The Posterior Chain Crisis

We all know that obesity is a huge epidemic facing this country. We also know that smoking is dangerous for you and can cause harmful effects. But there is another problem that is facing nearly every American, and it’s a problem that is only now beginning to be addressed: sitting and the impact it has on our musculoskeletal system, in particular the Posterior Chain. Not only is it problematic to how we move, this crisis can lead to serious injury.  The great news, however, is that we can easily improve the critical state of our Posterior Chain by making a few minor changes.

WHAT IS THE POSTERIOR CHAIN?

The posterior chain is pretty much everything you don’t see in the mirror: the back of your neck, the muscles surrounding your shoulder blade, your lower traps, lats and spinal erectors. The posterior chain continues down the body and includes your glutes, your hamstrings, and the much smaller supportive muscles. Beyond allowing us to lift efficiently and injury-free in the gym, the posterior chain allows us to move and keeps us upright.

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HOW DID THE CRISIS OCCUR?

We sit… a lot. Most Americans  sit up to 13 hours a day and then sleep another 8. If we are sedentary for 21 hours a day, it leaves only a couple hours for our body to actually do what it’s designed to do. Move. By remaining stationary, the muscles of our posterior chain remain elongated for too long and aren’t under any type of tension. Because the back side is long and relaxed, our front side (the anterior portion of our body) is the opposite: shortened and tightened. This imbalance causes the short and tight muscles of the front side of our body to constantly pull on the lengthened weak back-side muscles. This results in rounded shoulders, hunched backs, hips that tilt forward, low backs that are stiff and ankles that are tight and just perpetuates the cycle.


WHY IS THIS SUCH A PROBLEM?

As we age the neglect and underdevelopment of the posterior chain can lead to serious health issues that can shorten your life-span and drastically decrease your quality of life. What starts as a small imbalance compounds over time and leads to major reduction in range of motion, stability, and health.


Humans are hinging creatures meaning that our hips are the fulcrum we use to create leverage to move and support the rest of our body. This leverage requires the associated muscles to be actively engaged.Our glutes and hamstrings enable us to pick up pretty much everything. When we pick something up, our back muscles helps keep our spine safe and stable and our hamstrings allow us to use our legs efficiently. Our posterior chain also enables proper arm function. We have the shoulder girdle to help our arms lever around our rib cage, and the shoulder joint is surrounded by muscles that are important for posture, exercise and daily movement. If these muscles are weak, we can’t expect our spine or our shoulders to move properly. When they don’t move properly your  body is at a significantly higher risk of injury, in particular to these muscles of the Posterior Chain.

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT THIS CRISIS?

The easiest way to start making improvements is to stand and move more. Make a conscious effort every day to make a progressive change. Even if it is as small as 5 minutes an hour throughout your work day, that can really add up: 5 minutes every hour at work x 8 work hours a day x 5 work days a week x 52 weeks a year = 10,000+  minutes of more standing a year. Something small today can lead to big changes down the road.

The second thing to do is add more mobility exercises into your routine. Mobility movements allow joints, and therefore the corresponding muscles, to go through a full range of motion. Focus on all your major joints: neck, back, shoulders, hips, ankles. If you’re unsure on how to incorporate mobility into your daily routine, our partners at Performance Care Clinics offer a monthly Mobility Seminar designed to work through all ranges of motion and address muscles of the Posterior Chain.


Finally, exercise under the guidance of a knowledgeable coach. Since you’re stuck in a seated, hunched over position for hours on end, the last thing your body needs is to go sit on a bike and pedal at a high intensity in the same hunched over position; similarly, hitting a ton of crunches is an equally poor choice. These types of  exercise will reinforce the poor postural habits of sitting at a desk rather than allowing your body to go through opposing positions. 

At Bodymass, we address all aspects of engaging the muscles of the posterior chain during both private training and small group training. Our workouts are designed in conjunction with Physical Therapists to ensure we are moving well. We cap classes at ten participants to ensure every participant receives individual coaching and has proper form. Every workout includes moving joints through a full range of motion, focusing on the small and neglected muscles, then lifting to activate those muscles.  

We can all take steps towards addressing this crisis. Stand more, move through full ranges of motion and exercise with the proper guidance. We’re here to help you get started! 

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Written By: Sam Pfister

Join one of Sam’s Small Group Workouts Here!







Stress Management & Strength Training

We all know that exercising is good for us, but we may still avoid it at all cost. It takes many of us longer to make up an excuse to not exercise than it would to put on your tennis shoes and do something. It's not a matter of if we have time to exercise, but a matter of making the time to exercise.  More importantly that just basic exercise, strength training should be made a priority in your routine. 


Let’s talk about the benefits of regular strength training:

1. Controls weight

2. Combats health conditions and diseases

3. Improves mood and stress levels

4. Boosts energy

5. Promotes better sleep


Strength training allows you to put your body and muscles to have time under tension. When you put that type of stress on your body, it is positive (if completed correctly). It allows your body to have an outlet to relieve the bad types of stress in your life: work, school, family obligations, and busy social calendars. 


