current stress load is:
    1. Moderate
    2. Very high / Very low
  4. My current environment includes high levels of time:
    1. Spent outdoors, in nature AND/OR with loved ones
    2. Spent in clinical/industrial spaces AND/OR without loved ones
  5. My support network is:
    1. Strong
    2. Weak
  6. When coping with stress:
    1. I easily find ways to calm myself when emotional
    2. I easily am overwhelmed by my emotions
  7. My general attitude is:
    1. Go with the flow, optimistic, proactive, confident, agile, willing to rise to a challenge
    2. Resistant to change, pessimistic, reactionary, not confident, paralyzed, avoid problems and challenges

Add up the number of 1’s and 2’s that you answered, If you have more 1’s than 2’s, you have a higher tolerance stress. If you have more 2’s than 1’s, you have a lower tolerance to stress. There are a lot of variables that come into play when we discuss your ability to handle the stressors that affect your everyday life, some you have very little to no control over like genetics, history, and current stress loads. Others, you do have more control over, like environment, support network, coping ability, and attitude. The goal of April’s Take five challenge is to work on the things we can change to help develop a higher tolerance to stress.

What is your current level of stress (Which answers apply best to your current state)?

Stress is too low

Stress is just right

Stress is too high

Lethargic

Bored

Unfocused

Directionless

Purposeless

Energized

Engaged/Interested

Actively moving towards goals

Learning and growing

Anxious or obsessive

Depressed

Panicked and floundering

Stuck or numb

Diet / Sleep is disrupted

Now that you know your stress tolerance and current level of stress, it’s important to know that no matter what your state, doing activities proven to increase your parasympathetic response have amazingly positive effects on the body including:

  • Boosting the immune system
  • Improving sleep, mood, emotional regulation, and circadian rhythm
  • Lowering blood pressure, heart rate, stress hormones, and inflammation
  • Supporting the the development of new brain cells, neural connections, and gray matter.
  • Sharpening your focus, mental clarity, attention, memory, and recall.

Even if you’re not stressed, learning coping strategies now will have a preventative effect on any future stressors that come your way! There are many coping strategies, but they all involve taking a break from the daily grind and carving out time for yourself! Here are a few:

  • Take a walk outside
  • Go outside and get moderate sun exposure (15 minutes)
  • Enjoy nature
  • Listen to low key music
  • Get a massage
  • Do deep breathing
  • Spend time laughing
  • Snuggle with a loved one or pet
  • Do some easy swimming
  • Practice yoga or do slow stretching
  • Spend time in in a hot tub or sauna
  • Play (non-competitive)
  • Meditate
  • Mind/body scan

All of us, on some level, are captive to our daily grind so the easiest option that we can provide to do this is the 5-minute mind/body scan. You can do this anywhere, at anytime and reap the benefits (above) that come from slowing down and calming your body.

Here’s your April Wellness challenge: For the next 21 days, carve 5 minutes out of your day to do a Mind/Body Scan. 1-3 times per week, choose one of the other coping strategies above:

How to do a 5- minute mind body scan:

    1. Find a quiet place with no distractions.
    2. Sit or lie down.
    3. Set a timer, for 5 minutes.
    4. Start at the top of your head, and slowly scan down to your toes.
    5. Notice all physical sensations: hot / cold, itchy, tense, etc. Observe, don’t judge.
    6. Record the answers to the questions below in a journal.
    7. Question 1: What are you feeling, physically?
    8. Question 2: What are you feeling, emotionally?
    9. Question 3: What are you thinking?
    10. Question 4: Based on this scan, what have you learned about yourself today?

At the end of this challenge, after doing 20 days in a row, we’ll revisit the quizzes and see how things have changed!

Feel free to use this spreadsheet to track your 5-minute mind body scan during this challenge. Just click the link to open up the document, then go to file and make a copy for your own private use!

 

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April 9, 2018 · 10:05 am

The Benefits of Mindfulness

Written by Jared Kauffman

At KORE, we focus a lot on the fact that we’re not called KORE fitness but KORE Wellness. We like to stress that there are more sides to wellness than just good nutrition and exercise. Fitness and nutrition are important components of well-rounded health, but what about mindfulness? This month we’re challenging our members to take 5 everyday and practice mindfulness.

Most people are immediately think about about meditation when they hear a word like mindfulness. Yes, meditation could one way that you obtain mindfulness, but there is a much more broad definition to mindfulness. It suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through. In a world full of noise, whether through the dings and chimes on your phone, the 24-hour news cycle, the sound of a new work email coming into your mailbox, calls from your family and friends, etc, it’s easy to get into a habit of never taking time to be mindful of what is going on inside you.

So why is mindfulness important and what can it do for your health?

The most widespread lifestyle ailment that can be improved with mindfulness is stress! We talk about stress a lot at the gym, and how what we do and eat can affect your stress levels. Whether it’s your job, school, kids, parents, or random drivers on the interstate, we all have things that regularly cause stress.

The physical effects of stress range from illness, injury, weight gain, fatigue, depression, chronic disease, and much more. Stress is simply your response to something that happens in the world around you. Therefore, with the right techniques and a little practice, you can learn to have a response to your daily stressors that is much more controlled and calmed. This is where practicing mindfulness comes in by taking time to become fully aware of what’s happening, to think about what you’re doing in response to what’s happening, and to ask why or what could I do differently, you start to learn how to take control of the stressors in your life and dictate how they control you. Even if you don’t feel as though stress plays a large part in your life, being mindful can help in other ways. Some of these positives include but are not limited to:

-Reduced food cravings or develop awareness of your hunger/fullness cues

-Reduced negative and increased positive thoughts

-Increased overall happiness

-Increased ability to focus

-Increased memory and cognitive abilities

-Help in breaking bad habits

-Help to relax and get better sleep.

These benefits all come back to the idea that by becoming more mindful you have more control of your response to external factors. You can start to see results with 5 minutes of quiet time, or structured deep breathing, walking, body scan techniques, simply taking time to be with yourself, and more.

During the month of April, we are going to help educate you on different ways to be mindful and challenge you to take 5 minutes out of your busy day for yourself. Stay tuned for details coming soon!

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April 2, 2018 · 9:47 am

Upper body kettlebell workout

Something’s Got to Give

This is a upper body workout using 1 kettlebell (feel free to use different weights for each of the different exercises)

  • 10 Kneeling Halos each direction
  • 10 Jumping Pull-ups
  • 10 High Pulls
  • 10 Alternating Bent-over rows

Recommended sets: 3, 4, or 5 depending on the weight you are using and fitness level, rest 1-3 min between sets.  Do another set when you are rested enough to complete the exercises with good form.

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March 27, 2018 · 10:30 am

Your nutrition questions answered.

food-salad-restaurant-person.jpgMy mom directed me towards this article written by Mark Bittman, author of multiple cookbooks including, How to Cook Everything, and David Katz founding director of Yale Univiersity’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, Past President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

 

The authors do a very good job to address most of the myths of nutrition and is very up to date with current research.  It’s definitely worth a read and a good template for most people to use when thinking about nutrition! I will say that if you have food sensitivities or specific anti-inflammatory issues, these answers are for the general healthy person, and you may have to continue with your specific dietary modifications.  The answers are also based on current research so some more specific answers may change but the ultimate guidelines, the ones that I have found to bring the most success to all of my nutrition clients will NEVER change.

 

In this article Mark and David cover questions on Paleo, Keto, Gluten Free, Lectins, Low carb, Vegetarian, and much much more!

 

Click here to read!

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March 26, 2018 · 9:30 am