The Power of One Chin-Up pt.2

In the last installment, we touched on the importance of the chin-up and the beginnings of how you can get to your first one. In this article, we’ll continue the conversation with some things you can work on towards that goal. The main thing you can do on a constant basis is eating clean. Carrying around a 50 lb backpack while trying to do a chin-up is no fun (unless you are into that kind of insanity). Having larger portions of vegetables (spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts) to starch (sweet potatoes, yams, quinoa, amaranth) as well as clean sources of protein (whole eggs, LEAN meats, poultry, game, and fatty fish) will help to decrease extra weight that you may be carrying on your person.

In addition, exercises that work the same pulling muscles provide the essential foundation for getting your first chin-up. Rows of any type whether they with Dumbbells, Cable Machines, TRX or a Barbell have obvious carryover to the pulling motion of a chin-up. With rows, the more you start to adjust the exercise to make it more difficult, the closer you will start to be towards your goal.  For example, if you are on the cable machine rows, start to move from a standing position to kneeling to eventually a sitting position. When you eventually are in a seated position, be sure to place the cables at a higher point and pull the handles or bar down to your chest. To complement that adjustment, be sure to keep your core tight and exhale as you pull. With suspension toys like the TRX or jungle gym. the closer your feet are to the anchor point, usually the wall or column, the harder rows become. If you want to really try an advanced exercise, you could try putting your feet on the wall itself. Now that takes total body tension that wakes everything up. Another exercise that will have a lot of benefit to your chin-ups will actually be the deadlift. Although most may think it a leg exercise, the deadlift works so many muscles throughout your body including your back, arms, forearms and grip that you should start noticing an improvement in your grip immediately. As with any exercise, be sure that your form and understanding of the technique is established so that you don’t end up hurting yourself.

In the next article, we will take a look at more advanced exercises that will get a little closer to having you fly over the bar to get that first chin-up.  If you are interested in learning more, please call (646) 684-4912 or e-mail to discuss using the Inbody scale (to assess you body composition) or scheduling a strategy session (to discuss health history and goals, as well as review body composition and movement patterns). If you wanted to start working towards that first chin-up right away, call and see which one of our classes may be the best fit for you.

Until next time Familia,

Coach Tony

The Power of One Chin-Up

Ever since I was a kid, all I could dream about was flying through the air like one of my favorite superheros. While reality has changed the path, the dream still stands. These days though, I am looking at a different way to reach the skies – the infamous chin-up bar. Having the ability to vertically pull your body up is a liberating sensation. The benefit that comes to your body is immense. In a chin-up, the muscles in your forearms, biceps, and back are worked in one of the most functional exercises that could potentially be life saving should you need to literally pull yourself up over a ledge. The real magic though, comes from the emotional and psychological benefit that completing a chin-up can have. Knowing that you have the relative strength (the amount of strength you have given your body type or size), balanced body composition (muscle-fat-weight ratio), and training (exercises done to prep you for the chin-up) to get you over that bar will do wonders for self-esteem, confidence, and goal setting.

Getting to your first chin-up is not something that comes easy nor fast. There are a few factors that need to be in place first to ensure that you will get that first chin-up. The first ones that provides the foundation is a balanced body composition and pulling strength in back and arms. Having extra weight with regard to fat never helps in life, let alone athletic endeavors. The cleaner the eating habits, better controlled the portions, and better timing of meals will all point you in the right direction of losing fat and increasing muscle. In addition, there are some exercises that you should become comfortable with to assist you on your journey to being able to do a chin-up. Exercises that directly stimulate the back, biceps, forearms, and grip are necessary. This includes rows of all types (bent over, cable machine, suspension, inverted), lat pulldowns, deadlifts, etc.