When you are on a regular schedule of strength training you build strong muscles, bones, confidence, and self-worth. Strength training simply makes your life better.


At Bodymass, we encourage individuals to complete at least 3-4 days of strength training - working your large muscle groups: lower body, upper body, and core. Our Build Program is a great way to help you get into a regular routine, and to learn proper form and technique - Mondays & Thursdays are upper body days, Tuesdays & Fridays are lower body days.


Set goals as to where you want to be, have a plan, stick to it, and prioritize your day with that in mind. Speak with a health professional or personal trainer for tips on how you can get the most of your workout time based on the goals you wish to achieve.  


Not sure where to begin? Book your first workout free or try our Intro to Build at Bodymass! One of our qualified personal trainers will take you through our Build program to help you feel confident and on your way to combating stress one day at a time!

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Written By: Megan Osysko

Train with Megan


Client Spotlight: Samantha Bisogno

As Samantha wraps up her first year as a member of Bodymass Gym, we figure it would be fun to reflect back on her journey here at Bodymass, and how it’s truly impacted her appreciation for fitness and overall health. 

Samantha is a consistent member of the gym.  She comes in for morning workouts every weekday.  She is a true testament of someone who takes our coaching direction and sees results because of her focus.  She comes to Build 4 days a week, twice focusing on upper body and twice focusing on lower body. In addition so gets one day a week of high intensity cardio in Burn where she can hang with some of the strongest guys at Bodymass.

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In the Spring Samantha decided to take her results to a new level and participate in the Body Composition Challenge. The focus of this six week competition was to improve her body composition by increasing lean mass and decreasing fat mass.  A DEXA scan, the most accurate and detailed measure of body composition, is used to analyze results. Over the course of 6 weeks, from May 17th to June 29th she not only dropped 2.3 lbs of fat, but also gained 7.2 lbs of lean mass causing her body fat percentage to drop from 28.8% to 26.1%!.  

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More importantly with the Challenge Samantha learned “a lot about what and how much I needed to eat in order to get stronger. Now I have a better idea of what X grams of protein/carbs/fat looks like in each meal, so I am better equipped to make smart nutrition choices even when I don't have complete control over the meal preparation. I also realized that I had been consuming too much fat and not enough carbs, and I immediately noticed a difference when I made those adjustments and started following the nutrition recommendations for the Challenge.”  She is now able to make smarter nutrition decisions, and her overall health and performance in the gym continues to increase.

Are you interested in taking your fitness & nutrition to the next level? Sign up for the next round of our Body Composition Challenge here!


Written by Bodymass Co-Owner: Virginia Kinkel



How to Increase Your Metabolism

How many times can you remember someone saying that they can’t lose weight, “because of their metabolism”? Chances are you’ve heard that phrase plenty of times as many tend to use it as a crutch to accept the defeat of the stubborn weight loss battle. 

Did you know that your current metabolism is not an end all be all? In fact, you can actually increase your metabolism with methods that are backed by science, building lean muscle.


What is your metabolism?

Your metabolism is your body's ability to convert energy at a certain rate. Your body takes in food, liquid, and oxygen then turns that into fuel. Our body requires energy to function regardless if you’re moving around or not.  While you remain sedentary your body still needs energy for breathing, hormone production, food partitioning, and other vital organ functions - this is known as your resting metabolic rate. Your resting metabolic rate is the rate at which you burn energy while remaining in a sedentary state. 

Muscle burns more calories 

Building muscle is a great way to increase your metabolic rate as muscle tends to burn more calories than fat. If you have more muscle mass than fat mass you are going to burn more energy. The more muscle you have, the more oxygen you need for cellular respiration. Eventually, you will be able to maintain higher intensity workouts for a longer period of time. 

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More muscle, more intensity, more overall calories burned 

Speaking of intensity, when we have more muscle we tend to be able to exercise for a longer period of time. From the time you started your program to the time you finish, you should have noticed how it is easier to get through as you get stronger and build muscle.  Soon enough the intensity of any workout program will need to eventually increase as our body will adapt. However, the more muscle you have, the more you’ll be required to continue to increase and adjust different variables to prevent plateaus. These variables may mean in order for you to train harder you need to train different systems to help assist your muscle gains.


Muscle preservation while aging

As we get older our muscles start to dissipate. If we continue working on a resistance training program as we age, we have better chances at maintaining the muscle we have built while decreasing our risks for loss of bone density loss. Maintaining our muscle mass is just as important as building muscle. 


Overall health

It’s never too late to start building muscle. No matter your age, current level of experience, weight, size, gender, height, the average individual can build muscle mass. Because of the necessary actions, it takes to not only build muscle but to also maintain it, it creates a demand to continue to be active. We are not going for a quick fix. We are aiming for sustainable goals whether that means being bigger, faster, stronger, leaner, balanced, etc - it’s all built up over time. 

