What are you missing from your fitness?

Just because you can ride a bike for 100 miles, run for ten, bench press 300 lbs, hold a yoga pose, does not mean you are truly fit and healthy.

I see it all the time with new clients, they are very proud of the fitness they have gained in a particular discipline and I am happy for them.  However, in many cases, I could line up what I see as the X men or women of fitness, and here is what you would see: Yoga Woman, Strongman, Pretzel girl, Cardio Queen, Power Ranger, Pilates Queen, Gym king, Running Man, Bicycle man.  I am sure I could come up with some additional categories, but you get the idea.

Even though to the average person someone who can run 20 miles, bike 100, do numerous days of Pilates and yoga may seem fit to the layman, they may possess huge gaps in their fitness.   I see different super heroes of fitness all the time.  The cyclist that possesses great cardio and quad strength, but are so hugely deficient in many other aspects of fitness, balance, and strength.  They wonder why they are always having little nagging problems in their backs, hips, shoulders etc.  and never reach their full potential.

With this in mind I wanted to talk about the components of fitness.  Obviously, different sports lend themselves to different skill sets.  However, you as an athlete, should have a minimal proficiency in all areas of fitness which will open the door to greatness in a specific discipline.    This is the first step to become great in a specific sport.  It is similar to your general education requirement in an undergraduate degree.  It is important that you have a foundation of overall education before you get to upper division classes, and eventually a graduate within a specific area.

This is also where the difference in exercise and training present themselves.  Most people exercise.  Spinning classes, circuit classes, walking, etc.  These are all good forms of exercise, but typically focus on one dimension of fitness.  Building an athlete for peak performance is like building an office building.  There are so many dimensions that need to be addressed.  Exercise is better than not exercising, but training and building a body for performance is a completely different animal.  Unfortunately most people cannot see the difference.   The public perceives value by how hard the workout is and not by the true value of building better performance.

What goes into building this foundation of fitness?

Mobility/Flexibility

Our bodies are built to move, but even if you averaged 2 hours a day of exercise 7 days a week, you are only exercising for 8% of the total time in a week.  The rest of the time most people are sitting or driving or sleeping.

If most of our time is spent not moving then we have to undo much of what happens to our body sitting slouched over our desk, driving in our car, etc.  All of this inaction causes immobility.  What many clients miss is that you need proper mobility in hips, shoulders, spine, knees, ankles, etc.   If you do not spend time on mobility and flexibility you will continue to build a body on a weak foundation.  You just magnify the problems.  You watch a small child move and you see how our bodies were meant to move.  Overtime we get further and further away from this optimum movement.  Foam rolling, dynamic warm ups, hip activation, shoulder mobility, etc., are musts.

The problem with fitness today is that it rarely focuses on improving body movements.  It is all about burning calories and going hard.  I try to explain to clients that sometimes the boring stuff is more important.

Stability:

Next is stability.  Stability is something that is often overlooked.   This is important in preparing you for the more ballistic work when training for power.  Spine stability is necessary for executing the heavier lifts.  Landing is as important as jumping.

Both mobility and stability are works in progress.  You should be regularly revisiting these exercises to insure integrity in your body so higher levels of fitness can be reached.

I see way too many instances of this being overlooked by individuals to the detriment of their fitness.

Strength:

Strength is the bedrock of most athletic performance.  Strength is your ability to generate a force.   I also believe that lean body mass is your best defense against illness and disease.  I see so many cardio queens and kings that believe fitness is only about cardio fitness.  Strength training adds so much to any athlete and even more so as we age.

Power:

Power is a concept that most people confuse with strength.  Every sport has an X factor of power needed to be proficient at a sport.  Power is strength with speed.  Some have called it speed strength.  A shot putter has an X factor requirement of power of a few throws.  His training focuses on absolute power production.  This type of sport attracts larger individuals.  If the X factor is higher the size of the athlete typically will diminish.  Although if you watch premier league soccer lately the players are getting bigger and bigger.   A road cyclist is seeking a high power to weight and not as much absolute power.  This is because the X factor is very high with a huge number of revolutions in a race.  Tri-athletes are looking for a high average power output over the entire race.  Rarely do you see sprinting in the race.

Cardio:

As stated in the movie Zombieland; Cardio was very important to not being eaten by zombies and is also important in most sports.   As the X factor increases the power produced diminishes and the need for multiple repetitions require other energy systems to support the production of power over longer periods of time.  Absolute strength is not the limiting factor in a bike race.  Oxygen delivery (V02max) and oxygen utilization within the muscle become of great importance.  There is a balancing act between supporting the cardio requirement with the maximum amount of sustained power possible.

So, if you want to do a quick evaluation of your own fitness look at these components and see where you are not at a minimum level.  Spend time improving these areas and you will make a great leap in your sport of choice.

One of my clients recently said that what we do so well is prescriptive exercise.  We evaluate the client to determine what components of fitness we need to focus on today so that we can be better tomorrow.

Train smart, have fun, and you will prevail!

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

President of Sirens and Titans Fitness  

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No divas! I felt all of the women were peers…

No divas!  I felt all of the women were peers…

I have been a runner for the past 30 years.  I was part of a small group, training on our own for our favorite marathons, so we could all travel together to great places and basically run for fun.

Shocked to admit my body is now 60 years old, I feel my knees and L4-5 back issues rising with a vengeance because I never listened to those voices telling me to do alternate training, to stretch properly and eat well.

Like many of us who exercise a lot to keep fit, I believed my diet was perfect, aside from loving (and producing my own) red wine.  My weight was not much of an issue but muscle was rapidly fading into droopy arms & an unwelcome belly!

When Jens introduced me to the Sirens & Titans Fitness focus group in LA, I was elated to try it!  The orientation was insightful and kick started my enthusiasm to learn more about my work outs, diet, and it actually inspired me to read a lot more about the science of exercise.  The 30 minute workout is so doable! .  The routine variations keep you interested and alert.  The reps allow you to focus on strengthening your core and working on all other areas of the body as well.  It is an exercise program that evolves with your personal goals and achievement so it works for any level.

The community of women in my group was extremely warm, always encouraging.  No divas!  I felt all of the women were peers even though our fitness levels were all very different.

By the time you are on a bike, Versa Climber, or rowing machine for a few final minutes of cardio, you feel renewed and strong.

S&TF offers a unique program, accessible to all women wanting to achieve total fitness.  The staff is absolutely professional, focusing attention on each and everyone’s workout.  Jacques sends emails after reviewing your personal food charts with advice, and coaches you on diet …a real eye opener!  His blogs and various reference articles are extremely insightful.  The S&TF coaches understand our highs and lows, both our sore muscles and our strengthening in progress.  They encourage us to work harder in a safe, upbeat environment so it’s actually a lot of fun!

Looking forward to increasing my personal fitness level in 2014 with the Sirens & Titans Fitness team!

Robyn B.

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I felt great in the bikini I wanted to wear in Cabo!

The Sirens &Titans Fitness focus group was introduced to me by a friend and it came at the best time.  I wanted to lose weight and tighten up in short amount of time.  Luckily, I was able to achieve that with S&TF.  In just 5 weeks, I lost 8 pounds and sculpted my figure. I fit into jeans that were too snug for me.  I also was able to fit into dresses that I just wasn’t comfortable in.  I felt great in the bikini I wanted to wear in Cabo.  But more importantly, I feel stronger and firmer all over.

In addition, I improved my eating habits.  The team holds you accountable for maintaining a journal and making the program all come together.  I wouldn’t have got the results I did, if it wasn’t for the nutrition part of the program.  Jacques especially knows what he’s doing!  It’s a program that helps manage what you eat, creating a healthy lifestyle in just 30 minutes.  With my busy schedule, I couldn’t believe I got what I’ve been looking for in this program.  I am really satisfied with S&TF and would recommend it to anyone who wants to really make a difference with their body.

Alicia H.

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S&TF Coach, Rob Robinson, posted a new 10K PR over the weekend at the Santa Monica-Venice XMAS Run (Sat. Dec. 7th).

S&TF Coach, Rob Robinson, sets a new PR!!!

Posted on December 13th, 2013

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S&TF Coach, Rob Robinson, posted a new 10K PR over the weekend at the Santa Monica-Venice XMAS Run (Sat. Dec. 7th).  Rob’s PR was set during some chilly temps and rain!

Rob’s overall race time was 38:32 (6:12 min per mile).  He beat his old record by 3 secs!!!  However, Rob is not yet content with his results, since he has an overall goal of taking his pace down to the 5 min. per mile range.  Following the S&TF training philosophy, he knows that reaching a fitness objective, in a healthy fashion, requires a series of progressions, which when done the right way will enable him to reach his goals.

We will keep you updated on Rob’s performances as he continues on his quest to reach his running objective.

Great job Rob and congratulations from all your S&TF colleagues and clients!

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S&TF Founder and CEO, Jacques DeVore, on Live TV!

S&TF Founder and CEO, Jacques DeVore, on Live TV!

S&TF CEO and founder, Jacques DeVore, appeared on TV (Trojan TV) at USC in November! The broadcast went out live to 30,000 students, and a week later it went out on a local public TV channel, broadcasting to well over 1,000,000 viewers!