In the next article, we will take a look at what you can do both at home and in the gym to get you closer to that first chin-up. If you are interested in learning more, please call (646) 684-4912 or e-mail to discuss using the Inbody scale (to assess you body composition) or scheduling a strategy session (to discuss health history and goals, as well as review body composition and movement patterns). If you wanted to start working towards that first chin-up right away, call and see which one of our classes may be the best fit for you.

Until next time Familia,

Coach Tony

Coming Soon to Body Space Fitness and Base PT…

BSF and Base Physical Therapy will soon be the home of an AlterG Anti Gravity Treadmill®. The AlterG is the latest in physical therapy and rehab, and clinical research supports its ability to help athletes, physical therapy patients, and lay people alike recover faster from lower body injuries; improve sports performance; and improve mobility.

Check out this video of Base PT owner Nina Figueroa testing out the AlterG!

Nina on the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill

SHAPE in Action

In last month’s newsletter, we announced that Coach Kelvin was featured in the May 2014 issue of SHAPE Magazine. The awesome workout that Kelvin put together included several total-body exercises, all of which are demonstrated in the videos here below by BSF Coach Lauren!

Up your workout ante by including battle ropes, kettlebells, and sandbags. Battle ropes are great for training power development; kettlebells are great implements to increase strength in multiple dimensions and improve deceleration and stabilization; and sandbags’ instability provides dynamic variability to the workout so you have to engage more muscles to stabilize the load.


SHAPE in Action: Circuit #1

SHAPE in Action: Circuit #2

BSF Culture: A Few Words from BSF Client, Eddie E.

At BSF, we want to see our clients achieve all their goals: success for the client means success for us. Eddie E. is a client who came to BSF hoping to get strong and improve his marathon time. Here’s what he had to say:

How long have you been a member? Since June 2012.

In this last year, thinking back, what did you enjoy most about being a member at Body Space? I like the atmosphere and I always feel welcome. It’s my personal gym as far as I’m concerned. It’s the most at ease I’ve ever felt working out at a gym not in my own home.

What was your absolute favorite workout this past year? And how about your lease favorite? TFW (Training for Warriors) is my favorite. I don’t have a least favorite, although Kelvin (coach and co-owner of BSF) likes to experiment with me when he has a new workout he wants to try. I usually end up enjoying it also.

Did you accomplish any new goals or have anything over the year surprise you? Yes, absolutely. I’d run two marathons before I started  training here and two since and the difference in my recovery and overall performance has been a complete 180. My overall health and knowledge have improved tenfold.

To wrap up, how has the Body Space Fitness team helped you to accomplish these goals this past year? I repeat, they practice what they preach and it shows. They are very knowledgeable and make sure everyone’s goals are catered to. From seasoned athletes to casual athletes, all goals are welcomed.

A Little Bit about HIIT and How It Kept Our Ancestors Strong and Lean

There are many exercise “buzzwords” peppering the fitness landscape these days. But there’s one that you might have heard more often than others: HIIT, or high intensity interval training.  Chances are you’ve heard the term from your trainer, gym buddy, or maybe you read about it. According to a survey conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine, HIIT is one of the two top fitness trends for 2014, along with bodyweight training.

HIIT is characterized by short bursts of intense exercise in which the aim is to give a 100%, all-out effort. The intervals are followed by short and sometimes active rest periods. HIIT is extremely effective and versatile. There are many benefits to high intensity interval training, including: a higher basal metabolic rate (rate of oxygen consumption while awake but at rest); more efficient metabolism; it’s quick and convenient, and no equipment is required to do it if you can’t make it to the gym or are traveling.

Nearly any form of exercise can take the form of HIIT. For example, by pairing exercises that work opposing muscle groups (called supersets) and performing them back-to-back with little rest, you can achieve the HIIT effect. Running sprints on the treadmill interspersed with short periods of walking for recovery achieve the same end, too. Creating a circuit of 4-5 bodyweight exercises performed in rapid succession with minimal rest is also an effective way to incorporate HIIT in your training regimen.