How we can help

If you are unsure of your metabolic rate or unsure of how much energy you are actually burning in a day, we can provide you with that information here at Bodymass. Our Resting Metabolic Rate Test measures your oxygen intake versus your output of carbon dioxide. It will provide you calorie ranges specific for your needs.  From here we can help you build a plan best for you to help you find success in reaching your goals in the most efficient way possible!

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Request to Schedule an Appointment here!


Written by: Mariah Webb

Train with Mariah!


Five Reasons You Should Strength Train

Focus on physical fitness has ballooned in popularity over the last decade with gyms of all types popping up. At Bodymass, we’re ecstatic to see so many people breaking out of their comfort zone, connecting with community, and seeking healthier outlets. The benefits of exercise are well documented.

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Strength training is critically important to any exercise regimen. More than just a good sweat or a quick burn, a proper strength training program puts a very different stimulus on the body. Forced by a new stimulus, the body adapts to the strength training program in several ways which are beneficial in the near term and the long term. Here are the top 5 reasons you should take up a strength training program:  

Builds lean muscle mass and increases metabolism

A proper strength training program focuses on increasing an individual’s ability to move more weight over time. This means the body adapts to the new stimulus by creating lean muscle. This new muscle not only makes you look good and feel great, it also helps you maintain a higher metabolism. Lean muscle mass requires more energy and uses more energy throughout the day, where as fatty mass takes less energy to maintain. The more lean muscle mass one has on their body, the more calories they burn throughout the day. This can be measured by a diagnostic tool called Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). Our trainers are trained in implementing this tool and you can watch your metabolism get stronger as you do as well.

Builds stronger bones

Putting a barbell on your back, over your head, or in your hands literally gives you stronger bones. A lack of bone density can create serious problems in life: if an accident were to occur, say falling off a ladder while doing work on your row house or you hit a pothole on your scooter on your way to work, having strong bones helps absorb the fall and prevents breaking an arm or a leg. Later in life, having greater bone density helps prevent hips from breaking when an elderly person falls. Statistics show an elderly person who breaks their hip is up to 60% more likely to die within a year of the accident. A recent study showed a 12 week back squat regimen negated bone loss in middle-aged women with osteopenia and osteosclerosis. BodyMass has a great tool called a DEXA scan. Beyond measuring lean mass and fat mass, it analyzes bone density and you can see your bones get heavier as you do strength training.

Builds confidence

Strength training is a perfect way to have tangible results in a world that rewards accomplishment yet is increasingly digital and ephemeral. Emails, tweets, Instagram posts, database scanning all disappears when the computer or phone is off. A strength training program is tangible; you can feel it: the barbell’s knurl, the sweat dripping down your nose, the increase in your back squat. The feeling of strength sticks with you long after you leave the weight room and is transmitted to your peers through your shoulders and head held high, knowing you are taking on the challenge of a strength program literally meant to push you beyond your current physical limits. 

Builds a better, stronger range of motion

Having a full range of motion and strength in that range of motion is crucial to vibrant living. A strength training program puts you in positions your body would not naturally seek out -- the bottom of a back squat, having a barbell overhead, or hip hinging for a deadlift. These movements teach the body how to move well and stretch areas that otherwise wouldn’t get movement. Think about a heavy back squat. It stretches and strengthens your ankles, knees, groin, hips, all of your back, and your shoulders. While you may not back squat or deadlift in your daily living, you use those muscles for everything -- standing up from your desk, picking up groceries, putting away tools in your garage. Have you ever noticed how your out of shape aunt or uncle sits in their chair? They hover over it and then let gravity do the rest. Likewise, when they get up, it’s more likely they’re pushing themselves up with their arms than they are standing with their legs. Their range of motion is gone and the strength in that range went with it. A solid strength training program would help them immensely. 

Builds smaller, crucial muscles

There are lots of small muscles throughout the body that help support strong joints and healthy movement. Your arms and legs are strong not only because of your biceps or hamstrings, but because the joints they’re connected to are strong. The shoulder, for instance, is primarily supported by the muscles around your shoulder blade connected to your spine and rib cage. But, because people are image conscious, they tend to focus on lifts that look good in a mirror, creating an imbalance toward the front of the shoulder versus the more important back shoulder muscles. Serious injury can occur if these tiny muscles aren’t properly developed -- you can tear a labrum, a rotator cuff, or dislocate your shoulder. A smart strength training program will help build those small muscles to help the body move more efficiently during lifts and help prevent injury in and out of the weightroom. 

At Bodymass, our main strength training program is called Build because we believe it will build a stronger, more flexible, and more resilient you. Our Build program runs in four week cycles to help your body master movements instead of doing something different every time you’re in. This helps achieve results and minimizes the risk of injury. The program is developed based on over a decade of experience and in conjunction with our in-house physical therapists. Our team of professional coaches and small class setting ensures you can get individual attention to make sure your form is correct and your questions are answered.

Looking to build lean muscle and increase metabolism? Looking to build a stronger range of motion? Looking to be more resilient and prevent injury throughout your life? Looking to reach new goals and build confidence? Bodymass is ready to help you get there.

Written by: Sam Pfister