During the interview Jacques was asked what his inspiration and catalyst was for developing S&TF, the realities of bringing the concept to market, his view of the competitive landscape and the fitness industry as a whole.

To see the broadcast in its entirety click on this link: http://tv8-1.usc.edu/?p=16742

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For the first time in a long while, I felt really strong…

Posted on December 10th, 2013

Not too long ago I was working out at my gym and this very muscular guy pointed to the 25 lb dumbbells that were sitting next to me and asked if I was using them.  I giggled and said “Yeah right.” (Not sure if he was joking or serious) and continued with my usual 10 lb curls.  As I picked up the 30 lb dumbbells today, to do one arm rows, it reminded me of that moment.  And I, for the first time in a long while, felt really strong.  I’m not quite sure if it’s because I got that much stronger in such a short time, or if this place just brought out the best in me. I think it was a little bit of both.

There is something wonderful about a place designed to empower women, literally.  Not just to lean out, or make one look more toned, like a lot of gyms out there, although that does happen as a side effect.  Sirens & Titans Fitness strengthens your whole body, so you feel like you can take on anything, like Life as a Woman.

T.B. Beauty expert, Mother, Wanna be triathlete

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Food Coaching: How to successfully deal with your Fat Set Point and Successfully Get Leaner in the long term.

Over the last 3 years I have successfully coached hundreds of women and men on weight loss and how to change body composition.  I hear the following comments with regularity. ? I don’t agree with your diet,  the food journal is hard, nothing works for me, I don’t want to get big, if I lift heavy I get huge, why am I not losing weight faster, why can’t I have cheat days, you are trying to do (x) to me.?  With this in mind I thought it would be good to discuss how we coach our clients on food.

 

First let?s talk about association, observation, correlation, and causation.  The rooster crows and the sun comes up.  Does that mean the rooster causes the sunrise?  Of course not.  However many people look at changes in their bodies and use the same reasoning.  They use observations and associations and leap to causation.  This is a flaw of our brains.  We try to seek the most readily available answer based on the information.  We all want clean easy answers to complex questions.  However, fitness and weight loss may seem simple, but they are extremely complex and requires some critical thinking to figure out how our bodies respond to different environments.

Without completely isolating someone in a lab and measuring every gram of food on both a micronutrient and macronutrient basis it is very difficult to determine how your body responds to food.  In our program at Sirens & Titans Fitness we use an online food journal to give us a better understanding of how food impacts an individual’s health, energy, and body comp.   With enough data and monitoring of body comp and energy level one can have a better understanding of the impact of food on a body.  Most people realize that body composition is impacted more from food than exercise, but everyone spends all their time quantifying the exercise and very little time quantifying food intake.   Without any measurement at all it is almost impossible to identify what foods cause you to gain or lose weight.

Let’s discuss Fat set point and how this ties into weight loss and gain and why weight loss can be so difficult for so many people. I always counsel clients that we have to first find what changes in your eating trigger weight loss and then determine how to make it sustainable.  It is usually easier to know what does not work than what does work.

What is the Fat Set point theory?

Let me start by explaining this internal thermostat that regulates how much body fat is stored.   Much of weight loss, and believe it or not, weight gain is impacted by this concept. This thermostat for body size is in your brain.

Our bodies are very clever at trying to maintain an equilibrium based on external environments.  The easiest to see example of this is body temperature.  When we get too warm we start to sweat to cool our bodies, and when we get cold we begin to shiver to try to increase the body temperature.  Why do some of us do better in heat and some in cold?  Our genetics have an impact on our ability to adjust to changes in our environment.  It does not say that we cannot get better at adjusting, however some of us just feel more comfortable than others in different environments.

?Fat set point theory? is similar. In the simplest form we all have a particular range of weight that our bodies will hover around.  This range may change over time.  Most of the science points to a range of plus or minus 10% of body weight.  Movement within the range is considered normal, but once we start getting beyond the range the body will start to make changes.  The body will start to shiver or sweat in a weight loss manner.  This is the body’s way of taking you back to homeostasis.  This applies to weight gain as well as loss.

There are a lot of factors that can disrupt this homeostasis.  In today’s crazy world the list is long and can make weight loss very difficult for some.  Disease, diabetes, thyroid issues, adrenal burnout, depression, medication and yoyo dieting, stress etc. can all impact body composition.  Some people gain weight when stressed and some lose weight.

So this brings me back to why understanding this theory is important.  Most people have great difficulty losing weight and keeping it off.  How are people successful at overcoming this fat set point?

When coaching someone on weight loss, I first have them fill out a food journal and we can see what type of food is currently maintaining their homeostasis.  It is similar to developing a strategy for athletic performance in a sport.  We first establish the athlete’s starting point and then identify strengths and weaknesses.   From a great deal of science of sport, our experience training other athletes, understanding the needs of the particular sport, we identify strengths and weakness of the athlete and then create an overarching strategy that is tactically dynamic so that, dependent on individual responses, it will give the athlete the greatest amount of improvement in the time we have to train with them.  All of these strategies must be dynamic.  We may try squats with one athlete and find that deadlifts are more appropriate with another athlete based on biomechanical individualities.

Our coaching methodology with eating is not dissimilar.  We understand that everyone is different so we do not recommend a specific diet to anyone.  What we do is establish their start point and initially just try to eliminate as much of the processed food and refined sugars and flours.  Most of this food is nutrient vacant, inflammatory and typically promotes weight gain dependent on activity level and age.  Once we begin to make these changes we try to establish where the tipping point for weight loss occurs.  In some cases these initial changes in eating will result in body comp changes.   Our goal is sustainability so we initially do not focus so much on calories.  We also try to incorporate foods that the client is already comfortable eating.  This helps in making the changes sustainable.   We look at calories to make sure the client is eating enough based on BMR and activity level.

We cannot determine this tipping point and what changes caused this without a food journal to go back and reference.  Weight loss is very elusive for most because they think they know what may cause changes in their weight based on changes in how much they eat.  These changes may have an impact but not be the cause of the weight loss.  In other words if you eat 3000 calories a day and you cut your calories to 1500 calories and all else is equal you have not only cut your calories in half, but all of your micro and macro nutrients as well.  So the loss of weight may have been a result of the calories but also were impacted by the macronutrients and how a body responds to the food.  The sticking point with calorie restriction is that in a short amount of time your internal thermostat will slow metabolism based on the lower amount of calories.   Through a process of making changes and seeing how an individual responds to these changes we are usually able to see where this weight loss tipping point exists, based more on causation not on just observations or associations.

The issues with clients typically arise with filling out the food journal.  They think they can just pay attention to what I eat? and that will tell them everything they need to know.  The clients who are successful at weight loss are the ones who make the commitment to diligently record their food for 6-8 weeks.  After recording food for this time clients have usually figured out how they lose or gain weight based on the amount of food and types of food.

Once this first step is established we then have to come up with tactics to make it sustainable.  This is typically where people run into problems with most weight loss programs.  They have the initial success and then cannot sustain the diet.   We try to create a way of eating that coupled with exercise, is sustainable and fits into one’s lifestyle and also deals with your internal fat set point more effectively.   It typically means that it is a slower process for some, but we believe it is a much more sustainable approach.  The client really learns how their body metabolizes food and how this translates into health, energy level, and body composition.

Now back to the Fat Set point.  The irony of weight loss is it gets harder as you lose more weight.  Part of this is every pound of weight lost is a greater percentage of your body weight and in addition your internal thermostat begins to work against you.     We try to get our client’s to focus on body composition.  This aids on two fronts.  One is that you will look better which everyone wants.  Your clothes will fit better, you are healthier with more lean body mass, you are physically stronger and more powerful, and because your body’s thermostat is trying to keep your weight in a certain range it is easier to accommodate your genetics.

When our body’s  lose weight it will accommodate this loss to a point and then it will start making changes to get you back to your fat set point range or previous homeostasis.  It does this by slowing metabolism, changing your desire for certain foods and in some instances changing the overall set point.  There are also hormonal changes in leptin (the hormone that makes you hungry) and ghrelin (the hormone that makes you feel full). This is why some people get even heavier after a diet.

So Fat Set Point Theory can be an issue, but one that can be addressed best by not starving yourself, determining the foods that cause you to gain weight, adding exercise to maintain a higher metabolism, adding lean body mass,  focusing on body composition instead of weight, and staying consistent.  These tactics can create an environment for sustainable weight loss.   Patience, patience, patience is key when overcoming your bodies desire to maintain homeostasis.  I always remind clients that if they have been this weight for some time, it will take some consistency in your changes for their body to recognize that the changes in eating and exercise will be the new homeostasis.

In summary: A good strategy for weight loss and improvement in body composition is to journal your food and determine a weight loss tipping point.  Once this is accomplished, develop eating habits that can fit into your lifestyle and allow you to maintain this tipping point.  Both of these require tracking food for about 8 weeks.  Some people are able to figure this out quicker than others.  If you do not account for the food your odds for success drop dramatically.

Combat your Fat Set Point by not restricting calories and semi starvation, focus on adding lean body mass through exercise, and focus on body composition and not weight.  All of these will help you maintain the highest possible metabolic rate which will help you to overcome your current fat set point.

Train smart, have fun, and you will prevail!

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

President  of Sirens & Titans Fitness   
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