So given all these factors, why hasn’t HIIT caught on beyond the fitness community? Why is traditional cardiorespiratory exercise still the crowning glory of the mainstream fitness world? For one, it’s hard to retrain people about exercise habits when popular wisdom of the past 40-odd years dictates that sustained aerobic exercise is the key to a healthy ticker and weight loss. Marathoners, cyclists, and other athletes are exalted for their endurance and mental fortitude. An endurance race such as an Ironman bestows permanent bragging rights to its competitors. It is a point of pride for people to log the miles run and cycled. Time spent slogging away on the elliptical has value, or “financial currency,” one might say. But do cardio adherents ever cash in? What’s the return?

Let’s look at some statistics. Today, just over one-third (1/3) of American adults are obese and over sixty-eight (68%) percent are overweight. Simply put, we are the fattest and the unhealthiest we’ve ever been as a nation, a nation that loves its cardio.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Those statistics are a result of the exceedingly sedentary nature of our lives. Most folks who do cardio exercise regularly are not the ones contributing to those statistics.” While that’s mostly true, there are people who “do cardio” and are overweight and unhealthy. They hit the gym or the pavement with the best of intentions, but they’re probably not seeing the results they want. Why is that? Why might our bodies, from a biological standpoint, respond better to short bursts of intense exercise? What explains the disparity in body composition of a sprinter v. a marathoner? Could the answer lie in our DNA blueprint?

Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint and several other books about the Paleo lifestyle, certainly thinks so. A self-proclaimed recovering cardio enthusiast, Sisson argues that as a species, we have not evolved to “aerobicize” at the “chronic and sustained high intensities” that many people choose to do these days to optimize their health and ward off disease. He argues that HIIT is one of the key elements to recapture, in modern times, the lifestyle that kept our ancestors lean and healthy. Sisson successfully cured himself of several debilitating autoimmune diseases by trading in the endurance cardio for a program characterized by short sprinting workouts interspersed with long walks, hikes, and easy bike rides.  Coupled with altering his diet, Sisson’s workouts helped him increase his aerobic capacity and build muscle by working out less, but smarter.

In order to understand why his methods were successful, you have to look back to how we evolved as a species. Humans evolved two primary energy systems that make physical activity possible. The first energy system uses fat as fuel for metabolic activity. This system sustains us through periods of rest, and provides continuous fuel for low levels of aerobic activity. When in the presence of lots of oxygen, fats are efficient and burn easily, allowing us to take those long walks, hikes, and bike rides without too much difficulty. The reason this system evolved is because it allowed our hunter-gatherer ancestors to cover long distances on foot, foraging for food, and kept them from starving when food was scarce.

The second energy system, or ATP-PC system, enables us to perform short bouts of intense work for brief intervals. This is called the ATP-PC system. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) provides for a quick burst of energy, while PC (phosocreatine) replenishes ATP when depleted. Both molecules work together to push us through grueling sprints and other HIIT-based workouts, but they can only sustain such levels of intensity for 10-20 seconds. This is why we can’t sprint or do other high intensity activities for prolonged periods of time.

The interesting fact about this ATP-PC energy system is that these brief bursts of high intensity exercise force a small “growth spurt” in the muscle, a beneficial adaptation for both prehistoric and modern man. In other words, when you engage in high intensity interval training, you encourage muscle growth and strength. Your body responds in the way evolution designed it to!

HIIT is an incredibly effective and efficient way to burn fat, build muscle, and get on with your life which, let’s face it, is most people’s goal. Most of us don’t want to spend hours in the gym, and HIIT makes it possible to both cut down the time spent exercising and up the fun factor. As previously mentioned, nearly any physical pursuit can be modified into a HIIT workout, so do what you enjoy: just do it faster!  Take a cue from prehistoric man and adapt your exercise plan to make those evolutionary adaptations work for you! No doubt you’ll have more fun, more time, and a more lean and sculpted physique to show for it!

For more information about Mark Sisson, visit his website: